Helsinki accuses Moscow of smuggling approximately 700 migrants across the border in the past two weeks, involving individuals from Yemen, Afghanistan, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria. Finland will close multiple border crossing points with Russia for a month, leaving only the northernmost one open, while deploying 50 Frontex border guard officers and additional resources. Finland’s Interior Minister, Mari Rantanen, emphasizes the need to intensify the registration process for arriving migrants, collecting essential identity information. Frontex assures that fundamental rights will be respected amid the humanitarian challenges posed by harsh weather conditions and the unpreparedness of those arriving at the Finnish border.
Ireland’s leading climatologist, John Sweeney, warns of the world heading towards “really quite catastrophic” climate change, citing the recently published UN Emissions Gap report. The report suggests that without aggressive action by world leaders, the planet could warm by 3°C above pre-industrial levels this century. Sweeney expresses concern about the diminishing ability to avoid dangerous climate change thresholds and emphasizes the urgent need for a shift in current policies. He notes Ireland’s recent climate extremes, such as absolute drought and the wettest July on record, as indicators of the escalating climate crisis. Despite Ireland’s commitments to renewable energy and net-zero goals by 2030 and 2050, respectively, Sweeney criticizes global failures in meeting climate promises, particularly by wealthy nations. He dismisses arguments that Ireland is too small to make a difference, emphasizing the moral responsibility to address emissions, stating, “It’s a morally bankrupt argument which should be consigned to the litter bin at this stage.”
The Israeli government’s month-long blockade of Gaza, involving severe cuts to water, fuel, and electricity, has raised concerns among public health experts about an imminent infectious disease outbreak. Clean water scarcity has become a significant issue, with fears of waterborne illnesses like cholera and typhoid. Despite some limited water supply resumption to parts of southern Gaza and intake from Egypt, a majority of Gaza’s water remains “unfit for human consumption,” leading to reliance on local sources. Wastewater and desalination facilities are largely inoperable due to fuel and electricity shortages, exacerbating health care challenges. Healthcare facilities are struggling without clean water, and the World Health Organization notes the near impossibility of maintaining infection prevention measures. Organizations like UNICEF and Human Rights Watch express grave concerns, urging the Israeli government to end the blockade, restore water and electricity access, and allow the entry of essential supplies into Gaza.
Europe’s natural gas demand, typically lower in autumn, is rising due to lower temperatures in most areas and anticipated freezing weather until early December. Forecasts, including for Germany, Europe’s largest gas user, indicate colder temperatures, prompting an increase in heating demand and a rise in gas prices. Front-month Dutch TTF Natural Gas Futures, Europe’s gas trading benchmark, were slightly down, but market concerns are tempered by ample inventories in EU gas storage sites, which were 98.4% full as of November 22. While gas prices began to rise last week with a focus on winter supply risks, the current confidence in the market stems from record-high inventories and consistent LNG inflows. However, analysts caution against complacency, highlighting potential volatility if fresh supply concerns arise or if the winter turns exceptionally cold in Europe and/or Asia. The unpredictability of winter weather remains a significant factor for traders, suppliers, and governments.
The British Library fell victim to a ransomware attack claimed by the recently identified criminal group, Rhysida, which subsequently posted stolen personal data for sale online. Rhysida employs a common ransomware tactic known as “double extortion,” where in addition to encrypting files, they steal data and threaten to release it unless a ransom is paid. The group, named after a centipede, demanded a starting bid of 20 bitcoins (approximately £590,000) for the stolen data. Rhysida has also targeted government institutions in Portugal, Chile, and Kuwait, with previous claims of responsibility for an attack on a US hospital group. The US government released an advisory on Rhysida, noting its emergence in various sectors since May and its operation of a “ransomware as a service” (Raas) offering. While Rhysida is a new name to the public, it is linked to a 2021 criminal operation called Gold Victor, known for the Vice Society ransomware scheme. The group’s dwell time within systems has decreased to less than 24 hours, aiding in avoiding detection. Ransom payments, discouraged by law enforcement, are on the rise, with the average payment doubling to £1.2 million over the past year, according to cybersecurity firm Sophos.
The recent meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, ahead of COP28 in Dubai, underscores the crucial role of cooperation between the world’s top economies in advancing the global energy transition. Both China and the U.S. face challenges in their clean energy narratives, with China being a major emitter but also a leader in low-carbon technologies, while the U.S. grapples with historical carbon-intensive practices. The meeting highlighted a commitment to accelerate the shift from fossil fuels to renewables, recognizing the need for collaboration to achieve net-zero goals. Despite geopolitical complexities and energy security concerns, the dialogue between Washington and Beijing signals a potential for joint efforts in driving the energy transition forward.