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Top stories

1) China coal: China’s emissions at the start of this year could be 5% down on last year – new data

New analysis by our team in Beijing of official data from China shows that falling coal use means emissions could be down 5% in the first four months of this year – compared to the same period last year. That’s about the same as the total carbon dioxide emissions from the UK over the same period.

The data comes as reports from China suggested coal output in April was down more than 7% on a year earlier whilst the Wall Street Journal reports on planned reforms which could hit China’s coal sector hard. China recently ordered the closure of more than 1,000 mines.

Falling coal output in China has already had a big impact on global emissions with early data from the IEA suggesting that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.

2) Fracking: Hydraulic fracturing could unlock 135bn barrels of oil worldwide – new report

Christopher Adams in the FT reports that fracking could unlock nearly 140bn barrels of new global oil supplies, an amount equivalent to Russia’s known reserves – according to a new study by IHS.

Countries such as Iran, Russia, Mexico and China stand to gain most from exploiting techniques currently used largely in the US which have contributed towards a global glut in oil supplies and lower prices.

It suggests the focus on fracking is likely to move further from gas to it’s impact on global oil markets and emissions.

3) UK energy: Centrica signs deals with Gazprom, Statoil

Millions of UK households are to receive more gas sourced from Russian state-controlled energy group Gazprom after Centrica, owner of British Gas, agreed to buy greater volumes from the Russian group’s marketing arm – reports the FT. 

The deal by Centrica – who also have UK shale gas interests – will leave the UK far more dependent on imported gas. Gazprom’s supplies to Centrica will rise to 29.1 billion cubic metres (bcm) until 2021, compared with 2.4 bcm agreed in a three-year deal in 2012. On average of the six-year deal, Gazprom will provide roughly 9 percent of Britain’s gas needs, according to Reuters calculations.

4) UK renewables: Investment hits record – set to fall

The UK’s renewable energy industry had its best year yet for new investment, attracting £10.7bn in 2014, according to new analysis published by Business Green but the country still requires a further £50bn over the next five years if it is to meet its green energy targets.

That may prove problematic according to some campaigners who argue the Toriespledge to ban subsidies for onshore wind in the UK will hit investment and the ‘green economy’ more broadly. Let’s see how this all shakes out.

5) India energy: Modi challenges coal monopoly, travels to Mongolia in search of Uranium

The Wall Street Journal reports on Modi’s plan to double the country’s coal output whilst challenging the grip of the state monopoly. He’s also travelling to Mongolia, not just to wind up the Chinese, but in search of Uranium for his nuclear power plants – reports Quartz.

6) Germany coal: RWE warns of consequences to climate move

There is an increasingly bitter fight going on in Germany over moves to complement measures to boost renewable generation with steps to cut coal use. Energy giant RWE has warned of “drastic” consequences for the energy group if plans by the German government to increase emissions charges for older coal-fired power stations go ahead, according to the FT.

The group has already seen profits fall sharply due to a “persistant drop” in the margins for conventional generation due – in large part – to the large amount of renewable energy on the system. The firm warned that if new carbon rules were enforced to meet Germany’s targets it would “have to shut down two out of our three lignite mines and 17 out of our 20 lignite-fired power stations.”

Thousands of coal miners and workers in power plants marched against the plans in Berlin last month, warning of job losses.

7) Comment & analysis: Where next for the environmental movement in the UK

Ruth Davis and Nick Mabey outline a ‘story of hope and responsibility’ for environmentalism in the UK arguing that environmentalists should adopt a more local, decentralised approach tying into British traditions of conservation and ensuring the benefits of the green economy are evenly spread whilst Tom Burke argues the green message must appeal to people’s aspirations, not just fears.

In other news

Oil: BP hires ex spook

Solar: Slumps back in Brazil

UK energy: How  DECC spends it’s soon to be cut budget

Climate: Shipping industry shelves targets