Examples of projects from across Europe
According to the Commission, a major transnational project will restore degraded peatlands in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland. We can only succeed if we work together, across sectors. A Bulgarian project team will protect breeding, wintering and migrating populations of bird species by reducing deaths from electricity infrastructure. This is the first batch of projects selected under the new programming period 2021-2027 which sees an increase of the funding by almost 60%. It has been running since 1992 and has co-financed more than 5,500 projects across the EU and countries outside the EU. LIFE has four new sub-programmes: nature and biodiversity, circular economy and quality of life, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and clean energy transition. “COP26 in Glasgow acknowledged the need to accelerate our actions still this decade. LIFE projects show how this can be done. Actions foreseen include restoring the carbon sink function of peatlands, contributing to the EU’s ambition to be climate-neutral by 2050. They will identify the riskiest medium-voltage power lines and replace overhead electricity lines with underground cables in the most important sections. Nearly €29 million of which will come from LIFE funds. The total budget is €13 million of which the EU is contributing more than €7 million. The projects approved on November 25 and the four sub-programmes will start receiving financing from 2022. These have a total budget of more than €19 million, of which the EU will contribute close to €11 million. The LIFE programme funding for the 2021 – 2027 period stands at €5.4 billion. With the European Green Deal, the European Union is working to reduce emissions, restore nature, and ensure sustainable use of resources. EUROPEAN UNION, 2020/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/PIERO CRUCIATTI

More than €290 million to help boost climate neutrality, biodiversity and green recovery

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The European Commission approved on November 25 an investment package of more than €290 million for 132 new projects under the LIFE programme for the environment and climate action. Moreover, 45 LIFE environment and resource efficiency projects will mobilise €162 million, of which the EU will provide €78 million. According to the Commission, 39 LIFE nature & biodiversity projects will support the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives as well as the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. Finally, 6 LIFE climate governance and information projects will improve climate governance and inform the public and stakeholders about climate change. This project contributes among others to the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Waste Framework Directive. Additionally, 8 LIFE environmental governance and information projects will raise awareness of environmental issues such as biodiversity loss and air pollution. They will also give public authorities the tools to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with EU environmental legislation. €55 million will be invested in 10 projects to reduce waste, contributing to the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan. For his part, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius stressed that currently the interconnected crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution are the defining challenges. “To address them, we need a profound transformation of our societies and economies, achieving a carbon-neutral future and learning to live within the boundaries of our planet. It is also investing more than €70 million in various climate change mitigation, adaptation, and governance and information projects. They have a total budget of €249 million, of which the EU will pay €134 million. This EU funding will mobilise a total investment of €562 million, with projects in almost all Member States, the Commission said, adding that the new LIFE projects will help Europe become a climate-neutral continent by 2050, put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030, and contribute to the EU green recovery post-Covid-19. The project will also raise groundwater levels and help conserve species and habitats protected under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. Furthermore, 17 LIFE climate change mitigation projects will have funds of approximately €66 million, of which the EU will provide around €35 million. The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. Both projects support the EU Renovation Wave, launched in October last year. A Polish project will demonstrate the feasibility of using renewable energy for cooling public buildings and a project from France will set up an innovative system to optimise resource use and recover waste from local construction and public works. “The climate and biodiversity crises are truly existential crises and there is no time to lose,” EU Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said. Project examples include promoting climate neutral farming as well as improving heat recovery in iron and steel manufacturing. With this new package, the Commission has earmarked some €223 million to projects on environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Commission approves EU funding for nature, environment and climate action projects

By New Europe Online/KG

P-046554

The Toce river basin in the Italian Western Alps, Verbania, Italy. Also, 17 LIFE climate change adaptation projects will mobilise some €52 million. Projects include adapting forests to extreme weather events and boosting the climate adaptation capacities of Europe’s health infrastructure. They have a strong impact on the ground, showcasing the added value of European cooperation,” Sinkevicius said. This project contributes to the EU Birds Directive’s implementation on the ground. Another project will see Italian chefs promoting climate-smart, nutritious and affordable diets, reducing food waste through awareness-raising, communication and education campaigns, targeting customers, staff and others. LIFE projects are a perfect example: they bring citizens, public bodies, industry and NGOs together to work for the climate and environment,” he added. Another €50 million will fund 16 water quality projects.

A Notice of Sale for up to 18 million barrels of SPR crude oil will be announced no sooner than December 17, 2021. Exchange crude oil will be returned to the SPR in calendar years 2022, 2023, and 2024. Any company registered in the SPR’s Crude Oil Sales Offer Program is eligible to participate in the exchange and/or the upcoming Congressionally mandated sale, the DOE said, adding that other interested companies may register through the SPR website’s Crude Oil Sales Offer Program. Companies interested in receiving crude oil through the exchange must submit bids no later than 10:00 a.m. It is a critical tool that has a long history of protecting the economy and American livelihoods in times of economic challenge. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Tackling oil prices, US to release 50 mln barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

By New Europe Online/KG

At the direction of US President Joe Biden, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm authorized that 50 million barrels of crude oil from the U.S. As the global economy recovers from the pandemic, oil supply has failed to increase at a pace necessary to meet demand, the DOE said in a press release. Biden administration responds to rising gas prices ahead of the holiday season

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In response to the highest oil prices in seven years, the Biden administration has taken a decisive action to address lack of supply and lower prices for Americans at the pump by making available 50 million barrels of crude oil from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Companies that receive SPR crude oil through the exchange agree to return the amount of crude oil received, as well as an additional amount that depends on how long they hold the oil. “This action underscores the President’s commitment to using the tools available to bring down costs for working families and to continue our economic recovery.”
According to the DOE, the exchange will be conducted with crude oil from all four SPR storage sites:  approximately 10 million barrels from Big Hill, TX; approximately 10 million barrels from Bryan Mound, TX; approximately 7 million barrels from West Hackberry, LA; approximately 5 million barrels from Bayou Choctaw, LA. The decision on November 23 is in response to the highest oil prices experienced in seven years and aims to ensure adequate supply as we exit the pandemic. US President Joe Biden told US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on November 23 to authorize the release of the crude. In response to the announcement on November 23, the DOE will make available up to 32 million barrels of SPR crude oil available through an exchange and accelerate the timeline for a sale of an additional 18 million barrels mandated by Congress in Section 30204 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-123). “As we come out of an unprecedented global economic shutdown, oil supply has not kept up with demand, forcing working families and businesses to pay the price,” Granholm said. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) be made available. The SPR is the world’s largest supply of emergency crude oil, and the federally owned oil stocks are stored in underground salt caverns at four storage sites in Texas and Louisiana. Central Time, December 6, 2021, and contracts will be awarded to successful offerors no later than December 14, 2021, the DOE said, adding that deliveries will take place January through April 2022, with early deliveries accepted in late December. The exchange creates a bridge from today’s high price environment to a period of lower prices, and automatically provides for restocking the SPR over time. The announcement was made is in parallel with other major energy consuming nations including China, India, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. An exchange is a mechanism specifically suited to the current economic environment, where markets expect future oil prices to be lower than they are today, the DOE said.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Qatar is forging its own path

By New Europe
The European political newspaper

A general view of the Qatari capital, Doha. Over the past two decades, the Pentagon has come to see the country as one of Washington’s most reliable partners in the Middle East. Its citizens, today numbering an estimated 2.9 million, have benefitted greatly. Though Doha is not a part of the Abraham Accords, which was signed by Israel and several other Arab nations in order to establish formal diplomatic ties, Qatar’s own dialogue with their Israeli counterparts dates back to 1996, when the two countries established important trade relations. The nation’s independent approach to foreign policy has even spilt over into the complicated issue of relations with Israel. The discovery of the world’s largest gas field in 1971 has led Qatar to account for 30 percent of the global market. The per capita GDP of the country is one of the highest in the world, over twice that of Saudi Arabia. Though that move irked some governments in the region, the relationship between Washinton and Doha has only further deepened. The company employs more than 43,000 people and is regularly lauded as one of the best air carriers in the world. Since the establishment of joint operations at the base, Doha has contributed an estimated $8 billion since 2003 toward developing the base and has hosted thousands of Afghan refugees since the August withdrawal.  
The country’s greatest global reach, thus far, has been through the highly influential Al Jazeera television network. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced earlier in November that Qatar will establish an American interest section within its embassy in Afghanistan to provide certain consular services and monitor the condition and security of American diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan. Strategically jutting out into the Persian Gulf, the country has, over the last several decades, emerged as one of the few Middle East’s rare success stories. The key to that has been the independent and ‘doing it its own way’ spirit that is deeply inculcated into Qatar’s DNA. Only recently, both the airline and its hub – Hamad International Airport – were given a five-star rating by the international air transport rating organization Skytrax for COVID safety. American universities Georgetown, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon and Texas A&M, all of which have branches in Qatar. The one exception to this overarching rule is the peninsular country of Qatar. Gas riches and a ‘go-its-own-way’ mindset within Qatari society and its government, including the nation’s royal family, has utterly transformed the country since the early 1970s. This has turned the capital, Doha, into a ‘Switzerland-on-the-Gulf’; a locale where rival factions from Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and Lebanon, amongst others, have come to hash out peace deals and ceasefires that ended decades of conflicts in their respective countries. On the domestic social level, unlike the austere practices of Saudi Arabia, Qatari women have been able to drive and publicly socialize for decades and religious minorities, including Christians, are legally allowed to openly practice their faith. Following the American withdrawal from Afghanistan this past August. The Al Udeid Air Base, south of Doha, is home to US Central Command’s forward headquarters and the American military’s air operations center for the entire region. None of these could have been possible, however, without Qatar having been bold enough to take the time and to use its own resources to establish and cultivate its own international footprint. Instead, Qatar has emerged from that turmoil as a regional peacemaker. Having largely avoided the chaotic turmoil that resulted from the Arab Spring, and unlike Syria, Egypt and Libya, Qatar has not faced any of the immediate threats to its national security or its political stability, conditions that became commonplace for nearly every other Arab nation after the uprsings first began in 2011. Qatari citizens own some of the West’s most iconic brand names, including Harrods department store, a share in London’s Heathrow Airport, the Paris Saint-Germain football club and the Shard, western Europe’s tallest building, to name a few. A spirit of independence and self-determination has led the peninsular Gulf nation to emerge as a major geopolitical and economic player in the Middle East 

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A quick look at a map of the Near East and North Africa reveals two key facts: 1) The region is politically divided into sparsely populated, but geographically enormous nations on one side; smaller countries on the other, most of which are politically, economically and socially unstable.  
These societal building blocks have helped to shape Qatar’s branded image, one that highlights the country’s goal of being an indispensable promoter of peace in the region and a more than capable of hosting major international events that range from fashion weeks, cybersecurity conferences, an annual Formula 1 Grand Prix and the 2006 Asian Games, which laid the groundwork and provided much of the initial infrastructure for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. Regarded by the outside world for most of the 20th-century as an underdeveloped backwater whose livelihood revolved around pearl diving and camel herding, the Qataris lagged far behind their oil-rich Saudi neighbors for decades. The country’s national flag carrier, Qatar Airways, flies to over 150 international destinations around the world. Since 2003, the year the Americans’ invasion of Iraq first began, Qatar has hosted a vast US airbase. Since its launch in 1996, Al Jazeera has utterly transformed the concept of free speech in a region where independent or critical reports, outside of state-censored media outlets, is the norm, Al Jazeera’s willingness to broadcast unfiltered views and interviews with a wide array of both guests and commentators have sent shockwaves across the Arab States of Persian Gulf.