🌍 Europe strikes energy deals

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is welcomed by Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bayramov.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is welcomed by Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Bayramov.
Image: Tofik Babayev/AFP via Getty Images

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The EU signed a natural gas deal with Azerbaijan… The move comes amid a 60% drop in natural gas supply and anticipation of a full Russian cutoff. Russia’s Gazprom has claimed it can’t ensure supply to European buyers due to “extraordinary” circumstances.

…and France and the UAE also shook hands on energy. Their agreement will secure France’s access to oil and natural gas as it seeks to wean off reliance on Russia.

Apple will cut back hiring and spending. The changes, which will only affect some teams, are in anticipation of a possible economic downturn next year, Bloomberg reported.

Tom Tugendhat was eliminated from the Tory leadership contest. After the third round of voting, four contestants remain. Rishi Sunak remains the frontrunner.

Sri Lankan acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe declared a state of emergency. Protesters are demanding his resignation just a day before the next presidential election.

Shanghai and Tianjin were ordered to conduct mass covid testing. The response to new cases in two of China’s key port cities has renewed fears of a return to lockdown.

The UK’s antitrust regulator is reviewing Meta’s purchase of Giphy. The tech giant was previously told it would have to undo its $315 million acquisition of the GIF database.

The South Korean government called for an end to the Daewoo shipyard strike. The month-long action at one of the largest shipyards in the world has halted crude oil carrier production.

What to watch for

Russian president Vladimir Putin is meeting his Iranian and Turkish counterparts in Tehran today, his second foreign trip since the invasion of Ukraine. Aside from the war in Europe, discussion will cover the ongoing Syrian conflict. Also likely on the agenda: supply chain issues.

Turkey is one of the countries most vulnerable to the supply shortages resulting from the war in Ukraine.  Located on the southern side of the Black Sea, Turkey relies on Russia and Ukraine for more than 80% of its wheat imports and is a key trade passage connecting Europe’s breadbasket to Africa and the Middle East.

Last week, Ankara announced it had reached a deal with Russia, Ukraine, and the UN to establish a safe corridor for grain shipments. Remaining issues in the deal will likely be smoothed out during the summit, and if finalized, could relieve pressure amid a global food crisis.

Europe isn’t ready for its heat wave

The record-breaking temperatures hitting Europe today couldn’t have come at a worse time. The continent has faced rising energy prices and insecurity since the invasion of Ukraine, with Russia’s shuttering of natural gas the latest incident in an ongoing crisis.

A line graph showing electricity prices in Europe from April 2020 through April 2022. They've steadily increased, with a big spike after Russia invaded Ukraine.

High energy prices can be life threatening, especially for those who can’t afford heating and cooling for their homes. Nearly 3,000 (pdf) people are killed by heat-related illness in Europe annually, a figure that officials project could increase 10-fold by 2050 as a result of climate change.

And Europe isn’t yet able to sustain itself on alternative energy alone. Coal prices are surging, and many nuclear plants are running below capacity or being closed. Countries are hastily building solar and wind, but have been hampered by rising equipment costs and supply chain delays. To meet the energy demands, the EU is turning to the Middle East for supply.

What’s fueling Sri Lanka’s economic crisis?

It’s not everyday that protesters break into the estate of a sitting president and take a swim in the pool. But it’s not everyday that a country such as Sri Lanka falls into an economic tailspin.

For all the focus on avoiding a recession in the US or Europe, a wide swath of emerging economies are also entering choppy waters. A combination of staggering debt, dwindling currency reserves, declining revenue, and rising prices have put Sri Lanka on a fast-track to collapse. But it’s not a unique recipe, writes Quartz editor-in-chief Zach Seward in the latest Weekend Brief, as there are signs of rough times ahead for Zambia and Lebanon, too.

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