Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the continuing effects of the pandemic have hobbled countries around the globe, but the relentless series of crises has hit Europe the hardest, causing the steepest jump in energy prices, some of the highest inflation rates and the biggest risk of recession.
The fallout from the war is menacing the continent with what some fear could become its most challenging economic and financial crisis in decades.
While growth is slowing worldwide, “in Europe it’s altogether more serious because it’s driven by a more fundamental deterioration,” said Neil Shearing, group chief economist at Capital Economics. Real incomes and living standards are falling, he added. “Europe and Britain are just worse off.”
eightfold increase in natural gas prices since the war began presents a historic threat to Europe’s industrial might, living standards, and social peace and cohesion. Plans for factory closings, rolling blackouts and rationing are being drawn up in case of severe shortages this winter.
China, a powerful engine of global growth and a major market for European exports like cars, machinery and food, is facing its own set of problems. Beijing’s policy of continuing to freeze all activity during Covid-19 outbreaks has repeatedly paralyzed large swaths of the economy and added to worldwide supply chain disruptions. In the last few weeks alone, dozens of cities and more than 300 million people have been under full or partial lockdowns. Extreme heat and drought have hamstrung hydropower generation, forcing additional factory closings and rolling blackouts.
refusing to pay their mortgages because they have lost confidence that developers will ever deliver their unfinished housing units. Trade with the rest of the world took a hit in August, and overall economic growth, although likely to outrun rates in the United States and Europe, looks as if it will slip to its slowest pace in a decade this year. The prospect has prompted China’s central bank to cut interest rates in hopes of stimulating the economy.
“The global economy is undoubtedly slowing,” said Gregory Daco, chief economist at the global consulting firm EY- Parthenon,but it’s “happening at different speeds.”
In other parts of the world, countries that are able to supply vital materials and goods — particularly energy producers in the Middle East and North Africa — are seeing windfall gains.
And India and Indonesia are growing at unexpectedly fast paces as domestic demand increases and multinational companies look to vary their supply chains. Vietnam, too, is benefiting as manufacturers switch operations to its shores.
head-spinning energy bills this winter ratcheted up this week after Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy company, declared it would not resume the flow of natural gas through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline until Europe lifted Ukraine-related sanctions.
Daily average electricity prices in Western Europe have reached record levels, according to Rystad Energy, surging past 600 euros ($599) per megawatt-hour in Germany and €700 in France, with peak-hour rates as high as €1,500.
In the Czech Republic, roughly 70,000 angry protesters, many with links to far-right groups, gathered in Wenceslas Square in Prague this past weekend to demonstrate against soaring energy bills.
The German, French and Finnish governments have already stepped in to save domestic power companies from bankruptcy. Even so, Uniper, which is based in Germany and one of Europe’s largest natural gas buyers and suppliers, said last week that it was losing more than €100 million a day because of the rise in prices.
International Monetary Fund this week to issue a proposal to reform the European Union’s framework for government public spending and deficits.
caps blunt the incentive to reduce energy consumption — the chief goal in a world of shortages.
Central banks in the West are expected to keep raising interest rates to make borrowing more expensive and force down inflation. On Thursday, the European Central Bank raised interest rates by three-quarters of a point, matching its biggest increase ever. The U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to do the same when it meets this month. The Bank of England has taken a similar position.
The worry is that the vigorous push to bring down prices will plunge economies into recessions. Higher interest rates alone won’t bring down the price of oil and gas — except by crashing economies so much that demand is severely reduced. Many analysts are already predicting a recession in Germany, Italy and the rest of the eurozone before the end of the year. For poor and emerging countries, higher interest rates mean more debt and less money to spend on the most vulnerable.
“I think we’re living through the biggest development disaster in history, with more people being pushed more quickly into dire poverty than has every happened before,” said Mr. Goldin, the Oxford professor. “It’s a particularly perilous time for the world economy.”
At the Saku beer factory in Estonia, the mammoth copper brew kettles sit side by side like household sink plungers stored on a shelf in a manor house for giants. The brewery has been around for 200 years, but this is the first time in memory that the company has planned two price rises — of 10 percent each — in a single year.
And even that double-barreled increase won’t be enough to cover the brewery’s skyrocketing costs, said Jaan Harms, a board member at Saku.
“We are in an environment of increasing inflation, and, of course, energy is by far the main driver,” Mr. Harms said. When its energy contracts run out at the end of the summer, the company’s gas costs will rise 400 percent and the electricity bills will double, he said. And because the providers of every product and service they buy are also dealing with soaring fuel prices, those costs are rising as well.
estimates released Wednesday by the European Commission’s statistical office.
3 percent — a level that at the time set off alarms for reaching a decade-long high, but that would now be greeted with relief.
European Central Bank is scheduled to meet, is likely to reinforce the view that interest rates need to be raised again to curb inflation, despite the risk of recession.
Speaking at an economic summit near Jackson, Wyo., over the weekend, Isabel Schnabel, a member of the bank’s executive board, warned that inflation was more persistent than expected and said the bank needed to act “forcefully.”
“Inflation volatility has surged beyond the levels seen during the 1970s,” Ms. Schnabel said, a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine and climate change that is causing widespread drought, wildfires and other extreme weather.
nearly double in October, making it difficult for millions of people to heat their homes this winter.
inflation hit 8.5 percent in July, still high but a decline from the 9.1 percent registered in June as prices for gas, airfares, used cars and hotel rooms fell.
agreement with the European Union to temporarily cap electricity prices at €40 per megawatt-hour. Professors at the Instituto Superior de Engenharia in Lisbon and at Complutense University in Madrid calculated that prices were 15 to 18 percent lower than they would have been without the cap.
Elsewhere in Europe, prices for electricity in August set eye-popping records, according to Rystad Energy, a consultancy in Norway, with an average price of €547 per megawatt-hour.
glass bottles from its Russian supplier after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. Since then, wholesale bottle prices have shot up 20 to 80 percent.
solar panels atop its warehouses and brewery this summer, and it now boasts the country’s largest industrial rooftop solar park. In addition, the thermostats in offices will be lowered by 2 degrees this winter.
The energy crisis has also spurred the brewery to reconsider a proposal it had shelved as too expensive: the construction of a water treatment plant. The energy savings previously were not large enough to justify the cost. “But we are now thinking of doing this because the rules of the game have changed so much,” Mr. Harms said.
Saku’s initial price increase has gone through, but so far, there has not been a drop in sales. Summer vacation is prime season, Mr. Harms said, and when the weather is warm in this northern European country, people spend and drink.
But like the rest of Europe, Estonia is preparing for a dark winter.
It takes about 21 ingredients to make a Totino’s pizza roll, the bite-size snack that soared in popularity during the pandemic as people sought easy-to-make meals.
And on any given day since last winter, at least one of those ingredients, if not many, has either been difficult to find or insanely expensive.
The shortages became so bad at one point that General Mills, which makes Totino’s, simply couldn’t produce enough.
sugar and low-calorie sweeteners like erythritol, which is used in products like yogurt and cereal, were tough to pin down. Then palm oil, an odorless and tasteless oil that’s in about half the packaged goods in supermarkets, became hard to find. After Russia invaded Ukraine, global supplies of sunflower oil, produced by both countries, disappeared. And more recently, because of the avian flu that swept across the United States this spring, egg prices soared, leading to shortages.
guidance to allow manufacturers to make “minor formulation changes” because of supply disruptions or shortages without updating the ingredient list.
The leeway doesn’t apply to a change that increases the safety risk because it contains a food allergen or gluten, or that replaces a key ingredient or one featured in the name or marketing. For example, a product that claims to be made with “real butter” cannot now be made with margarine, and raisin bread must contain raisins.
Before the pandemic, Ingredion, a company that makes sweeteners, starches and other ingredients used by large food companies, often had its 500 scientists and 26 labs all over the country working on new products for companies. But in recent months, much more of their time has been spent figuring out what happens to the taste, texture and shelf life of a food when one or two ingredients are switched out.
“The overall reformulation of a product is a very complicated equation,” said Beth Tormey, a vice president and general manager of systems and ingredient solutions at Ingredion. “It has to meet parameters of texture and taste so that consumers like it, but it also has to fit into the regulatory box and the nutrition box. It all sounds simple from a distance, but it’s not.”
Take eggs. They are, explained Leaslie Carr, a senior director at Ingredion, a key source of protein for many products, but they are more than that. For baked goods, for instance, they provide moisture and volume, helping make cakes light and fluffy.
“Salad dressings also use a lot of egg for body and texture,” Ms. Carr said. “So we’re trying to figure out how to use different emulsifiers to reduce the amount of egg used, maybe reduce the egg amount by half, to produce the dressings. That gives you some flexibility to continue to manufacture the product until the egg situation stabilizes.”
General Mills started to notice the supply chain disruptions late last year.
The company’s plant in Wellston, Ohio, which had churned out Totino’s pizza and pizza rolls, working to meet the surge in sales that accompanied the pandemic, suddenly couldn’t get key ingredients.
“First it was the starch that we use for the cheeses,” Mr. Nudi said. “Then certain packaging and oils were hard to find. A lot of the materials that we use for Totino’s were challenged from an ingredient standpoint.”
By February, there weren’t enough Totino’s pizza and pizza rolls to keep grocery freezer sections full.
By then, the company had started daily meetings across its research and development, procurement and supply chain departments to figure out how to revamp and substitute ingredients. For instance when starch became difficult to find, the company began substituting and combining different starches in order to figure out what worked to make the pizza rolls look and taste the same.
In March, the company had filled freezer sections again, Mr. Nudi said.
But the lessons being learned from the “new normal” in the supply chain are being felt across the entire company.
Before the pandemic, the packaged food industry was a stable environment, with a consistent level of growth, Mr. Nudi said. That made having a secure, steady supply of ingredients easier.
Now General Mills is lining up multiple suppliers for each ingredient and keeping more ingredients on hand.
“Just-in-time deliveries don’t work anymore,” Mr. Nudi said. “We’re adding to inventory, holding more dry ingredients and fats and oils, even though that’s tough too right now. We need tanks to store those liquids, and those just aren’t readily available.”
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian officials have worried for years that other nations have been depriving them of one of their vital water sources. But it was not an upstream dam that they were worrying about, or an aquifer being bled dry.
In 2018, amid a searing drought and rising temperatures, some senior officials concluded that someone was stealing their water from the clouds.
“Both Israel and another country are working to make Iranian clouds not rain,” said Brig. Gen. Gholan Reza Jalali, a senior official in the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps in a 2018 speech.
are turning up at the water’s surface.
Preparing for Disaster: With the cost and frequency of weather-driven disasters on the rise, taking steps to be ready financially is more crucial than ever. Here are some tips.
Wildfires Out West: California and other Western states are particularly prone to increasingly catastrophic blazes. There are four key factors.
Colorado River: With water levels near their lowest point ever, Arizona and Nevada faced new restrictions on the amount of water they can pump out of the river.
While there had been enough water to sustain the tiny country’s population in 1960, when there were fewer than 100,000 people, by 2020 the population had ballooned to nearly 10 million. And the demand for water soared, as well. United Arab Emirates residents now use roughly 147 gallons per person a day, compared with the world average of 47 gallons, according to a 2021 research paper funded by the emirates.
Currently, that demand is being met by desalination plants. Each facility, however, costs $1 billion or more to build and requires prodigious amounts of energy to run, especially when compared with cloud seeding, said Abdulla Al Mandous, the director of the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology in the emirates and the leader of its cloud-seeding program.
After 20 years of research and experimentation, the center runs its cloud-seeding program with near military protocols. Nine pilots rotate on standby, ready to bolt into the sky as soon as meteorologists focusing on the country’s mountainous regions spot a promising weather formation — ideally, the types of clouds that can build to heights of as much as 40,000 feet.
They have to be ready on a moment’s notice because promising clouds are not as common in the Middle East as in many other parts of the world.
“We are on 24-hour availability — we live within 30 to 40 minutes of the airport — and from arrival here, it takes us 25 minutes to be airborne,” said Capt. Mark Newman, a South African senior cloud-seeding pilot. In the event of multiple, potentially rain-bearing clouds, the center will send more than one aircraft.
The United Arab Emirates uses two seeding substances: the traditional material made of silver iodide and a newly patented substance developed at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi that uses nanotechnology that researchers there say is better adapted to the hot, dry conditions in the Persian Gulf. The pilots inject the seeding materials into the base of the cloud, allowing it to be lofted tens of thousands of feet by powerful updrafts.
And then, in theory, the seeding material, made up of hygroscopic (water attracting) molecules, bonds to the water vapor particles that make up a cloud. That combined particle is a little bigger and in turn attracts more water vapor particles until they form droplets, which eventually become heavy enough to fall as rain — with no appreciable environmental impact from the seeding materials, scientists say.
That is in theory. But many in the scientific community doubt the efficacy of cloud seeding altogether. A major stumbling block for many atmospheric scientists is the difficulty, perhaps the impossibility, of documenting net increases in rainfall.
“The problem is that once you seed, you can’t tell if the cloud would have rained anyway,” said Alan Robock, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University and an expert in evaluating climate engineering strategies.
Another problem is that the tall cumulus clouds most common in summer in the emirates and nearby areas can be so turbulent that it is difficult to determine if the seeding has any effect, said Roy Rasmussen, a senior scientist and an expert in cloud physics at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.
Israel, a pioneer in cloud seeding, halted its program in 2021 after 50 years because it seemed to yield at best only marginal gains in precipitation. It was “not economically efficient,” said Pinhas Alpert, an emeritus professor at the University of Tel Aviv who did one of the most comprehensive studies of the program.
Cloud seeding got its start in 1947, with General Electric scientists working under a military contract to find a way to de-ice planes in cold weather and create fog to obscure troop movements. Some of the techniques were later used in Vietnam to prolong the monsoon season, in an effort to make it harder for the North Vietnamese to supply their troops.
While the underlying science of cloud seeding seems straightforward, in practice, there are numerous problems. Not all clouds have the potential to produce rain, and even a cloud seemingly suitable for seeding may not have enough moisture. Another challenge in hot climates is that raindrops may evaporate before they reach the ground.
Sometimes the effect of seeding can be larger than expected, producing too much rain or snow. Or the winds can shift, carrying the clouds away from the area where the seeding was done, raising the possibility of “unintended consequences,” notes a statement from the American Meteorological Society.
“You can modify a cloud, but you can’t tell it what to do after you modify it,” said James Fleming, an atmospheric scientist and historian of science at Colby College in Maine.
“It might snow; it might dissipate. It might go downstream; it might cause a storm in Boston,” he said, referring to an early cloud-seeding experiment over Mount Greylock in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.
This seems to be what happened in the emirates in the summer of 2019, when cloud seeding apparently generated such heavy rains in Dubai that water had to be pumped out of flooded residential neighborhoods and the upscale Dubai mall.
Despite the difficulties of gathering data on the efficacy of cloud seeding, Mr. Al Mandous said the emirates’ methods were yielding at least a 5 percent increase in rain annually — and almost certainly far more. But he acknowledged the need for data covering many more years to satisfy the scientific community.
Over last New Year’s weekend, said Mr. Al Mandous, cloud seeding coincided with a storm that produced 5.6 inches of rain in three days — more precipitation than the United Arab Emirates often gets in a year.
In the tradition of many scientists who have tried to modify the weather, he is ever optimistic. There is the new cloud-seeding nanosubstance, and if the emirates just had more clouds to seed, he said, maybe they could make more rain for the country.
And where would those extra clouds come from?
“Making clouds is very difficult,” he acknowledged. “But, who knows, maybe God will send us somebody who will have the idea of how to make clouds.”
As a lifelong resident of Lafourche Parish in southern Louisiana, Jeanne Gouaux knew the storms that cut through the region demanded preparation. She had wind and hail insurance, a solid savings account. But it wasn’t until Hurricane Ida’s 150-mile-per-hour winds peeled back part of her roof last August that she experienced the fury — and its aftermath — up close.
“In a matter of one day, one storm came through and knocked out everything I worked so hard for all these years,” said Ms. Gouaux, a single mother of four and director of pharmacy for a surgery center near her home in Lockport, La.
With the cost and frequency of weather-driven disasters on the rise, girding your financial house for such a catastrophe — to the extent that you’re able — is increasingly crucial in parts of the country.
damage to residences, businesses and municipalities, according to an analysis by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
too weak (or simply unenforced) to withstand damage.
But climate shifts are “supercharging the increasing frequency and intensity of certain types of extreme weather that lead to billion-dollar disasters,” said Adam Smith, the climate scientist who led the NOAA analysis, “most notably the vulnerability to drought, lengthening wildfire seasons in the Western states and the potential for extremely heavy rainfall becoming more common in the Eastern states.”
“It hints that the extremely high activity of recent years is becoming the new normal,” he added.
Ms. Gouaux, 45, had a bad feeling about Ida. In a prescient move, she packed up her family and, for the first time, left her home before the storm hit.
state program — while the home was gutted and repaired. Only in June, after 10 months, was the family able to partly move back in. With the house incomplete, meals are still cooked in the camper.
went bankrupt, causing the state guarantor to take over claims, gumming up an already slow process. It took nine months to collect her first insurance check.
Not all households have the wherewithal to prepare themselves for the worst. But there is some safeguarding that everyone can attempt. Here’s where to start:
tools can provide a starting point for assessing your home’s risk to earthly hazards.
Risk Factor has created a user-friendly tool that outlines flood, fire and extreme-heat risks (and soon other perils, including wind) for most homes across the country. Plug in an address, and it drills down to the property level, illustrating potential hazards. For example, it can show the probability that a property might flood, where the water is likely to pool, the damage it might cause and how much repairs might cost.
hazard maps for earthquakes, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Flood Insurance Program maintain flood maps (which also determine whether a home with a federally backed mortgage is required to have flood insurance). The flood program has recently overhauled its rating methodology, called Risk Rating 2.0, but you’ll have to contact a flood insurance agent who can share more about your property’s unique risk, said Jeremy Edwards, a FEMA spokesman.
You may be able to find more local hazard information, too. Californians, for example, can enter their address into the MyHazards website. And if you’re new to a community, talk to neighbors.
you can do to minimize damage if a flood or fire strike. The costs of mitigation will vary, but it may reduce your insurance premiums. Some insurers, for example, provide meaningful discounts in hurricane-prone regions after homeowners install roof braces or straps, said Alyssa Bourgeois, an insurance producer with MarshMcLennan in Metairie, La.
The Risk Factor website provides suggestions for hazards facing specific properties, and many regions have programs offering residents financial help to harden their homes against specific hazards, though funding is often limited.
Evaluate insurance needs. The insurance market varies greatly by locality and the hazards inherent to the area. Standard homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies do not cover all hazards. Floods and earthquakes always require separate coverage. Wind and hail (hurricane) coverage may carry its own deductible as part of your homeowners’ insurance, or it may be a separate policy, at least in certain areas. Wildfires, meanwhile, are often incorporated into many policies, experts said.
Flood insurance (see Ann Carrns’s guide here) is generally available through the National Flood Insurance Program, which FEMA manages. Most Californians buy earthquake coverage through the California Earthquake Authority, a nonprofit entity created through state law to provide policies through its member insurers.
enough coverage to replace your property — that is, to rebuild it, not what you’d pay to buy it again, said Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a consumer advocacy group.
But many households in the highest-risk areas, including hurricane-prone states like Louisiana and Florida, are having trouble finding affordable coverage as insurers exit the market in droves.
Jude Boudreaux, a financial planner in New Orleans, said he receives calls weekly from clients questioning whether they should continue living there given the increased insurance costs. “A lot of carriers are leaving Louisiana, so people with policies are getting nonrenewal notices, and there are fewer choices out there,” he said.
Until rates stabilize, many people are resorting to the usual strategies to keep costs manageable, like increasing deductibles and reducing some coverage, including on “other structures” such as garages and personal property.
cars and other vehicles. Comprehensive auto coverage, required by auto lenders, generally provides protection against natural disasters. But older, low-value cars may not have comprehensive (and it may not be worth the cost anyway). “In those cases, we’d recommend setting aside the amount of the premium you’d pay each year into a savings account instead of giving it to the insurer,” Mr. Heller said.
home inventory spreadsheet, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a related app, and there are other inventory apps as well.
The least time-consuming method might be to walk through each room of your home with your mobile phone’s video camera, narrating the contents along the way. Don’t forget to open up closets, cabinets and drawers, as well as storage spaces and the garage. Then email the file to yourself, or store it securely online (and perhaps on an external hard drive).
There’s real money at stake: Ms. Gouaux was able to recover only roughly $14,000 of the $53,000 in contents coverage on her wind and hail policy.
“The night we left, someone posted: Make sure you take photos of all the rooms,” she said. “We didn’t do a good job. By the time we got back, everything was all over the place, and it was very hot.”
fireproof and waterproof box. Consider storing electronic copies on an external hard drive (using password protection) or in the cloud.
FEMA’s financial emergency kit has an exhaustive check list of what to gather and protect, along with a 41-page emergency financial first-aid kit that can be filled out online and stored in a secure place. The American Red Cross has a version of its own.
If you have to leave your home, experts suggest taking key documents with you in case you need to file a claim with your insurer or apply for FEMA assistance.
Keep emergency funds. Having access to money for any basic needs is also something to consider. If there’s no electricity and A.T.M.s aren’t working, you’ll probably need cash. Stash some in a safe place.
And if you receive any federal benefits through paper checks, now is the time to switch to automatic electronic deposits. Ditto for any other payments you may receive by mail.
take. Mr. Boudreaux, who has lived with the threat of hurricanes for most of his life, said to walk through your home and think about what’s irreplaceable — it probably fits into a plastic box.
“Define what those things are, or create a list so if someone knocked on your door and said, ‘The fire is coming in 30 minutes’ — what would you take?” he said. “It’s also good life perspective exercise.”
WOUDENBERG, Netherlands — The dairy farmers of the Netherlands have had enough.
They have set fire to hay and manure along highways, dumped trash on roads to create traffic jams, and blockaded food distribution centers with their tractors, leading to empty shelves in supermarkets. Across the country, upside down flags wave from farmhouses in protest.
The anger of the farmers is directed at the government, which has announced plans for a national 50 percent reduction of nitrogen emissions by 2030, in line with European Union requirements to preserve protected nature reserves, that they believe unfairly targets them. Factories and cars also emit large amounts of nitrogen and have not been targeted, they say, although the government said that cuts associated with both polluters would be addressed in the future.
Agriculture is responsible for the largest share of nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands, much of it from the waste produced by the estimated 1.6 million cows that provide the milk used to make the country’s famed cheeses, like Gouda and Edam.
wrote in a letter to the Dutch minister of agriculture this month that “the transition to a sustainable agricultural and food system is urgent and necessary.” The letter also said that consumers in the Netherlands needed to do their part to make sure emissions targets were reached.
Europe’s Shift Away From Fossil Fuels
The European Union has begun a transition to greener forms of energy. But financial and geopolitical considerations could complicate the efforts.
“Consumers also have to take responsibility,” it said. “Dutch people will have to consume more vegetables and fewer (-70%) animal proteins.”
All of this comes as wrenching change in the Netherlands, where dairy farms have long been as much of the national identity as the country’s windmills and canals. It is also a major producer and exporter of milk and milk products. Last year it sent €8.2 billion worth of dairy products abroad and produced a total of 13.8 billion kilos of milk, according to ZuivelNL, a Dairy organization.
to a survey by a Dutch research firm.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who this month became the country’s longest-serving prime minister and has grappled with what is known in the Netherlands as “the nitrogen crisis,” has condemned the protests, calling them “unacceptable.”
said recently on Twitter.
former President Donald J. Trump said at a rally last month.
For now, a government-appointed mediator is engaged in negotiations between the farmers and the government. The mediator has said there is a “crisis of confidence” between the two sides.
“We’re not going without a fight,” said Mr. Apeldoorn, the dairy farmer. “That’s how most farmers feel right now.”
ASERAL, Norway — In a Nordic land famous for its steep fjords, where water is very nearly a way of life, Sverre Eikeland scaled down the boulders that form the walls of one of Norway’s chief reservoirs, past the driftwood that protruded like something caught in the dam’s teeth, and stood on dry land that should have been deeply submerged.
“You see the band where the vegetation stops,” said Mr. Eikeland, 43, the chief operating officer of Agder Energi, pointing at a stark, arid line 50 feet above the Skjerkevatn reservoir’s surface. “That’s where the water level should be.”
thousands of northern homes without electricity.
reignited talk of investing in nuclear power and has dried up the waterways crucial for transporting coal.
most severe drought on record in France has also cost the country’s energy production, as nuclear plants responsible for more than 70 percent of the country’s electricity had to cut down activity temporarily to avoid discharging dangerously warm water into rivers.
Many of France’s 56 nuclear plants were already offline for maintenance issues. But the rivers that cool reactors have become so warm as a result of the punishing heat that strict rules designed to protect wildlife have prevented the flushing of the even warmer water from the plants back into the waterways.
power grid operators to hire more workers amid fears of electricity shortages.
In Norway, a winter without much snow and an exceptionally dry spring, including the driest April in 122 years, reduced water levels in lakes and rivers. Shallow waters in Mjosa, the country’s largest lake, kept its famed Skibladner paddle wheel boat tied up at port and prompted city officials in Oslo to send out text messages urging people to take shorter showers and avoid watering lawns.
“Do that for Oslo,” read the text message, “so that we’ll still have water for the most important things in our lives.” In May, Statnett SF, the operator of the national electricity grid, raised the alarm about shortfalls.
But the skies offered no relief and this month, as the country’s hydro reservoirs — especially in the south — approached what Energy Minister Terje Aasland has called “very low” levels, hydropower producers cut output to save water for the coming winter.
The reservoirs were about 60 percent full, about 10 percent less than the average over the previous two decades, according to data from the energy regulator.
Southern Norway, which holds more than a third of the country’s reservoirs, is dotted with red barns on green fields and fishing boats along the coast. On a stream in the Agder region, a sign put up by the energy company, like a relic from another time, warned, “The water level can rise suddenly and without warning.”
But recent months have shown that there is danger in the water level dropping, too. Reservoirs had dwindled to their lowest point in 20 years, at just 46 percent full. One, Rygene, was so low as to force the temporary closing of the plant. On Tuesday, the rainstorms returned, but the ground was so dry, Mr. Eikeland said as he surveyed the basin, that the earth “drinks up all the water” and the water levels in the reservoirs barely rose.
He sped his electric car farther south toward Kristiansand, where a large grid sends electricity around the country’s south and to Denmark. In a fenced-off area above the hill, a Norwegian industrial developer was building a data center for clients such as Amazon, which would suck up a significant share of locally produced electricity in order to cool vast computer servers.
This year’s drought has only highlighted the urgent need for a wider energy transformation, Mr. Eikeland said.
“The drought shows that we are not ready for the big changes,” he said, but also “that we will not accept the high prices.”
Reporting was contributed by Christopher F. Schuetze from Germany, Constant Méheut from France, Gaia Pianigiani from Italy, Isabella Kwai from London and Henrik Pryser Libell from Norway.
Calm returns to the streets of Kibera slum and Kisumu city
Election result disowned by majority of election officials
NAIROBI/KISUMU, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Kenyan politician Raila Odinga rejected as a “travesty” the result of the Aug. 9 presidential election he was declared to have lost to Deputy President William Ruto and warned on Tuesday of a long legal crisis facing Kenya’s democracy.
His first comments on the result came after four of the seven election commissioners said they stood by their decision a day earlier to disown figures announced by electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati.
The dramatic series of events has raised fears of violence similar to what followed disputed polls in East Africa’s richest country in 2007 when more than 1,200 people were killed and again in 2017 when more than 100 people died.
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Overnight, Odinga’s supporters battled police and burned tyres in the western city of Kisumu and the capital Nairobi’s huge Kibera slum, but calm had returned to the streets by Tuesday morning.
“Our view is that the figures announced by Chebukati are null and void and must be quashed by a court of law,” said Odinga, a veteran opposition leader and five-time presidential candidate who was backed this time by outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“What we saw yesterday was a travesty,” he told reporters, but appealed to his supporters to remain peaceful. “Let no one take the law into their own hands,” he said.
Odinga broadcast the dissenting commission members’ news conference at his own venue before taking the stage. He said he was not yet prepared to announce specific legal steps.
Odinga has until next Monday to file a challenge with the supreme court.
Speaking for the four commissioners, electoral commission deputy chair Juliana Cherera said the results showing Ruto winning with 50.49% were erroneously aggregated and that Chebukati had disregarded concerns about the tally raised by other commissioners.
Cherera later said that one of her main claims was based on a mathematical error. She had originally highlighted that the vote percentages for the race’s four candidates added up to 100.01%, saying the additional 0.01% represented 142,000 votes, enough to potentially sway the election.
Ruto defeated Odinga by about 233,000 votes.
Responding to a Reuters query, Cherera later acknowledged that 0.01% of the 14.2 million votes cast was actually 1,420, but said the tally still showed a lack of quality control of the data.
Reuters was unable to reach the election commission’s spokesperson for comment.
Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) One Kenya Alliance, who competed in Kenya’s presidential election, addresses the nation following the announcement of the results of the presidential election, in Nairobi, Kenya August 16, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
With memories still fresh of post-election bloodshed, Odinga has faced calls from home and abroad to commit to resolving any concerns in the courts.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with Ruto on Tuesday and hopes to speak with Odinga on Wednesday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding Guterres hoped the electoral process would be completed in accordance with the law.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price urged parties to work together to “peacefully resolve any remaining concerns about the election” through existing dispute resolution mechanisms and called on political party leaders to urge supporters to remain peaceful.
“We hope to see that calm and patience prevail,” Price told reporters, adding that Washington will continue to be in close touch with Kenyan partners.
At a crowded restaurant in Odinga’s stronghold of Kisumu there was sporadic applause as supporters watched his statement rejecting the results and calling for peace. Outside the streets were quiet.
“There is no need for protest because we have evidence that Ruto rigged this thing,” said Justin Omondi, a businessman and Odinga supporter.
Even so, the protests overnight showed how quickly tensions could escalate. Many shops in Kisumu were shuttered on Tuesday, and roads were dotted with stones and marks from burned tyres.
Nancy Achieng arrived on Tuesday morning to find her roadside food stall in the Kondele neighbourhood destroyed.
“I’ve lost the election and I’ve also lost my business,” said Achieng, who had been selling beans, chapati and roasted maize there for two years.
Kenya’s Eurobonds slipped after the statements by Odinga and the commissioners but were still up on the day having recovered some of the sharp losses seen on Monday.
Its 2024 dollar-denominated bond was up 1.86 cents on the dollar at 88.5 cents at 1400 GMT compared to over 92 cents late last week.
Ruto would face an economic and social crisis as well as rising debt. Poor Kenyans already reeling from the impact of COVID-19 have been hit by soaring food and fuel costs while a devastating drought in the north has left 4.1 million people dependent on food aid.
The 55-year-old Ruto made Kenya’s class divisions the centrepiece of his campaign to become Kenya’s fifth president, promising to reward low-income “hustlers”, but in his victory speech on Monday vowed to be a president for all Kenyans. read more
Outgoing president Kenyatta, who could not run after serving two five-year terms, fell out with his deputy Ruto and backed Odinga.
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Reporting by Duncan Miriri, George Obulutsa and David Lewis in Nairobi, Ayenat Mersie and Kevine Omollo in Kisumu; Additional reporting by Rachel Savage in London, Michelle Nichols in New York and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; Writing by James Macharia Chege and Aaron Ross; Editing by Catherine Evans, Tomasz Janowski and Cynthia Osterman
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MYKOLAIV, Ukraine — A ship loaded with corn on Monday became the first cargo vessel to sail from Ukraine in more than five months of war, passing through Russia’s naval blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and raising hopes that desperately needed food will soon reach nations afflicted by shortages and soaring prices.
The ship’s journey was the culmination of months of negotiations and an international campaign to get grain out of Ukraine, one of the world’s breadbaskets before the war. Russia’s invasion and blockade, along with Western sanctions impeding Russian exports and factors like drought and climate change, have sharply cut global grain supplies, threatening to bring famine to tens of millions of people, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.
Mediators from the United Nations and Turkey, which shares the Black Sea coast with Russia and Ukraine, oversaw months of talks in Istanbul. Though discussions seemed hopelessly mired for weeks, in late July the parties struck a deal to free more than 20 million tons of grain.
the causes of a looming global hunger crisis.
“Ensuring that grain, fertilizers, and other food-related items are available at reasonable prices to developing countries is a humanitarian imperative,” António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, said Monday. “People on the verge of famine need these agreements to work, in order to survive.”
major supplier of fertilizer, and with Ukraine it supplies more than a quarter of the world’s wheat.
But as the Razoni’s Black Sea crossing raised hopes for some degree of cooperation between the combatants, the fighting intensified on multiple fronts in Ukraine.
a counteroffensive in the southern Kherson region, Ukraine has used long-range precision weapons, recently supplied by the West, to disrupt Russian supply lines and logistics. Ukrainian forces have attacked Russian command and control centers, hit supply routes, tried to isolate Russian forces into pockets and enlisted Ukrainian saboteurs behind enemy lines.
adept at attacking Russian command and control hubs and destroying large amounts of Russian equipment. On Monday, the Biden administration announced another round of support for Ukraine: $550 million in military aid, including more ammunition for 155-millimeter howitzer artillery pieces and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, that the United States has already provided.
But for all its sluggish or faltering progress in the war, Russia retains vast advantages in the size of its arsenal, and its military has shown a willingness and ability to strike all over the country, even as it focuses on gaining ground in eastern Ukraine. There, Russia has blanketed town after town with overwhelming artillery fire as it tries to reposition ground forces to press forward.
The strategy slowly gave Russia control of the eastern Luhansk Province, leaving many cities and villages in ruins. Russian forces have since moved to reinforce the south and to push into another eastern province, Donetsk.
“Their tactic remains much the same as it was during the hostilities in Luhansk region,” Serhiy Haidai, head of Ukraine’s Luhansk regional government, said on Monday.
He said the Russians were making daily attempts to mount an offensive on the city of Bakhmut, in Donetsk, but so far had failed to break through the main Ukrainian defensive lines.
Russian forces have also continued to shell residential and military areas in and around the city of Kharkiv in the northeast, putting pressure on Ukraine not to shift too many of its defenses from there.
In Chuhuiv, in the Kharkiv region and just 10 miles from Russian lines, residents were still recovering on Monday from missile strikes last week on the House of Culture, a building used since Soviet times for cultural events. In wartime, the building’s kitchens were used to prepare food for the needy, but members of the city government had also used it as a temporary office, possibly a reason for the attack.
The missiles killed three people sheltering in the basement and wounded several more, according to Oleh Synyehubov, the Kharkiv regional administrator. A volunteer cook was among the dead, residents said. His brother and several other people survived.
Two women were also killed, one of whom had been helping the cook, said a resident who gave only his first name, Maksim, wary of possible retribution. They were making an Uzbek rice dish, plov, for people in the neighborhood.
“She was just cleaning vegetables,” Maksim said.
Chuhuiv has come under increasing bombardment in recent days, as have the city of Kharkiv and other villages and towns in the province. Soldiers guarding the approaches to the city on Sunday said that artillery strikes had been steady much of the day, hitting an industrial area around the train station.
The Russians “are hitting lots of places like this, all the schools as well,” said Maksim. “They are doing it to make the people leave.”
People were getting the message, and the town was largely empty, he said. He was preparing to leave too, he said. He and his family had plans to emigrate to Canada.
“There is nothing left here,” he said.
Michael Schwirtz reported from Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Matina Stevis-Gridneff from Brussels and Matthew Mpoke Bigg from London. Reporting was contributed by Carlotta Gall and Kamila Hrabchuk from Chuhuiv, Ukraine, Marc Santora from London and Alan Yuhas from New York.
LONDON — The weather maps for Europe were blood red on Sunday as heat that has been baking Spain and Italy and fanning fires in southwest France worked its way north toward Britain.
In London, it was warm, in the high 80s, but temperatures on Monday and Tuesday were forecast to hit 100 or higher and to shatter records in a place where air-conditioning is rare and buildings are constructed to retain heat.
In France, the extreme temperatures that have fed wildfires in the south are expected to sweep into the north, especially along the Atlantic coast, which was bracing for uncharacteristically scorching weather.
Germany and other countries in July, killing hundreds. In August, multiple wildfires consumed large areas of Greece. And, also in August, one town in Sicily may have recorded the hottest temperature ever in Europe: 124 degrees Fahrenheit.
But on Sunday, the attention in France was focused on the wildfires, in the southwestern Gironde region near Bordeaux, where over 1,200 firefighters were still struggling to contain two separate blazes.
stay out of the sun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., to make only essential journeys on those days, to avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day and to carry water with them.
Reporting was contributed by Aurelien Breeden from Paris, Francheska Melendez from Foz do Farelo, Portugal, Gaia Pianigiani from Rome and Euan Ward from London.