Imagine February 2023 Ukraine is surrounded by four battalions of troops. Gusts of wind are blowing so fiercely that even the heavy tactical gears worn by Russian soldiers seem like rice paper umbrellas. One could count 175.000 heads deployed on ground and sea, if there was any other than a civilian out there to actually give testimony. The war had been announced and more than ever Ukraine was on the verge of witnessing how the European Union had not kept its promises of being a beacon of democracy.
In preparation for the 2021 COP 26 Conference in Glasgow, the United Kingdom (UK) published an ambitious white paper entitled “Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener” in which it outlines policies to achieve a greenhouse gas (GHG) neutral economy by 2050.1 This makes the UK the first country to implement a legally binding timeline. In line with this strategy, the Government aims to mobilize up to £270 billion in public and private sector funds to transition the Power and Energy sector.2 Crucially, instead of viewing the Oil and Gas sector as an impediment to GHG neutrality, the Government envisions the sector to play a leading role in the energy transition .4 As part of the Net Zero Strategy, the relevant UK regulatory body , the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), has echoed the urgency to achieve GHG neutrality. In its “Revised Strategy”, the OGA warned that it would exercise its punitive powers should companies fail to comply with the timeline.5 Thus, the objectives of the government’s Net Zero Strategy are two-fold: in political-environmental terms, it is to achieve GHG neutrality to curb climate change and position the UK as a global paragon in environmental governance; secondly, it seeks to walk the fine line between incentivizing and coercing the Oil and Gas sector to accelerate its transition towards carbon neutrality and beyond 2050, towards renewable energies.
The 1960’s Indus Water Treaty was the first intervention of a global organization – the World Bank – that focused not only on keeping peace at the border between Pakistan and India but also pursued regional development(United Nations, 1962, p.140; Akhter, 2015, p.68). The World Bank’s proposal – the dam and its subsidiaries built along the basin – left some wariness on the outcome’s success. It split the use of water along the border and limited the type of economic activity of the neighbouring countries sharing the basin (Akhter, 2015, p.65). Nowadays, the Punjab and the North-Western regions are rich in energy – provided by the dam’s hydroelectric power – but is still an arid area where regular water consumption comes in considerably from groundwater pumped through solar panels. Strangely enough, the North-Eastern regions of India face the opposite case with the Ganga River Basin overflowing.
The valley of Ica, located on the desert coast of Peru, south of Lima, has been a significant agricultural and energy producer due to its year-round sunny weather and strong desert winds. The soil nutrients and weather conditions provide crop flexibility that can adjust according to the available water supply (Swedwatch, 2018). Recently however, as a result of climate change, it has been inevitable for farmers – both big and small – to suffer a significant reduction in the water supply of the region’s main rivers. Its neighbour in the Andes, Huancavelica, an impoverished mountainous region with little access and benefits from national development, enjoys enough water flow from the River Pampas (Gestion, 2019). This river runs across the Ica region and into the Pacific Ocean without benefitting the valleys since it does not connect to any main irrigating river where most agricultural activity concentrates. After years of dispute escalated to national authorities, the central government approved a project for constructing a dam and detour of the River Pampas (Gestion, 2019).
On 12 April 2020, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with Russia and other non-member oil exporting countries, agreed to a record oil production cut of 9.7 million barrels a day (mb/d) in an attempt to ease a global supply glut and boost crude oil prices. This decision was made against the backdrop of the global Covid-19 pandemic that has caused a steep reduction in the demand for crude oil and led to a drop in oil prices. These curbs will stay in place for May and June, after which they will reduce to 7.7m b/d for the rest of the year, and then 5.8m b/d from January 2021 to April 2022 if compliance with the quotas is enforced. Many experts remain legitimately concerned with the global demand decline as the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts an overall demand drop of 9m b/d in 2020 (29m b/d reduction for April alone) compared to 2019, erasing almost a decade of growth. However, this short-term surplus of oil shouldn’t overshadow the structural issues of oil markets and the concerns regarding future oil supplies.