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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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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The zeal for ever-tougher controls on carbon emissions seems to be seeping away in Europe, too – a trend measuring a dramatic U.S. shift away from cap-and-trade and carbon ceilings under the Obama administration.

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"A Stopgap for Climate Change" by Elisabeth Rosenthal. A new UN report says: targeting "black carbon" (soot) could immediately begin to protect climate, public health, water and food security, and ecosystems.  This idea seems more otimely than ever in a political situation tilted against big programs to curb carbon emissions. See the piece published by European Affairs here, after a European Institute meeting that aired the subject of black carbon in the Arctic.