“NO ES SUFICIENTE” — It’s not enough. That was the message protest leaders in Ecuador delivered to the country’s president this past week after he said he would lower the price of both regular gas and diesel by 10 cents in response to riotous demonstrations over soaring fuel and food prices.
The fury and fear over energy prices that have exploded in Ecuador are playing out the world over. In the United States, average gasoline prices, which have jumped to $5 per gallon, are burdening consumers and forcing an excruciating political calculus on President Biden ahead of the midterm congressional elections this fall.
But in many places, the leap in fuel costs has been much more dramatic, and the ensuing misery much more acute.
Britain, it costs $125 to fill the tank of an average family-size car. Hungary is prohibiting motorists from buying more than 50 liters of gas a day at most service stations. Last Tuesday, police in Ghana fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators protesting against the economic hardship caused by gas price increases, inflation and a new tax on electronic payments.
largest exporter of oil and gas to global markets, and the retaliatory sanctions that followed have caused gas and oil prices to gallop with an astounding ferocity. The unfolding calamity comes on top of two years of upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, off-and-on shutdowns and supply chain snarls.
World Bank revised its economic forecast last month, estimating that global growth will slow even more than expected, to 2.9 percent this year, roughly half of what it was in 2021. The bank’s president, David Malpass, warned that “for many countries, recession will be hard to avoid.”
ratcheting down gas deliveries to several European countries.
Across the continent, countries are preparing blueprints for emergency rationing that involve caps on sales, reduced speed limits and lowered thermostats.
As is usually the case with crises, the poorest and most vulnerable will feel the harshest effects. The International Energy Agency warned last month that higher energy prices have meant an additional 90 million people in Asia and Africa do not have access to electricity.
Expensive energy radiates pain, contributing to high food prices, lowering standards of living and exposing millions to hunger. Steeper transportation costs increase the price of every item that is trucked, shipped or flown — whether it’s a shoe, cellphone, soccer ball or prescription drug.
Understand Inflation and How It Impacts You
“The simultaneous rise in energy and food prices is a double punch in the gut for the poor in practically every country,” said Eswar Prasad, an economist at Cornell University, “and could have devastating consequences in some corners of the world if it persists for an extended period.”
Group of 7 this past week discussed a price cap on exported Russian oil, a move that is intended to ease the burden of painful inflation on consumers and reduce the export revenue that President Vladimir V. Putin is using to wage war.
Price increases are everywhere. In Laos, gas is now more than $7 per gallon, according to GlobalPetrolPrices.com; in New Zealand, it’s more than $8; in Denmark, it’s more than $9; and in Hong Kong, it’s more than $10 for every gallon.
Leaders of three French energy companies have called for an “immediate, collective and massive” effort to reduce the country’s energy consumption, saying that the combination of shortages and spiking prices could threaten “social cohesion” next winter.
increased coal production to avoid power outages during a blistering heat wave in the northern and central parts of the country and a subsequent rise in demand for air conditioning.
Germany, coal plants that were slated for retirement are being refired to divert gas into storage supplies for the winter.
There is little relief in sight. “We will still see high and volatile energy prices in the years to come,” said Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency.
At this point, the only scenario in which fuel prices go down, Mr. Birol said, is a worldwide recession.
Reporting was contributed by José María León Cabrera from Ecuador, Lynsey Chutel from South Africa, Ben Ezeamalu from Nigeria, Jason Gutierrez from the Philippines, Oscar Lopez from Mexico and Ruth Maclean from Senegal.
Assaults at stores have been increasing at a faster pace than the national average. Some workers are tired of fearing for their safety.
There was the customer who stomped on the face of a private security guard. Then the one who lit herself on fire inside a store. The person who drank gasoline and the one who brandished an ax. An intoxicated shopper who pelted a worker with soup cans. A shoplifter who punched a night manager twice in the head and then shot him in the chest.
And there was the shooting that killed 10 people, including three workers, at the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colo., in March 2021. Another shooting left 10 more people dead at a Buffalo grocery store last month.
In her 37 years in the grocery industry, said Kim Cordova, a union president in Colorado, she had never experienced the level of violence that her members face today.
F.B.I. said, more than half the so-called active shooter attacks — in which an individual with a gun is killing or trying to kill people in a busy area — occurred in places of commerce, including stores.
“Violence in and around retail settings is definitely increasing, and it is a concern,” said Jason Straczewski, a vice president of government relations and political affairs at the National Retail Federation.
Tracking retail theft is more difficult because many prosecutors and retailers rarely press charges. Still, some politicians have seized on viral videos of brazen shoplifting to portray left-leaning city leaders as soft on crime. Others have accused the industry of grossly exaggerating losses and warned that the thefts were being used as a pretext to roll back criminal justice reforms.
“These crimes deserve to be taken seriously, but they are also being weaponized ahead of the midterm elections,” said Jonathan Simon, a professor of criminal justice at the University of California, Berkeley, Law School.
While the political debate swirls about the extent of the crime and its causes, many of the people staffing the stores say retailers have been too permissive of crime, particularly theft. Some employees want more armed security guards who can take an active role in stopping theft, and they want more stores to permanently bar rowdy or violent customers, just as airlines have been taking a hard line with unruly passengers.
Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer, did not respond to requests for comment.
Some unions are demanding that retailers make official accommodations for employees who experience anxiety working with the public by finding them store roles where they don’t regularly interact with customers.
it was revealed that the retailers were hounding falsely accused customers.
The industry says it is putting much of its focus on stopping organized rings of thieves who resell stolen items online or on the street. They point to big cases like the recent indictment of dozens of people who are accused of stealing millions of dollars in merchandise from stores like Sephora, Bloomingdale’s and CVS.
But it’s not clear how much of the crime is organized. Matthew Fernandez, 49, who works at a King Soopers in Broomfield, Colo., said he was stunned when he watched a thief walk out with a cart full of makeup, laundry detergent and meat and drive off in a Mercedes-Benz S.U.V.
“The ones you think are going to steal are not the ones doing it,” he said. “From high class to low class, they are all doing it.”
Ms. Barry often gives money to the homeless people who come into her store, so they can buy food. She also knows the financial pressures on people with lower incomes as the cost of living soars.
When people steal, she said, the company can write off the loss. But those losses mean less money for workers.
“That is part of my raise and benefits that is walking out the door,” she said. “That is money we deserve.”
Russia missed a deadline for making bond payments on Sunday, a move signaling its first default on international debt in more than a century, after Western sanctions thwarted the government’s efforts to pay foreign investors. The lapse adds to efforts to seal Moscow off from global capital markets for years.
About $100 million in dollar- and euro-denominated interest payments failed to reach investors within a 30-day grace period after a missed May 27 deadline. The grace period expired Sunday night.
A formal declaration of default would need to come from bondholders because ratings agencies, which normally declare when borrowers have defaulted, have been barred by sanctions from reporting on Russia. The Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee, a panel of investors that rules on whether to pay out securities linked to defaults, hasn’t been asked to make a decision on these bond payments yet.
But it appeared that the payments had not reached bondholders’ accounts as of Sunday night, as required by the bonds’ contracts. On Monday, Russia’s finance ministry said that it had made the payments in May and that they had been transferred to Euroclear, a Brussels-based clearinghouse, but subsequently blocked from reaching bondholders.
Russia is rejecting the default declaration, on the grounds that it has made efforts to pay. Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, told reporters on Monday that the statements about default were “absolutely illegal.”
“The fact that Euroclear withheld this money, did not transfer it to the recipients, it is not our problem,” Mr. Peskov said. “In other words, there are no grounds to call this situation a default.”
The finance ministry added that the actions of foreign financial institutions were beyond its control and that “it seems advisable for investors to contact the relevant financial institutions directly” over the payments.
Euroclear declined to comment.
“We can expect Russia to stick to its alternative narrative: The default isn’t a default, we tried and it isn’t our fault,” said Tim Samples, a legal studies professor at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business and an expert on sovereign debt, adding that Russia also hasn’t submitted to jurisdiction in foreign courts. Still, “that has to be a bit humiliating, even for a country that can survive and maintain a war on its hydrocarbon revenues,” he said.
The risk of default emerged in late February after Russia invaded Ukraine and sanctions were imposed to sever the country from international financial markets. In late May, Russia tried to navigate tightening sanctions that cut off its access to American banks and bondholders by sending the payments to a Moscow-based institution. But ultimately, the funds didn’t make it all the way to bondholders’ accounts because of far-reaching American and European sanctions.
News of Monday’s apparent default showed “just how strong” international sanctions against Russia have been, a senior U.S. administration official said in a background briefing for reporters at the Group of 7 summit in Germany, highlighting the “dramatic” effect on Russia’s economy.
This default is unusual because it’s a result of economic sanctions blocking transactions, not because the Russian government has run out of money. Moscow’s finances remain resilient after months of war, with nearly $600 billion in foreign currency and gold reserves, though about half of that is frozen overseas. And Russia continues to receive a steady influx of cash from sales of oil and gas. Still, a default would be a stain on the country’s reputation that will linger in investors’ memories and probably push up its borrowing costs if it is able to tap international capital markets.
Unlike other major defaults in recent history, such as in Greece and Argentina, this default is expected to have a relatively small impact on international markets and Russia’s budget. For one thing, Russia has already lost access to international investors, traditionally the worst consequence of default.
“The only clear negative outcome of the default is that the external market will be effectively closed for the ministry of finance,” said Sofya Donets, an economist at Renaissance Capital in Moscow. “But it’s already closed.”
The head of Russia’s central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, said this month that there wouldn’t be any immediate consequences of a default because there had already been an outflow of investors and a drop in the value of Russia’s assets. The central bank is more concerned about inflation, most recently at about 17 percent, and supporting the economy through a “large-scale structural transformation” after an exodus of foreign companies and imports.
The Western sanctions alone are expected to block Russia from large parts of international capital markets for a long time. Regardless, Russia has been reluctant to give up its reputation as a reliable borrower, which was hard won after its economic collapse in 1998, when the government defaulted on ruble-denominated bonds amid a currency crisis.
Last month, Russia insisted that it had fulfilled its debt obligations by sending funds to its payment agent in Moscow, the National Settlement Depository. Since then, the depository has fallen under European sanctions, further restricting Russia’s ability to pay bondholders. The finance minister, Anton Siluanov, has accused the West of artificially manufacturing a default and has threatened legal action against U.S. authorities.
This is Russia’s first major default on foreign debt since 1918, soon after the Bolshevik Revolution.
On Wednesday, President Vladimir V. Putin signed a decree saying that future payments to holders ofdebt denominated in dollars or euros would be made through Russian financial institutions and that the obligations would be considered met if paid in rubles and converted. Most of the bond contracts don’t allow for payment in rubles.
Over the following two days, nearly $400 million in dollar-denominated debt payments were due from bonds that had 30-day and 15-day grace periods. The finance ministry said it had sent the payments, in rubles, using the new procedure laid out by the presidential decree. But it remains unclear how foreign investors will gain access to the funds.
Overseas investors held about half of Russia’s $40 billion in outstanding foreign-currency debt at the end of last year. As the risk of default grew this year, PIMCO, the investment management firm, saw the value of its Russian bond holdings decline by more than $1 billion, and pension funds and mutual funds with exposure to emerging market debt have also experienced declines.
But exposure to Russian assets is limited in the United States and Europe because sanctions imposed since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 have discouraged investors who didn’t want the geopolitical risk.
By international standards, Russia doesn’t have that much debt. Its public debt was only about 17 percent of gross domestic product last year, according to the International Monetary Fund, one of just a handful of countries with debt ratios under 25 percent. The United States, whose assets are in demand among global investors and deemed low risk, has a debt ratio of 125 percent of G.D.P.
Russia’s low debt levels are partly a result of “this new geopolitical era” since the annexation of Crimea, Ms. Donets said. “But it’s also a product of the default of 1998,” she added, when “the ministry of finance was burned badly.”Since then, the ministry has not been that active in issuing new foreign-currency debt, she said.
Russia hasn’t relied on borrowing from international investors for its budget. The finance ministry hasn’t issued dollar-denominated debt since 2019, when U.S. sanctions barred American banks from buying the debt directly. It last issued euro-denominated debt in May 2021.
Instead, Russia has depended on its oil and gas exports, and those dollar revenues that went into reserves and grew the national wealth fund.
“Why would you borrow and pay additional rates when you are a country that is accumulating oil funds, accumulating in hard currency, a country which has $600 billion in reserves?” Ms. Donets said.
The war hasn’t changed that calculation. Russia’s current account surplus, a broad measure of trade and investment, has soared as revenues from energy exports jumped, capital controls stopped investments fleeing and sanctions slashed imports. It has helped push the ruble to its highest level in seven years.
If Russia does issue more debt, it will lean on local banks and residents in the short term to buy ruble-denominated bonds.
Russia “will have no access to the capital markets until the war stops and the sanctions are lifted,” said Richard Portes, an economics professor at the London School of Business.
The long-term consequences of a default are unclear because of the unusual nature of the financial breach. But it’s possible to envision a future where Russia is able to sell debt on international markets again, analysts say, if the war ends and Russia’s geopolitical ambitions change. Without Mr. Putin and with hundreds of billions of dollars in international reserves unfrozen, it could return to markets.
“Capital market access can be restored very quickly,” Mr. Portes said. “Once Russia is back in good political graces and sanctions are lifted.”
“If it’s not a political pariah, it won’t be an economic pariah,” he added.
Reporting was contributed by Ivan Nechepurenko, Andrés R. Martínez, Jim Tankersley and Alan Rappeport.
There is no clear blueprint for corporate engagement on abortion. After numerous companies came forward to announce that they would cover travel expenses for their employees to get abortions, executives have had to move swiftly to both sort out the mechanics of those policies and explain them to a work force concerned about confidentiality and safety.
Few companies have commented directly on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion rights. Far more have responded by expanding their health care policies to cover travel and other expenses for employees who can’t get abortions close to home, now that the procedure is banned in at least eight states with other bans set to soon take effect. About half the country gets its health care coverage from employers, and the wave of new employer commitments has raised concerns from some workers about privacy.
“It’s a doomsday scenario if individuals have to bring their health care choices to their employers,” said Dina Fierro, a global vice president at the cosmetics company Nars, echoing a concern that many workers have expressed on social media in recent days.
Popular Information. Match Group declined to comment.
tweet: “I believe CEOs have a responsibility to take care of their employees — no matter what.”
G7 to announce new Russia sanctions on Tuesday – U.S. official
G7 to work with other countries, private sector on oil price cap
Japan tries to cut zero-emission vehicles goal from G7 statement
SCHLOSS ELMAU, Germany, June 27 (Reuters) – The Group of Seven rich democracies will commit on Tuesday to a new package of coordinated actions meant to raise pressure on Russia over its war in Ukraine, and will finalise plans for a price cap on Russian oil, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.
The announcement came as the White House said Russia had defaulted on its foreign sovereign bonds for the first time in decades – an assertion Moscow rejected – and as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke virtually with G7 leaders meeting at an alpine resort in southern Germany. read more
Zelenskiy asked leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrial democracies for a broad range of military, economic and diplomatic support, according to a European official.
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G7 nations, which generate nearly half the world’s economic output, want to crank up pressure on Russia without stoking already soaring inflation that is causing strains at home and savaging the global south.
The price cap could hit Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war chest while actually lowering energy prices.
“The dual objectives of G7 leaders have been to take direct aim at Putin’s revenues, particularly through energy, but also to minimize the spillovers and the impact on the G7 economies and the rest of the world,” the U.S. official said on the sidelines of the annual G7 summit.
G7 leaders would also make an “unprecedented, long-term security commitment to providing Ukraine with financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support as long as it takes”, including the timely provision of advanced weapons, the White House said in a fact sheet.
Western sanctions have hit Russia’s economy hard and the new measures are aimed at further depriving the Kremlin of oil revenues. G7 countries would work with others – including India – to limit the revenues that Putin can continue to generate, the U.S. official said.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one of the five leaders of guest nations joining the G7 for talks on climate change, energy, health, food security and gender equality on the second day of the summit.
“Since it is a mechanism that could benefit third countries more than Europe,” one EU official said. “These countries are asking questions about the feasibility, but in principle to pay less for energy is a very popular theme.”
U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, European Council President Charles Michel, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson attend a working session with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in virtual attendance, during the G7 leaders summit at Bavaria’s Schloss Elmau castle, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool
TARGETING RUSSIAN GOLD, DEFENCE SECTOR
A U.S. official said news that Russia defaulted on its foreign sovereign bonds for the first time since the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 showed how effective Western sanctions have been.
“This morning’s news around the finding of Russia’s default, for the first time in more than a century, situates just how strong the actions are that the U.S., along with allies and partners, have taken, as well as how dramatic the impact has been on Russia’s economy,” the official added.
The Kremlin, which has the funds to make payments thanks to rich energy revenues, swiftly rejected the U.S. statement, accusing the West of driving it into an artificial default. read more
New sanctions planned by the G7 countries will target Moscow’s military production, crack down on its gold imports and target Russian-installed officials in contested areas. read more
The G7 leaders would task their governments to work intensively on how to implement the Russian price cap, working with countries around the world and stakeholders including the private sector, the official said.
The United States said it would also implement sanctions on hundreds of individuals and entities adding to the more than 1,000 already sanctioned, target companies in several countries and impose tariffs on hundreds of Russia products. read more
The agencies involved would release details on Tuesday to minimize any flight risk, a second senior administration official said.
The Ukraine crisis has detracted attention from another crisis – that of climate change – originally set to dominate the summit. Activists fear Western nations are watering down their climate ambitions as they scramble to find alternatives to Russian gas imports and rely more heavily on coal, a dirtier fossil fuel, instead.
Japan is also pushing to remove a target for zero-emission vehicles from a G7 communique expected this week, according to a proposed draft seen by Reuters. read more
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Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Sarah Marsh, Additional Reporting by Angelo Amante, Phil Blenkinsop; Editing by Thomas Escritt, Mark Heinrich and Alex Richardson
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
LONDON, June 27 (Reuters) – Russia looked set for its first sovereign default in decades as some bondholders said they had not received overdue interest on Monday following the expiry of a key payment deadline a day earlier.
Russia has struggled to keep up payments on $40 billion of outstanding bonds since its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, as sweeping sanctions have effectively cut the country off from the global financial system and rendered its assets untouchable to many investors.
The Kremlin has repeatedly said there are no grounds for Russia to default but it is unable to send money to bondholders because of sanctions, accusing the West of trying to drive it into an artificial default.
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Russia’s efforts to avoid what would be its first major default on international bonds since the Bolshevik revolution more than a century ago hit a insurmountable roadblock in late May when the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) effectively blocked Moscow from making payments.
“Since March we thought that a Russian default is probably inevitable, and the question was just when,” Dennis Hranitzky, head of sovereign litigation at law firm Quinn Emanuel, told Reuters. “OFAC has intervened to answer that question for us, and the default is now upon us.”
While a formal default would be largely symbolic given Russia cannot borrow internationally at the moment and doesn’t need to thanks to plentiful oil and gas export revenues, the stigma would probably raise its borrowing costs in future.
The payments in question are $100 million in interest on two bonds, one denominated in U.S. dollars and another in euros , Russia was due to pay on May 27. The payments had a grace period of 30 days, which expired on Sunday.
Russia’s finance ministry said it made the payments to its onshore National Settlement Depository (NSD) in euros and dollars, adding it has fulfilled obligations.
Some Taiwanese holders of the bonds had not received payments on Monday, sources told Reuters. read more
For many bondholders, not receiving the money owed in time into their accounts constitutes a default.
With no exact deadline specified in the prospectus, lawyers say Russia might have until the end of the following business day to pay the bondholders.
The legal situation surrounding the bonds looks complex.
Russia’s bonds have been issued with an unusual variety of terms, and an increasing level of ambiguities for those sold more recently, when Moscow was already facing sanctions over its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and a poisoning incident in Britain in 2018.
Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal, chair in banking and finance law at Queen Mary University in London, said clarity was needed on what constituted a discharge for Russia on its obligation, or the difference between receiving and recovering payments.
“All these issues are subject to interpretation by a court of law, but Russia has not waived any of its sovereign immunity and has not submitted to the jurisdiction of any court in any of the two prospectuses,” Olivares-Caminal told Reuters.
In some ways, Russia is in default already.
A committee on derivatives has ruled a “credit event” had occurred on some of its securities, which triggered a payout on some of Russia’s credit default swaps – instruments used by investors to insure exposure to debt against default. This was triggered by Russia failing to make a $1.9 million payment in accrued interest on a payment that had been due in early April. read more
Until the Ukraine invasion, a sovereign default had seemed unthinkable, with Russia being rated investment grade up to shortly before that point. A default would also be unusual as Moscow has the funds to service its debt.
The OFAC had issued a temporary waiver, known as a general licence 9A, in early March to allow Moscow to keep paying investors. It let it expire on May 25 as Washington tightened sanctions on Russia, effectively cutting off payments to U.S. investors and entities.
The lapsed OFAC licence is not the only obstacle Russia faces as in early June the European Union imposed sanctions on the NSD, Russia’s appointed agent for its Eurobonds. read more
Moscow has scrambled in recent days to find ways of dealing with upcoming payments and avoid a default.
President Vladimir Putin signed a decree last Wednesday to launch temporary procedures and give the government 10 days to choose banks to handle payments under a new scheme, suggesting Russia will consider its debt obligations fulfilled when it pays bondholders in roubles.
“Russia saying it’s complying with obligations under the terms of the bond is not the whole story,” Zia Ullah, partner and head of corporate crime and investigations at law firm Eversheds Sutherland told Reuters.
“If you as an investor are not satisfied, for instance, if you know the money is stuck in an escrow account, which effectively would be the practical impact of what Russia is saying, the answer would be, until you discharge the obligation, you have not satisfied the conditions of the bond.”
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Reporting by Karin Strohecker; Additional reporting by Emily Chan in Taipeh and Sujata Rao in London; Editing by David Holmes, Emelia Sithole-Matarise & Simon Cameron-Moore
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BERLIN — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seemed like an unexpected opportunity for environmentalists, who had struggled to focus the world’s attention on the kind of energy independence that renewable resources can offer. With the West trying to wean itself from Russian oil and gas, the argument for solar and wind power seemed stronger than ever.
But four months into the war, the scramble to replace Russian fossil fuels has triggered the exact opposite. As the heads of the Group of 7 industrialized nations gather in the Bavarian Alps for a meeting that was supposed to cement their commitment to the fight against climate change, fossil fuels are having a wartime resurgence, with the leaders more focused on bringing down the price of oil and gas than immediately reducing their emissions.
Nations are reversing plans to stop burning coal. They are scrambling for more oil and are committing billions to building terminals for liquefied natural gas, known as L.N.G.
coal plants that had been shuttered or were scheduled to be phased out.
as top economic officials in Ukraine, say it would serve two key purposes: increasing the global supply of oil to put downward pressure on oil and gasoline prices, while reducing Russia’s oil revenue.
Proponents say it is likely that Russia would continue to produce and sell oil even at a discount because it would be easier and more economical than capping wells to cut production. Simon Johnson, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, estimates that it could be in Russia’s economic interest to continue selling oil with a price cap as low as $10 a barrel.
Some proponents say it is possible that China and India would also insist on paying the discounted price, further driving down Russian revenues.
Critics charge that building all 12 terminals would produce an excess capacity. But even half that number would produce three-quarters of the carbon emissions Germany is allowed under international agreements, according to a recent report published by a German environmental watchdog. The terminals would be in use until 2043, far too long for Germany to become carbon neutral by 2045, as pledged by Mr. Scholz’s government.
And countries are not just investing in infrastructure at home.
Last month, Mr. Scholz was in Senegal, one of the developing countries invited to the Group of 7 summit, to discuss cooperating not just on renewables but also on gas extraction and L.N.G. production.
In promoting the Senegal gas project, analysts say, Berlin is violating its own Group of 7 commitment not to offer public financing guarantees for fossil fuel projects abroad.
These contradictions have not gone unnoticed by poorer nations, which are wondering how Group of 7 countries can push for commitments to climate targets while also investing in gas production and distribution.
One explanation is a level of lobbying among fossil fuel companies not seen for years, activists say.
“It looks to me like an attempt by the oil and gas industry to end-run the Paris Agreement,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, an advisory group in Berlin, referring to the landmark 2015 international treaty on climate change. “And I’m very worried they might succeed.”
Ms. Morgan in the German Foreign Ministry shares some of these concerns. “They’re doing everything that they can to move it forward, also in Africa,” she said of the industry. “They want to lock it in. Not just gas, but oil and gas and coal.”
But she and others are still hopeful that the Group of 7 can become a platform for tying climate goals to energy security.
Environmental and foreign policy analysts argue that the Group of 7 could support investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, while pledging funds for poorer nations hit with the brunt of climate disasters.
Above all, activists warn, rich countries need to resist the temptation to react to the short-term energy shortages by once again betting on fossil fuel infrastructure.
“All the arguments are on the table now,” said Ms. Neubauer, the Fridays for Future activist. “We know exactly what fossil fuels do to the climate. We also know very well that Putin is not the only autocrat in the world. We know that no democracy can be truly free and secure as long as it depends on fossil fuel imports.”
Katrin Bennhold Bennhold reported from Berlin, and Jim Tankersley from Telfs, Austria. Erika Solomon and Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting from Berlin.
BRUSSELS — European leaders meeting in Brussels this week were eager to focus on granting Ukraine E.U. candidate status, but have also had to address a pressing problem linked to the war: Russia has slowly been turning off the gas tap.
The tapering of gas to Germany in recent days has forced the country, Europe’s economic engine, to escalate its energy emergency protocol and urge Germans to save power. The next step is rationing.
E.U. leaders on Friday asked the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, to come up with policy proposals to collectively handle the possibility that Russia, using Europe’s enduring dependence on its gas supplies to inflict pain on Ukraine’s supporters, could further reduce the gas flow or even cut off countries completely.
“We have seen the pattern not only of that last weeks and months, but looking back in hindsight, also the pattern of last year, when you look at Gazprom filling the storage — or I should say not filling the storage, because last year they were at a 10 years low,” the commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Friday.
“Now it’s 12 member states that have either been totally cut off or partially,” she added.
Ms. von der Leyen said she would ask her experts to propose an emergency plan to tackle possible shortages going into the winter. The commission has already promoted joint purchasing and storing of gas by E.U. members as a safety measure, should one nation get disconnected. After gas supplies were cut off to Bulgaria, for example, Greece stepped up to help supply its neighbor and fellow E.U. member.
But if Russia decides to hurt Europe for its support of Ukraine by further slashing supplies from its energy giant, Gazprom, it is far from clear that such ad hoc solidarity would work in the winter, when the bloc’s energy demands are much higher.
The E.U. has imposed sanctions on Russian fossil fuels, including a broad ban on Russian oil imports that will come into effect at the end of the year. But it has not been able to do the same with Russian gas, on which it is hugely reliant, because it has not yet lined up sufficient alternatives. Gas prices, meanwhile, have surged, costing European buyers dearly and softening the effect of the sanctions on Russia.
And whatever solutions European leaders devise for the growing problem would take effect in months. For now, member states have to tackle possible shortages largely on their own.
Ms. von der Leyen said that she had been asked to present her proposals at the next E.U. leaders’ summit in October, and that she expected her staff to finish drafting them in September.
In the meantime, she urged people to use less power.
“We should not only replace the gas, but also always take the opportunity of the energy savings. I cannot emphasize that enough,” she said, adding that Europeans could save greatly if they turned down their air-conditioners in the summer and their heaters as the temperature drops.
Gas is not the only urgent question facing world leaders. Diplomats also gathered in Berlin on Friday, ahead of a G-7 summit in Germany on Sunday, to discuss the growing global food crisis set off by the inability of Ukraine to export its grain. Earlier this week, the United Nations said that the war had pushed tens of millions of people into food insecurity.
Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, welcomedSecretary of State Antony Blinken; Italy’s foreign minister, Luigi di Maio; and other officials to discuss possible solutions.
Before the war, Ukraine exported millions of metric tons of grain monthly, mostly via seaports that are now blockaded. Officials weighed the possibility of moving the grain by land, a far slower and more complicated endeavor.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Blinken said that while the food crisis would continue for some time, it was important to not let Russia get away with violating fundamental human rights of the Ukrainian people.
Stopping at the edge of a vast field of barley on his farm in Prundu, 30 miles outside Romania’s capital city of Bucharest, Catalin Corbea pinched off a spiky flowered head from a stalk, rolled it between his hands, and then popped a seed in his mouth and bit down.
“Another 10 days to two weeks,” he said, explaining how much time was needed before the crop was ready for harvest.
Mr. Corbea, a farmer for nearly three decades, has rarely been through a season like this one. The Russians’ bloody creep into Ukraine, a breadbasket for the world, has caused an upheaval in global grain markets. Coastal blockades have trapped millions of tons of wheat and corn inside Ukraine. With famine stalking Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, a frenetic scramble for new suppliers and alternate shipping routes is underway.
barge that had sunk in World War II.
Rain was not as plentiful in Prundu as Mr. Corbea would have liked it to be, but the timing was opportune when it did come. He bent down and picked up a fistful of dark, moist soil and caressed it. “This is perfect land,” he said.
67.5 million tons of cargo, more than a third of it grain. Now, with Odesa’s port closed off, some Ukrainian exports are making their way through Constanta’s complex.
Railway cars, stamped “Cereale” on their sides, spilled Ukrainian corn onto underground conveyor belts, sending up billowing dust clouds last week at the terminal operated by the American food giant Cargill. At a quay operated by COFCO, the largest food and agricultural processor in China, grain was being loaded onto a cargo ship from one of the enormous silos that lined its docks. At COFCO’s entry gate, trucks that displayed Ukraine’s distinctive blue-and-yellow-striped flag on their license plates waited for their cargoes of grain to be inspected before unloading.
During a visit to Kyiv last week, Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, said that since the beginning of the invasion more than a million tons of Ukrainian grain had passed through Constanta to locations around the world.
But logistical problems prevent more grain from making the journey. Ukraine’s rail gauges are wider than those elsewhere in Europe. Shipments have to be transferred at the border to Romanian trains, or each railway car has to be lifted off a Ukrainian undercarriage and wheels to one that can be used on Romanian tracks.
Truck traffic in Ukraine has been slowed by backups at border crossings — sometimes lasting days — along with gas shortages and damaged roadways. Russia has targeted export routes, according to Britain’s defense ministry.
Romania has its own transit issues. High-speed rail is rare, and the country lacks an extensive highway system. Constanta and the surrounding infrastructure, too, suffer from decades of underinvestment.
Over the past couple of months, the Romanian government has plowed money into clearing hundreds of rusted wagons from rail lines and refurbishing tracks that were abandoned when the Communist regime fell in 1989.
Still, trucks entering and exiting the port from the highway must share a single-lane roadway. An attendant mans the gate, which has to be lifted for each vehicle.
When the bulk of the Romanian harvest begins to arrive at the terminals in the next couple of weeks, the congestion will get significantly worse. Each day, 3,000 to 5,000 trucks will arrive, causing backups for miles on the highway that leads into Constanta, said Cristian Taranu, general manager at the terminals run by the Romanian port operator Umex.
Mr. Mircea’s farm is less than a 30-minute drive from Constanta. But “during the busiest periods, my trucks are waiting two, three days” just to enter the port’s complex so they can unload, he said through a translator.
That is one reason he is less sanguine than Mr. Corbea is about Romania’s ability to take advantage of farming and export opportunities.
“Port Constanta is not prepared for such an opportunity,” Mr. Mircea said. “They don’t have the infrastructure.”
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–EVgo Inc. (NASDAQ: EVGO), the nation’s largest public fast charging network for electric vehicles (EVs) and first powered by 100% renewable electricity, today announced that the company was selected for proposed awards for two new California Energy Commission (CEC) Reliable, Equitable, and Accessible Charging for multi-family Housing (REACH) grants totaling $3.6M. These funds will be used to deploy new high-powered direct current fast chargers (DCFC) near multi-family housing (MFH) units. In addition, local community residents will be eligible for discounted EVgo rates as part of the project.
“EVgo is thrilled to work with the California Energy Commission to keep making it easier for more drivers to go electric with wider access to convenient, reliable and affordable EV charging solutions,” said Cathy Zoi, CEO at EVgo. “There are more than 6 million Californians1 like me who live in apartment buildings, and fast charging nearby is key for us to drive EVs. By partnering with the state on these grants, we can go even further to pair infrastructure for everyone with incentives for nearby residents of underserved and impacted communities – ensuring equitable access to these resources for all.”
In November 2021, the CEC released a grant solicitation and application package entitled “Reliable, Equitable, and Accessible Charging for multi-family Housing (REACH)” as part of its Clean Transportation Program. The solicitation was an offer to demonstrate replicable and scalable business and technology models for large-scale deployment of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure capable of maximizing access and EV travel for multi-family housing (MFH) residents, from DCFC nearby those residents to level 2 (L2) chargers in and around the residential buildings themselves. The solicitation defined MFH as residential properties with multiple dwelling units, but excluded single-family dwellings (detached), duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, and mobile homes. Projects under the REACH grant must include charger installations that will benefit and be used by MFH residents within disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, or a combination of both.
“Forth is excited to partner with EVgo in providing outreach and education to communities in California to help increase awareness and understanding of the benefits and availability of electric transportation solutions in their neighborhoods,” commented Jeff Allen, Executive Director, Forth. “Equitable and convenient access to charging infrastructure is a key element of expanding widespread adoption of electric transportation and is a central tenet of our work.”
As part of EVgo’s commitment to Electric for All, EVgo integrates the EPA’s EJ Screening Tool – an environmental justice mapping and screening tool based on nationally consistent data — to identify potential site locations that can increase infrastructure access for low-income individuals, people of color and underserved communities, as these communities tend to have the fewest charging options while experiencing greater impacts of pollution. Public charging options, and fast charging in particular, can help mitigate this disconnect while fueling the transition to electric by servicing more densely populated areas. In 2021, EVgo achieved its goal to increase such access to charging each quarter and reached a PM2.5 EJScreen demographic score of 51% for its chargers – meaning a majority are within a ten-minute drive of areas with high particulate matter (PM2.5) levels in the air. Today, the company is developing new benchmarking strategies to improve equity and access to its solutions.
For more information around the locations of fast charger’s within EVgo’s charging network, visit www.evgo.com.
EVgo (Nasdaq: EVGO) is the nation’s largest public fast charging network for electric vehicles, and the first to be powered by 100% renewable energy. As of the end of the first quarter 2022, with more than 850 charging locations, EVgo’s owned and operated charging network serves over 60 metropolitan areas across more than 30 states and approximately 375,000 customer accounts. Founded in 2010, EVgo leads the way on transportation electrification, partnering with automakers; fleet and rideshare operators; retail hosts such as hotels, shopping centers, gas stations and parking lot operators; and other stakeholders to deploy advanced charging technology to expand network availability and make it easier for drivers across the U.S. to enjoy the benefits of driving an EV. As a charging technology first mover, EVgo works closely with business and government leaders to accelerate the ubiquitous adoption of EVs by providing a reliable and convenient charging experience close to where drivers live, work and play, whether for a daily commute or a commercial fleet.