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Australia: Coal takes centre stage as election looms

The Australian general election is just over a month away, and with the polls showing a near tie between the incumbent Coalition government and Labor, a debate about the country’s energy policy has hit the headlines.

After a Labor candidate compared the government’s defence of coal mining to “heroin poppy cultivation”, resources minister Josh Fydenberg called on the party to clarify its energy policy. The Labor government in Queensland sparked international condemnation recently when it approved the controversial Adani coalmine.

Malcolm Turnbull’s party’s energy policies are not exactly green. In fact, the Australian Conservation Foundation gave the Coalition a score of 11 out of 100 on its environment scorecard. Labor got 53.

Turnbull might find his party’s rhetoric out of step with those of the voters. Polling from the Australia Institute found that 71% of Australian’s favoured a switch to 100% renewables. Respondents were particularly impressed by new battery storage technology.

Meanwhile, the FT reports that mining companies, mindful of public opinion, are taking steps to improve the appearance of old coal mines in the country.

Peter Erskine, research fellow at the University of Queensland tells the paper:
“There has been a societal shift in expectations towards mine rehabilitation, with more communities and governments pushing for miners to properly close operations and leave an enduring positive legacy.”

Nigeria: Country veers towards crisis with sluggish economy and Delta unrest

Nigeria is in the midst of an economic crisis, with growing violence in the country’s oil rich southern region hitting its oil export numbers hard.

The West African country is dependent on oil for 90% of its currency earnings, and renewed militarism in the Niger Delta has hit exports in a big way. Some western oil companies have even moved to evacuate staff from the region, out of fear of attacks by armed groups.

Combined with this, critics of President Buhari have blamed his government’s poor handling of the economy for the current problems.

Maggie Fick reports for the Financial Times on a bleak economic picture for Africa’s most populous nation.

UK: Anger over nuclear waste arrangement secrecy is latest Hinkley setback

Groundwork is underway to build Britain’s new nuclear power station, but there must be doubts about the “world’s most expensive object”TM will ever be finished.

The latest row over Hinkley Point C concerns the nuclear waste from the site.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has denied requests sent using the Freedom of Information Act to disclose arrangements with EDF for dealing with nuclear waste at the site.

The Guardian report that the FoI complainant David Lowry has asked for state aid arrangements between the UK and European Commission to be made public.

Environmental groups, including Greenpeace, say the argument is at the heart of whether the deal for the new station represents good value for the taxpayer.

In other news

China: Economic slowdown hits neighbours hardest

Congo: Construction of world’s largest dam could start in months

EU: Juncker to visit Russia, reopening sanctions debate

G7: Pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025

Noble Group: CEO quits suddenly

Opec: Cheap oil lures drivers back into gas guzzlers

UK: Call for shared boilers to heat homes in Scottish cities