Global Review – 30th August

Calls for ‘emergency intervention’ in electricity market

The worsening energy crisis besieging Europe has laid bare the “limitations” of the electricity market and requires an “emergency intervention” to bring down soaring prices, ‘Euronews’ quotes European Commission president as saying. Addressing the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia, Ursula von der Leyen said, “The skyrocketing electricity prices are now exposing, for different reasons, the limitations of our current electricity market design. The market was developed under completely different circumstances and for completely different purposes. It is no longer fit for purpose. That is why we, the Commission, are now working on an emergency intervention and a structural reform of the electricity market. We need a new market model for electricity that really functions and brings us back into balance.” She did not unveil further details.

Today, the EU’s wholesale electricity market works on the basis of marginal pricing, also known as “pay-as-clear market”. Under this system, all electricity producers – from fossils fuels to wind and solar – bid into the market and offer power according to their production costs. The bidding starts from the cheapest resources – the renewables – and finishes with the most expensive one – usually gas.Since most EU countries still rely on fossil fuels to meet all their energy demands, the final price of electricity is often set by the price of gas. If gas becomes more expensive, electricity bills inevitably go up, even if clean, cheaper sources also contribute to the total energy supply.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought the market design to its most extreme limits, fuelling calls for state intervention and meaningful reforms. Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, Italy and Belgium are among those calling for a “decoupling” of gas and electricity prices to put an end to the contagion effect. The Czech Presidency of the EU Council has already convened an extraordinary meeting of energy ministers, scheduled to take place on September 9.

Last orders for British pubs?

A number of Tuesday’s London papers lead with the soaring cost of energy prices. ‘Metro’ focuses on a warning from brewery bosses that thousands of pubs will shut forever unless the government steps in to help them cope with rocketing fuel bills. One pub tenant in the 2,700-strong Greene King group has seen a £33,000 (€38,600) increase in his energy bill this year, said chief executive Nick Mackenzie.

Kiev announces counter-offensive

Ukraine has launched a counter-offensive in the Kherson region, in the south of the country, the Ukrainian southern military command announced Monday.     “Today we started offensive actions in various directions, including in the Kherson region,” said Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for the command. This was also confirmed by the Ukrainian agency Ukrinform which quotes Serhiy Khlan, a deputy of the Kherson Regional Council, according to which Ukrainian troops have penetrated the Russian first line of defence on the Kherson front. According to the same source, “Sunday night and Monday morning, the Ukrainian army attacks hit Kherson, Antonivka, Oleshky, Nova Kakhovka, Liubymivka and Beryslav”. Furthermore, according to reports, the 109th regiment of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic (DPR) of the Russian invasion forces withdrew from its defence positions in the Kherson region, while a Russian air assault unit that was supposed to supporting the regiment would have fled the battlefield, according to reports Ukrinform. Meanwhile, AGI reports that on September 8, US and allied defence ministers would meet to discuss the war situation while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announces a conference on reconstruction for  October 25.

Kiev offensive on Kherson? Fake news

The commander of the Russian armed forces in Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, has denied an offensive by Ukrainian troops in Kherson and in the southern chessboard of the conflict. “This is yet another fake news, he said, of Ukrainian propaganda. It is another bogus story like all the previous ones.”

500,000 Pakistani homless

Nearly a half million people crowded into camps after losing their homes in widespread flooding and Climate Minister Sherry Rehman warned Monday that Pakistan is on the “front line” of the world’s climate crisis after unprecedented monsoon rains wracked the country, killing more than 1,130 people– one third of whom were children. Although the rains stopped more than two days ago, Pakistanis in many parts of the country were still wading through waters that filled their homes as they struggled with how to deal with the damage to homes and businesses. Rehman said one-third of the country was completely submerged by the historic flooding and the Planning Minister said early estimates show the devastating floods have caused at least €10.5bn of damage.

15 protesters killed in Iraq Green zone

Fifteen supporters of Moqtada Sadr were shot dead in Baghdad’s Green Zone following his announced withdrawal from politics, according to medical sources. Some 350 protesters were injured, some by bullets and others by inhaling tear gas, in the chaos that enveloped the highly protected area in the centre of the Iraqi capital which is home to government institutions and embassies. In the late evening, new mortar rounds hit some buildings in the Green Zone. UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres hascalled for calm and restraint and urged all actors concerned to take immediate measures to reduce the escalation of the situation and avoid any violence. The Iraqi army Monday declared a nationwide curfew.

Fuel leaks delay launch of NASA’s lunar rocket  

Fuel leaks and a possible crack discovered during final lift-off preparations delayed the launch of NASA’s mighty new moon rocket Monday morning on its shakedown flight with three test dummies aboard. As precious minutes ticked away, NASA repeatedly stopped and started the fuelling of the Space Launch System rocket with nearly one million gallons of super-cold hydrogen and oxygen because of a leak. The fuelling already was running nearly an hour late because of thunderstorms off Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre. The leak appeared in the same place that saw seepage during a dress rehearsal in the spring. Then a second apparent leak in a valve turned up, officials said. Later in the morning, a crack or some other defect was spotted on the core stage – the big orange fuel tank with four main engines on it – with frost appearing around the suspect area, NASA officials said. Engineers began studying the buildup. The next launch attempt would not be until Friday at the earliest.

Italian Centre-Right rises towards 50% of the votes

A new survey in view of the Italian elections on September 25 confirms the trend of the past few weeks with the Center-Right rising further to almost 50% of preferences in the uninominal (49.7% in both the House and the Senate) while the Center-Left loses 0.5% compared to the previous survey (28.5% in the House, 28.4% in the Senate). In slight growth are the M5s and theThird Pole, just as the number of voters still undecided decreased by 0.4%.

Liverpool mum gets life after killing partner with boiling water

A 59-year-old Liverpool mum got a life sentence after murdering her 80-year-old husband by pouring boiling water mixed with sugar over his body as he slept after she’d just heard allegations he’d sexually abused her two children. Corinna Smith was incensed on learning claims from her daughter that partner Michael Baines had preyed on the children when they were much younger. Described as being “livid and “fuming”, the 59-year-old took a bucket from her garden, boiled up two kettles of water and mixed it with three bags of sugar… and poured the boiling liquid over him. Baines suffered significant burns to 36% of his body and was taken to hospital where he died a month later, on August 18, last year. Smith has been ordered to serve a minimum of 12 years behind bars before parole can be considered.

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