Stories by Anna Mikulska

Expert Voices

French protests a canary in the coal mine for climate-change policies

Yellow vests (Gilets jaunes) protestors shout slogans as material burns during a protest against rising oil prices and living costs near the Arc of Triomphe on the Champs Elysees in Paris
Yellow Vest (Gilets Jaunes) protesting rising oil prices and living costs, near the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, Nov. 24. Photo: Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After three weeks of demonstrations against an increase in gasoline taxes, French President Emmanuel Macron yielded to the Yellow Vest protesters by suspending the hikes for six months.

The big picture: The wealthy countries pushing to address climate change have been seen as best equipped to bear the costs of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables, hence their commitment in the Paris Accord to channel energy transition funding to the developing world. But the French protests and Macron’s response suggest that even developed societies may meet resistance from their more disadvantaged members, who may not be so willing to make sacrifices to their way of life.

Expert Voices

As U.S. influence on global oil prices wanes, Russia stands to benefit

An OPEC meeting in St Petersburg, Russia in 2017
An OPEC meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, in July 2017. Photo: Peter Kovalev/TASS via Getty Images

Between early August and early October, crude oil prices shot up by approximately $20 per barrel in anticipation of the Trump administration's Nov. 5 re-imposition of oil export sanctions on Iran. But in the first week of October, amid speculation of a $100-per-barrel market, crude prices suddenly reversed course.

Between the lines: The reversal illuminates the influence of geopolitics on the crude market, including the shifting role of Saudi Arabia as a major balancing force. Saudi Arabia ultimately bowed to U.S. pressure, but its hesitation speaks to an erosion of the U.S.–OPEC relationship as Russia’s influence has grown.

Expert Voices

Europe's natural gas market continuing to grow and diversify

An employee of GASCADE Gastransport GmbH walks among sections of steel pipe stacked ahead of construction of the Eugal natural gas pipeline
An employee of GASCADE Gastransport GmbH walks among steel pipe stacks ahead of the Eugal natural gas pipeline construction, near Golssen, Germany, on August 29, 2018. Photo: Sean Gallup via Getty Images

Since 2015, Europe's natural gas market has shown strong demand growth driven by economic recovery, an increasingly gas-reliant power sector and unseasonable weather patterns that have increased the continent's heating and cooling needs.

The big picture Recent trends suggest the market is not only growing but also diversifying its suppliers, routes and delivery forms. There's considerable push for further liberalization to provide greater transparency and market-based pricing, features that attract competition and increase exporter interest. The growth thus provides a way to both decarbonize Europe's economy and fortify its energy security.

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