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Brexit: UK energy ministers speak out

As we covered yesterday, both Energy Secretary Amber Rudd and Energy Minister (and leading Brexiteer) Andrea Leadsom gave talks on the state of UK energy and climate policy.

Though they diverged on tone, and on topic, they were largely singing from the same ‘business as usual’ hymn sheet.

Apparently Hinkley is happening, the coal phaseout is still on track, renewables are still getting pummeled, and the Climate Change Act is going nowhere.

Still, as Simon Evans at Carbon Brief points out, there are still a number of outstanding questions – 94 to be precise.

Roger Harrabin at the BBC says the UK government is due to approve a new carbon budget that will see CO2 emissions cut to 57% less than 1990 levels by 2032.

Ed Miliband has called on outgoing PM David Cameron to ratify the Paris Agreement before he leaves Downing Street, concerned that climate sceptics in the Brexit ranks could undermine the deal.

It’s this uncertainty to which Norwegian energy giant Statoil refers. According to the FT, Statoil thinks geopolitical issues like the Brexit vote pose problem for international action on climate change.

And finally: Germany, long seen as a climate leader, has scrapped its 2050 coal phaseout target, Reuters reports.

China: Coal output falls by more than 8%

The Chinese government says the amount of coal being produced across the country is falling at a breakneck rate.

For the first 5 months of 2016, output was down 8.4% year on year as the country upped its coal exports doubled and it began drawing down its stockpiles (9%).

Meanwhile reports in the Chinese press have picked up on the IEA’s recent air pollution study, and lead with the line: ‘China smog knocks 2 years off life expectancy’.

And then there’s problems surrounding the country’s wind power sector, which despite massive investment, actually produces less energy than the US’ comparatively smaller industries, reports in the China press say.

That’s partly because American turbines are more efficient, and partly because the Chinese grid prioritises coal meaning plenty of wind power is wasted.

US: Gas rises as coal falls

President Obama oversaw the approval of hundreds of offshore fracking projects in the Gulf of Mexico between 2010 and 2014 without nary a mention in the mainstream US press, according to DeSmog.

This discovery fits in the narrative that, under Obama, gas natural has really thrived – with a new Bloomberg story showing how it has bumped coal off.

Which brings us to the other big energy development of the almost-over Obama administration: the fall of coal.

Grist reports that the coal port mooted for Oakland, California has been rejected by the city council.

And finally: The New York Times have profiled the North Carolina millionaire’s attempts to get the Republican party to start thinking about climate change solutions.

In other news

Oil: ExxonMobil has won the first of many battles over allegations that it covered up its climate research, with US Virgin Islands dropping its subpoena, reports ABC.

Solar: Elon Musk’s dream of a SolarCity-Tesla merger makes sense, but can it actually work? Asks the FT.

Climate: The global Paris Agreement was heralded as a huge success, but some scientists claim its lack of ambition will lead to catastrophe, reports The Independent.