By Aaron Brinckerhoff, European Affairs Editorial Assistant

Europe’s quest for gas from the Caspian Sea – by-passing the near monopoly supplier Russia -- continues to be dogged by failure to secure a single provider.  The planned Nabucco pipeline, which would run 4,000 kilometers, or nearly 2,500 miles, from eastern Turkey to Austria, has long been the EU’s chief hope of securing a reliable supply of natural gas from the Caspian region--Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Iraq. (The name Nabucco comes from the Verdi opera seen by the founding developers of the project.) For years, EU leaders and member states, along with successive U.S. administrations, have regarded this pipeline as crucial for Europe’s long-term security

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Somber headlines abound these days about the lack of global progress in combating climate change. Certainly, the renewable energy business in the U.S. has entered a rough patch.

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In the stepped-up Western sanctions on Iran – now at “unprecedented levels” – a significant and enabling development has been the agreement of Germany to participate in the pan-European embargo on Iranian oil after years of reluctance in Berlin to act so strongly against Tehran.

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Time to Reform the EU Emission Trading Scheme by Thomas Spencer and Emmanuel Guérin in European Energy Review. The EU’s pioneering Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) has come to be seen as largely ineffectual as a cap-and-trade approach to curbing carbons. This comprehensive analysis recommends major reforms to save it. Recommended by European Affairs. (1/27)

A decision to halt EU oil imports from Iran, taken Monday by a meeting of the EU’s foreign ministers, marks the strongest step taken so far by Europe to counter Iran’s suspected nuclear ambitions.

It coincided with an expansion of U.S. sanctions (which have long barred Iranian oil) to include Iran’s third-largest bank. A steeper financial escalation is under active consideration by the Obama administration in the form of action to cut U.S. dealings with Iran’s central bank and press allied capitals to join in isolating Iran financially. Such a move would make it harder for Tehran to use oil revenues for international purchases aimed at strengthening the country’s nuclear program.

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