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Obama moves to axe Arctic drilling, while Clinton backpedals on coal

Barack Obama’s administration will move to freeze oil drilling in the Arctic and much of the Atlantic until 2022.

As Suzanne Goldberg points out in the Guardian, the decision represents a reversal of his policy from just 12 months ago, and is a major sign of the President’s desire to position himself as a climate champion in the last months of his term.

The five year plan will be formally announced by the Interior Department in the coming days, and follows successful talks between the President and the new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, when both men agreed that oil and gas exploration in the Arctic must meet “science-based standards”.

Major oil companies have long pushed to be able to drill in the Arctic, but have been met with a fierce response from climate activists. Shell was forced to abandon plans to drill off the coast of Alaska last year following an intense campaign against them by Greenpeace and other groups.

The news comes as the battle to succeed President Obama enters its most crucial week, with key states including Florida and Ohio voting today.

The New York Times reports that the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, was forced to backpedal on a portion of her energy policy.

After stating that she wanted “to put coal companies out of business” on a Sunday talkshow, Clinton changed her tune slightly after severe backlash from the GOP in Kentucky.

“Coal will remain a part of the energy mix for years to come,” she said. “And we have a shared responsibility to ensure that coal communities receive the benefits they have earned and can build the future they deserve.”

Meanwhile, even those Republicans that acknowledge that climate change is happening don’t want to do anything about it. In a debate held last week, self-styled moderate John Kasich said that we should tackle the issue, but insisted we don’t know how much humans cause it.

UK moves to make Paris agreement legally binding

The UK will enshrine into law the agreement signed at the UN conference in Paris to reduce carbon emissions to zero, energy minister Andrea Leadsom has announced.

The move follows pressure from former Labour leader Ed Miliband to make the climate agreement legally binding.

The Guardian report that Miliband has looked to rehabilitate his career by focusing on energy and climate change, the brief he held as a minister in the last Labour goverment.

The 100% cut in emissions demanded by the agreement would represent a significant increase on the UK’s current ambitions. The government has already agreed to reduce emissions 80% by 2050, under the terms of the Climate Change Act.

Leadsom told MPs on Monday: “The government believes that we will need to take the step of enshrining the Paris goal for net zero emissions in UK law. The question is not whether but how we do it.”

The news comes as a committee advising the Scottish government urged it to accelerate action to tackle climate change.

In other news

China: Labour protests rock elites as coal job cuts begin to sting

China: Renewables demand could spark solar boom

Climate change: Environmental factors increase disease and air pollution, killing millions – according to WHO study

EU: Migrant crisis forces climate change off the top of summit agenda

India: Solar tender opens market to the likes of Tesla

Oil: Crude price drops below $40, after Iran announces output increase

UK: Osborne’s energy plans under scrutiny as he gears up for the budget

UK: Small energy firms top complaints list

VW: Whistleblower lawsuit accuses company of deleting data after US regulators unearthed emissions scandal