So how was your year?
Here is a brief look at some of the biggest energy stories of the past year from around the globe.
The year got off to a chilly start for many Europeans on January 1st, as a pricing dispute over natural gas between Russia and Ukraine shut off supplies to much of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. This latest ‘gas war’ left many without heat in a very cold January. This latest incident has led the European Union to seek diversification of energy supplies away from Russia, mostly through the Nabucco pipeline.
Barack Hussein Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States January 20th on the promise of change from his predecessor, George W. Bush. This was especially pertinent in the energy and foreign policy fields. Although the official line towards alternative energy, conservation and climate change has differed, a comprehensive energy policy is still absent. Obama’s campaign promises are hitherto unfulfilled.
In what is the LA story of the year, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson died on June 25th. This knocked a much more important story off the international headlines. Mass protests that were occurring in Iran over a contested presidential election did not seem to be quite as important to the mainstream media as the gloved one’s demise. Despite Iran being one of the world’s top oil and natural gas producers and its central role to the world’s energy architecture, it was pushed to aside to cover every possible theory/ramification of Michael’s death. This moment was a defining moment for new media as Iran’s election ushered in Twitter and the blogosphere as an effective means to convey information in countries with no press freedoms and to organize political resistance.
Back in America, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 passed the House of Representatives on June 26th. Someday it will head to the Senate where it will be watered-down some more. If there is anything left of this Waxman-Markey bill by the time it reaches the president’s desk, it could develop a better energy policy in America. Watch this space for further details.
In other Middle Eastern news (energy issues and the Middle East seem to coincide quite often for some strange reason), the “Coalition of the Willing” no longer has the will to continue in Iraq as Australian troops left country on July 28th. That withdrawal left the US the lone country to tend with this ongoing operation, now in its fifth year.
By the autumn of 2009, the American national unemployment rate was 10%. Energy projects are seen as a key for reinvigorating the economy by providing new jobs in building construction, retrofitting of homes and development of alternative energy. Money is yet to flow into green economic projects as unemployment is set to remain high well into 2010.
The end out the year brought the most important environmental conference in history, which took place in Copenhagen from December 7th-18th. The result was a non-binding declaration with no real targets for emissions reduction. The conference ended with much disappointment for those who wanted a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. It did not happen.
Better luck next year!