Steel Cities in China's Hebei Province
© Lu Guang / Greenpeace

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China: New pollution law, massive smartgrid project, and more fallout from stock market crash

The big news out of China this weekend concerns its new-and-improved air pollution law. The government has empowered itself to punish authorities that fail to act on its directive, and it looks next to be preparing a coal consumption cap, Reuters reports.

The government is also planning to invest more than $300 billion in upgrading its power grid infrastructure so it can cut its coal consumption in the country’s air-polluted east, according to Reuters.

Our expert Lauri last month explained some of the major problems with China’s grid.

And it may be a new month, but the Chinese stock market remains in meltdown mode. No matter. Reuters says China’s commodity imports are actually trending upwards, if you’re look at the long-term.

The Three Gorges Corp has gone on a takeover spree of Brazilian energy infrastructure, reports China Daily.

And one last thing on Tianjin: Local governments across the country have submitted plans to relocate or upgrade almost 1,000 chemical plants following the deadly blasts, reports the Guardian.

Oil: Best days in years sees oil go from bear to bull

Last week things were looking bad for oil as the China crisis pushed prices lower and lower, but then things changed – fast.

A month of losses were reversed in just three days as crude had its best spell in years, charts Bloomberg.

The FT says the 25% bump indicates that OPEC is rethinking its kamikaze production strategy. But Barclays sees a new oil glut emerging: refined rather than crude.

UK: North Sea gas makes comeback as Big 6 utilities count on coal

The UK’s offshore gasfield in the North Sea is ramping up production again months after George Osborne introduced a myriad of tax incentives in his March budget,reports The Telegraph.

Danish energy giant Maersk has been granted approval to start digging into the Culzean field, the largest gas discovery in over a decade, and looks set to invest £3 billion in the project.

And the front page of The Independent is all about coal. It turns out that British Gas and SSE – which together provide 40% of the UK’s power market – use more coal today than they did 10 years ago.

In other news

Arctic: There’s all sorts of problems with Shell’s anti-pollution equipment, according to newly released documents via Fuel Fix.

Nuclear: Hinkley has come under fresh fire, with Dr David Lowry – member of the Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates – calling DECC’s decision not to release documents on the controversial project ‘disgraceful’ and claiming the government is putting the interests of EDF ahead of the interests of UK taxpayers, The Independent reports.

And a Reuters analysis says Japan’s return to nuclear isn’t going to work quite as planned, with around half of the proposed reactors unable to meet tougher safety standards or handle a flurry of legal challenges.

US: Barack Obama is in Alaska. He’s using some pretty strong language on climate change, saying ‘we’re not acting fast enough’ and dismissing deniers as ‘living on their own shrinking island’.

Slate thinks this trip proves the President a climate hypocrite, pointing out that he gave Shell the greenlight to drill right nearby (in the Arctic).

UN: Climate representatives are meeting in Bonn this week to refine the Paris COP draft agreement, and according to Christiana Figueres they’re short of money to cover these sessions, reports AFP.

Gas: Europe’s LNG imports are up 24% compared to this time last year, driven largely by the economic/energy slowdown in Asia, reports Politico.

And a giant gasfield find in the Mediterranean means Israel’s energy exporting plans are thoroughly complicated, reports Quartz.

Renewables: The IEA says fossil fuels are fast losing their cost advantage over solar and wind, reports Bloomberg.