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China: Coal imports fall, and so does pollution

The downward trend of coal in China continues. The government today announced that imports fell by a pretty big 17.7% last month, and it looks like the yuan devaluation means they’ll fall further still, reports Reuters.

Also in the latest Chinese data dump are some interesting emissions figures: There’s been considerably less coal-fired pollution. Since last year, sulphur dioxide emissions fell 4.6%, nitrogen oxide emissions fell 8.8%, and a number of other pollution levels improved.

Oil wars: Russian firms flourish, and announce end of Opec ‘golden age’ (but Arctic is still elusive)

As Saudi Arabia’s oil economy struggles in the era of $50-a-barrel, it’s looking to actually develop a solar sector, reports the FT, with one of its major investor arms looking to back patent-rich PV start-up Solexel.

This transition is pretty important for the Saudis because the Russians appear unwilling to work with them on managing the global price of the black stuff. The FT reports that Rosneft CEO Igor Schein declared the end of the ‘golden age’ of Opec.

And it just so happens that Russian firms are faring better than not only the Opec nations, but also US and European drillers, according to an analysis by Bloomberg. Rosneft and Lukoil, the country’s two biggest producers, are out-performing Shell, BP and Exxon.

But, as explained in this excellent piece by the New York Times, the holy grail of Arctic oil is proving much more difficult.

Meanwhile, UK ministers are studying the deal between Gazprom and BASF for assets in the North Sea oil area, reports the Telegraph.

Renewables: Costs keep falling but low oil price looms

A new report, covered here by Cleantechnica, claims that solar will be cheaper than European wholesale electricity prices by 2030 even without tech breakthroughs.

And another study, by the New Climate Economy by way of Business Green, says low-emission buses, rooftop solar, energy effiencient buildings and just general green infrastructure could leave the world $17 trillion better off (as well as cleaner).

Despite all those good economic indications, renewables are vulnerable in the short-term as consistently low fossil fuel prices could drive governments (like UK) to scrap good green policies, writes the FT.

Climate change: Hollande warns Paris deal is in jeopardy

Pacific islands threatened by rising sea levels have issued a plea for a strong deal at the Paris climate conference at the end of the year, saying it is their ‘last chance’ for survival, reports The Independent.

And French President Hollande says that the deal is at risk of failure over ‘financing commitments’, reports the Guardian.

In other news

Poland: The Polish government has proposed moving money from its gas, utility and insurance assets to its troubled coal miner Kompania Weglowa, reports Reuters.

Earlier this year Energydesk covered the financial woes of Poland’s coal sector.

Australia: Bookmaker takes bets on which beaches will be first to ‘disappear’, reports The Telegraph.

M&A: The EU is set to approve General Electric’s $17 billion takeover of French power company Alstom, reports WSJ.

Longread: The year humans finally got serious about climate change, by New York Magazine.