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Top 4 stories

1) Fracking: Refused by Lancashire, banned by New York (and firms want the rules changed)

Lancashire County Council yesterday delivered a surprise decision on a Cuadrilla application to frack near Little Plumpton on the Flyde: It said ‘no’.

The 10-4 decision, which went again planning officials’ recommendation, follows the council’s verdict last week to block fracking at the nearby Roseacre Wood site.

Damian Carrington at The Guardian says the prospects for UK shale gas ‘have never looked bleaker’ and that were Westminster to overturn the decision – given their empowering local authorities on wind – it would stink of hypocrisy.

The Telegraph, seemingly dismayed by the verdict, published an editorial this morning effectively saying that the government should do just (‘it may well require Central Government intervention’).

According to The Times, fracking firms are calling for a change in the law that would limit the powers of local authorities to block applications. The report says that Cuadrilla are likely to succeed in their appeal, and the Lancashire County Council will be forced to pay the company’s six-figure legal fees.

But fracking’s bad day didn’t end there. On the other side of the Atlantic, New York State became the first with significant shale reserves to officially ban the controversial extraction technique, reports Bloomberg.

2) US: Obama’s power plant mercury rule blocked by Supreme Court (but experts say it doesn’t matter)

After a series of politically progressive rulings, the US Supreme Court sided with coal over a clutch of air pollution regulations proposed by President Obama, reports the New York Times.

US coal stocks jumped upon the news that the country’s highest court had blocked the mercury emissions rule because it would have been too costly for coal.Reuters has done a handy Q&A to understand exactly what happened.

A great many energy experts, however, say the decision means very little. David Roberts at Vox says it’s basically pointless, that it sets no precedent and that coal plants have already largely complied with the ‘excessively-expensive’ mercury rule.

Politico says the EPA shouldn’t have too much difficulty demonstrating its cost-benefit analysis, and called our the Court – and a very angry Antonin Scalia in particular – for an empty gesture after a week of high-profile conservative defeats.

And Bloomberg View says the Supreme Court ‘can’t save coal’, with a recent Platts analysis saying the US coal sector has been hit even worse this year than previously expected.

The Supreme Court also rejected appeals by BP and Andarko Petroleum to avoid penalties for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, reports Reuters.

3) China: UN climate pledge will finally arrive today (and it may be stronger than expected)

After a series of almost-but-not-quite declarations, China will deliver its UN climate target today. At a press conference following signing a joint statement with the EU to tackle climate change together, Premier Li said China’s long-awaited climate pledge would be made ‘by the end of the month’ – which means today.

At the press conference, EU leaders Tusk and Juncker urged China to make a strong climate commitment, and it might actually be that China will try for a unexpectedly ambitious target. There have been murmurs, covered here by Politico, that China will say it intends to peak carbon emissions earlier than the 2030 date set in the US-China joint statement late last year.

Meanwhile UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon says climate negotiations ahead of the Paris COP are going way too slow, reports the Guardian.

4. UK: Reports slams lack of UK climate policy (and says 2014 emissions cut was one-off)

In its annual report the Committee on Climate Change said that the UK emissions reductions in 2014 was an aberration – a cocktail of circumstance and finally delivering on goals – and it will not continue as such.

According to a Carbon Brief analysis, there is a startling lack of policies to deliver future emissions cuts.

Meanwhile, the union GMB says that the government using Chinese companies to build its new nuclear projects is a ‘total betrayal’ of UK workers, reports Energy Voice.

Other news:

India: A new $20billion joint venture firm has eyes on kickstarting clean energy revolution, reports CNBC.

Australia: China slowing gas demand could hurt regional LNG exporters, according to Bloomberg.

Solar Impulse: Solar-powered plane starts hardest leg of round-the-world journey:The Pacific.