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The UK should remain in the EU ETS to influence its development and for cost-effective emission cuts, but alternative options may prove more effective if the system remains moribund, experts told lawmakers in Wednesday.
EU power sector emissions fell by 4.5% or 48 million tonnes in 2016, mainly due to an ongoing switch from coal-fired generation to gas, leading to overall ETS emissions falling 2.7% or a slightly larger 49 million tonnes.
South Korean CO2 allowances hit a record high on Wednesday as emitters, unimpressed by the government’s recent allocation changes, continued to hoover up what little supply they can find.
EU carbon prices dropped below €5 on Wednesday for the first time in four sessions as falling power prices continued to sour sentiment, which was reflected in a weak auction result.
California’s Air Resources Board handed out just over 77,500 new offsets to three projects this week, marking a second straight below-average issuance by the regulator while low-risk credit numbers climbed by over 500,000.
The Cambodian government and US-based NGO Wildlife Alliance have struck a deal to develop 500,000 hectares of rainforest to generate carbon credits under the UN’s Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
1. Stay of deletion – The US EPA is temporarily suspending its plans to remove the main climate change page from the agency’s website amid reports that the page was slated to be erased on Jan. 25, InsideEPA reports ($), though the Office of General Counsel has been tasked with reviewing the implications of removing some material, according to an agency source.
2. Political review – Separately, the Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the EPA undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public, AP reports. The communications director for Donald Trump’s transition team at the EPA, Doug Ericksen, said on Wednesday the review also extends to content on the federal agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth’s climate is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame. Former EPA staffers said on Wednesday the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations. Trump is also expected to sign executive orders next week killing several Obama-era environmental regulations, according to Reuters.
3. Defunding – Donald Trump’s administration is finalising plans to reassess its support and participation in the UN, including its climate change secretariat the UNFCCC, according to the New York Times. The paper’s Interpreter columnist Max Fisher said he had viewed two draft executive orders from President Trump which outline cuts to US funding for the UN and a review of its support for multilateral treaties. The first order, named ‘Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organisations’, would terminate funding to the UNFCCC because it has granted Palestine full membership – a strategic route to previously attempted by Republicans to withhold Green Climate Fund contributions. The Bonn-based UNFCCC relies on the US for $4 million in support every year, or around a fifth of its annual budget. Speaking to the BBC World Service, Fisher said the documents do not mention the US quitting the 2015 Paris Agreement, but “if you read it, it certainly looks like they are paving the way.” (Climate Home)
Loopy Ireland – Ireland stands to be the EU’s biggest winner from “flexibilities” written into the EU Commission’s post-2020 effort sharing proposal on non-ETS goals, writes Climate Home. The article makes use of a new tool published by environmental campaigners Carbon Market Watch that maps out each member states’ potential use of provisions to meet part of the goals with ETS and land-use credits. The campaigners say these loopholes mean the non-ETS sectors only stand to cut emissions by around 23% under 2005 levels by 2030, rather than the headline 30% target.
Mass-ive renewables – Three Democratic lawmakers in Massachusetts have proposed a bill that would require the state use 100% renewable energy by 2035, but then goes further to eliminate fossil fuels from the heating and transport sectors by 2050, according to Utility Dive. The state already has more modest goals in place with the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act requiring reduce GHG emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.
Carbon tax RI-sing? – The Environment Council of Rhode Island has laid out its legislative priorities for the new General Assembly session, with the group, comprised mostly of local non-profit environmental groups, proposing that a $15/ton carbon tax be introduced on fossil fuels imports into the state and the proceeds be used to fund renewable energy. (RI NPR)
And finally… They’re still pretty on the inside – Elaborate ornaments used to signal sexual fitness in birds could start to disappear due to climate change, effectively making some species uglier. According to The Independent, a major new study of collared flycatchers on the Baltic island of Gotland, spanning more than 30 years, has discovered a “dramatic reversal” in the evolution of this trait, in a finding that suggests climate change could result in many birds becoming less attractive to each other.
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