Top 3 stories
1) Gazprom: Europe accuses Russian energy giant of abusing dominant position
In a move that will turn down the temperature on already frosty relations between Europe and Moscow, the European Commission (EC) has charged Gazprom with abusing its dominant market position in Central and Eastern Europe.
The Commission said the Russian gas giant may have charged EU member state unfair gas prices by limiting its customer’s ability to resell gas and suggested that, in its preliminary view, Gazprom was breaking EU anti-trust rules.
Gazprom, perhaps best known to Brits for its costly promotion of football’s Champions League, hit back at the Commission’s findings by insisting that the company “strictly adheres to all forms of international law.”
Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was quick to make his feelings clear about the findings by calling the Commission’s work “absolutely unacceptable”.
For its part the EC insisted there was nothing political about the move, and that it merely reflected Europe’s tough stance on large multinationals abusing their position; as recently with its handling of Google.
2) US: Questions for Hilary over uranium deal
Still on Russia and the New York Times leads today with an intriguing story that could have a significant impact on Hilary Clinton’s presidential bid.
The paper describes the process Russia’s atomic energy agency Rosatom came to control uranium mines across Central Asia and in the American West which had previously been run by a Canadian mining company known as Uranium One.
Based on analysis of Canadian financial records and interviews with key players, the New York Times report sets out how a Russian company came to control one-fifth of America’s uranium supplies while money flowed into the Clinton Foundation.
The deal to sell off Uranium One to the Russian’s was signed off by the State Department at the time Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, though a spokesman for the likely Democrat party nominee insisted that donors to the Clinton Foundation never influenced the Clinton’s work when she was in the Obama administration.
Uranium mines, Russia, donations to a foundation: this story could be the scandal Republican candidates have been waiting for. They will surely make the most of it.
3) US part II: Obama takes climate fight to Florida
Assuming she rides out the New York Times story, Clinton will be looking to continue President Obama’s increasingly robust stance on climate change.
On Earth Day, the President was in Florida to talk up the dangers of climate and state that it posed a significant risk to the state’s economy.
Standing with the south Florida Everglades behind him, Obama warned: “we do not have time to deny the effects of climate change.”
Noting his carefully selected location, the President stated that rising sea levels threatened the very existence of the delicate ecosystem of Florida’s national park.
With large swathes of the Republican Party still denying the existence of global warming, it’s remains unclear how big a part climate change will play in the 2016 election.
4) Australia: Abbot’s funding for controversial Danish academic raises eyebrows
Finally, in Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbot continues with his bid to become the bete noire of environmentalists the world over.
The former head of the county’s Climate Commission, which was disbanded by Abbot’s government in 2013, called on the Prime Minister to publicly explain the decision to fund a controversial new climate institute.
Last week, education minister Christopher Pyne announced that it would spend A$4m over four years on a new institute led by a controversial Danish academic.
Bjorn Lomborg does not go against the consensus that climate change is man-made, but argues that states should not intervene to mitigate its affects.
The Conservative government’s announcement has raised eyebrows after it decided to scrap the commission ostensibly to save A$1.6m a year, only slightly more than the amount being pumped into Lomborg’s new institute based at the University of Western Australia.
Tim Flannery, the former head of the Climate Commission told Reuters that the Australian people needed answers.
“We, as the Climate Commission, were abolished by the federal government with their very first act in coming to power. And the reason that was given to the Australian public and to ourselves was that they lacked the funding,” he said.
“Now, 18 months later or so, magically the funding’s been found to bring someone from Denmark to Australia to set up a centre. The Australian public are owed an explanation.”
In other news
Asia: The Philippines climate commissioner will lead a “pilgrimage” to parts of the world hit hard by climate change, after gaining attention for his emotional pleas for action on global warming at the UN.