January - June 2011

Germany confirms human E. coli transmission
19 June 2011 – Al Jazeera
Health officials in Germany have confirmed that they have detected the first case of human-to-human transmission of the deadly strain of E. coli bacterium that has claimed the lives of almost 40 people. Authorities say a woman working in a kitchen of a catering company near Frankfurt, in the state of Hesse, became infected with the bacterium after eating sprouts and passed it on to 20 people she prepared food for."Now we have the proof that in this case a human passed on the germ to the vegetables and then it was passed to other humans," Daniel Bahr, Germany's health minister, said on Saturday, during a visit to the Institute of Hygiene of the University Hospital in Muenster. Cases began appearing at the start of May and the outbreak swelled to crisis level over the following three weeks, with the city of Hamburg at the epicentre. 
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Sarkozy and Kan pledge to improve nuclear safety measures
31 March 2011 – The New York Times – David Jolly
In the first visit of a foreign leader to Japan since the disastrous March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear crisis, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan underscored the need to improve nuclear safety standards in a joint press conference. “We have to thoroughly investigate the incident to understand how it occurred…we want to make nuclear power safer,” said Kan. Sarkozy recommended a meeting of global nuclear regulators to discuss the Japanese crisis in May, prior to a June summit of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Kyodo news agency earlier Thursday cited a Japanese Communist Party official who claimed Prime Minister Kan was reconsidering plans to build 14 new nuclear power plants by 2030. The death toll from the quake and tsunami stands at 11,417, with another 16,273 people still missing.
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Tunisia and France Sign Renewable Energy Agreement
March 28 2011 – AfricanManager.ComTunisia and France signed an agreement in Tunis on Thursday governing joint development of renewable energy technology and the consumption of renewable energy.  The document, signed by Tunisian Minister of Industry and Technology Abdelaziz Rassaa and French Minister of Economy, Finance, and Industry, Eric Besson, seeks to establish an institutional basis for renewable energy projects such as building solar energy infrastructure in Tunisia.The agreement emphasizes research and development accompanied by ‘promoting opportunities in the financial management sector.’
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Europe’s Rift Over Energy Is Widened by France
21 March 2011 – The New York Times - James Kanter
The French energy minister on Tuesday strongly defended the use of nuclear energy, highlighting a widening rift in Europe over the future of the technology since the crisis at reactors in Japan. The energy minister, Éric Besson, said it was his “profound conviction that nuclear energy will stay in Europe and the world one of the core energies in the 21st century.” He was speaking in Brussels after a meeting of European Union energy ministers to discuss the safety of the 143 reactors across the Union’s 27 member states.  The ministers agreed that safety checks would remain voluntary, but did not agree on how to structure tests for reactors of such varied designs and in such different locations. They said that the stress tests would be discussed at a meeting of E.U. heads of government this week and that the tests should be done before year’s end.
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Merkel pushes for ‘measured exit’ from nuclear energy
18 March 2011 – BBC News
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German Parliament that it was impossible to return to ‘business as usual’ following the ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan, defending the temporary closure of seven of Germany’s oldest nuclear reactors. Although Chancellor Merkel emphasized that Germany’s nuclear plants were among the world’s safest, she also claimed the goal was to “to reach the age of renewable energy as soon as possible". Just last year, Germany extended the lifespan of Germany’s seventeen nuclear reactors by twelve years, but suspended the plan following the crisis in Japan. Chancellor Merkel went on to say that future of Germany’s energy policy would be determined in the next three months.
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Demonstrators in Germany demand closing of nuclear plants
16 March 2011 – CNN - Frederik Pleitgen
Protests were staged in Berlin and other cities by thousands of German demonstrators urging their leaders Monday night to shut down nuclear power plants in their country, days after a powerful earthquake damaged nuclear plants in Japan and spurred fears of radiation there. On Saturday, protesters formed a 45-kilometer human chain between Stuttgart and the nuclear power plant Neckarwestheim. Police said around 60,000 people showed up for the protest, organized by various anti-nuclear organizations.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced a three-month moratorium on the extension of the operation periods for German nuclear plants.
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Europe split over nuclear safety amid Japan crisis
14 March 2011 – Reuters - Pete Harrison and Marine Hass
Austria on Monday called for European nuclear power plants to face stress tests while Britain and France urged calm as Japan scrambled on Monday to avert a meltdown at a stricken nuclear plant, days after an earthquake and tsunami. Nuclear power has been poised for a revival as Europe strives to cut climate-warming carbon emissions and gas imports, but public mistrust still runs high, with the Chernobyl accident in 1986 still strong in many Europeans' minds.  Recently, France was seeking to expand its nuclear expertise, but Austria remains strongly opposed to any further expansion in its neighborhood. In Germany, demonstrators have taken to the streets after the government extended the lifespan of Germany's 17 nuclear power stations, and the government may move to suspend the unpopular extension plan.
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Russia and EU disagree on oil regulations
24 February 2011 – Washington Post
An exchange between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, illustrated divergent outlooks over the EU’s plan to halt oil suppliers from directly managing pipelines. This policy would affect Russian oil giant Gazprom, which monopolizes the Russian oil industry. Putin likened the plans to “property confiscation,” clashing with the EU chief who claims that Europe’s new “Third Energy Package” is within WTO guidelines and is “now approved legislation.”
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US Analysts Foresee Important Azerbaijani Role in Energy Security
February 10 2011 – APA.az
In an international energy security conference held at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. yesterday, analysts representing the European Commission and the European Energy Security Initiative released the following statement: “By serving as the corridor through which eastern Caspian resources, including those of Uzbekistan, can reach world markets, Azerbaijan can contribute significantly to global energy security”.  This comment by members of the EU community echoes those made by US government officials at the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce seminar held last month regarding energy sector investment in Azerbaijan.
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EU summit attempts to find consensus on energy and innovation
4 February 2011 – BBC News
Leaders of European nations have been confronted with a startling figure at the EU summit on energy and innovation today: EU countries will have to spend over $1.4 trillion over the next ten years on energy innovation if the goal of creating a unified European energy market is to be fulfilled, says a European Commission estimate. The main focus of the debate centers on the means of funding the energy projects, as some member-states advocate the private sector taking the lead role while others advocate for the EU to be the main donor. The summit in Brussels will also focus on the unfolding crisis in Egypt and the overall state of eurozone economies, as reports of augmented lender confidence as a result of lowered interest rates on Spain’s and Portugal’s  debt have sparked optimism.
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EU Repudiates Carbon Credits
January 24 2011 – RAC
The European Parliament prohibited the use of HFC-23 and N20 carbon credits in a vote on Monday.  Carbon credits offer an economic incentive for firms to reduce their carbon emissions.  According to Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s climate action commissioner, the carbon credit ban will encourage individual states to adopt cheaper and more direct policies to reduce carbon emissions.  Because of resistance to the ban in Spain and Italy, it will be delayed until May 2013 and will run to 2020.
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Is Chernobyl safe for life again?
January 21 2011 – CNN NEWS
Environmental scientists have engaged in heated discussion concerning the present state of the Chernobyl area. Scientists have been studying the area for the past 20 years to monitor biodiversity and changes in the environment which were affected by the 1986 nuclear meltdown crisis. The debate rides on the heels of the recent decision by Ukraine's government to sanction official tours to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, coupled with the upcoming landmark anniversary, will mean that more tourists will probably visit than ever before.
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