Credit: Iain Thompson

Top 3 stories

1) UK: Coal concessions, falling emissions and mixed-up energy policy

The government will provide around £30 million to workers at two of Britain’s closing coal mines, according to Sky News.

Months after rejecting trade union pleas for hundreds of millions in state-aid to keep the mines open, the Government will likely propose the coal concessionary payments today as amendments to the Small Business Bill.

A Carbon Brief analysis has revealed that UK carbon emissions fell by 9% last year because of decreased coal use and record warm temperatures.

Despite this, a new report from MPs have slammed the government’s use of capacity market auctions instead of demand-side management and other pioneering electricity infrastructure measures, writes Business Green.

Business Green also reports that the Lib Dems have pledged to put energy efficiency investment  “on the front page” of its election manifesto.

Meanwhile, Sir David King – formerly the country’s chief scientist – hailed the rapid development of green energy technology, and said it should be as important as climate change mitigation at the big UN summit at the year’s end, the Guardian reports.

2) Russia: Energy sector on the rise?

Late last year you would have heard that Russia was one of the major victims of the cratering oil price, but the country’s energy sector is reportedly making a comeback.

According to CNBC, Russian energy sector returns are 22% better off now than they were a year ago, when the Ukraine crisis was at its peak.

Russia’s long-running gas dispute with Ukraine took another turn this week, with Energy Minister Alexander Novak appearing to offer a discount so long as Kiev supplies the rebel-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine, reports the Daily Mail via Reuters.

And the Associated Press says the details of the Russian-backed expansion of Hungary’s only nuclear power plant will remain a secret for 30 years.

3) Nuclear: French energy bill ‘watered down’ as China approves first plants since Fukushima

The French government’s move to cut nuclear capacity appears to be collapsing, with a parliamentary proposal threatening President Hollande’s attempts to close the country’s oldest nuclear facility, reports Reuters.

Also from Reuters, France state-controller nuclear group Areva will double down on its partnership with EDF and explore a closer relations with Chinese utilities.

And China is back into nuclear, approving two new plants after a four-year hiatus in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, reports Bloomberg.

Finally, Saudi Arabia and South Korea have signed a nuclear agreement, two years after the Arab state announced it would invest $100 billion in 17 nuclear projects,reports the Global Times.

In other news

China: As it figures out who will represent it at the Paris COP later this year, China may introduce tougher coal and carbon dioxide caps for its next five year plan.

India: The second phase of the country’s coal block auctions kicks off today, with expected bidding from steel giants.

People: BP chief executive Bob Dudley received a 25% increase in pay last year (mostly bonuses) despite falling profits and lay-offs, as disgraced scientist Willie Soon hit out at green groups for exposing the fossil fuel funding of his findings.

Poland: And Warsaw will boldly push the EU to loosen coal subsidy rules in a bid to save the crisis-stricken industry. Read all about what’s happening there here.