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US EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s commitment to maintaining the landmark 2009 endangerment finding has been thrown into doubt following his disavowal of the link between CO2 and climate change.
Canada’s Nova Scotia has released design options for its proposed cap-and-trade programme, with the premier saying he was in talks with other Atlantic provinces about forming a regional market.
China’s financial centre Shanghai, eager to keep its local emissions trading scheme alive beyond this year, has vowed to peak its CO2 output around 2025 and eventually decarbonise its industry by investing in green technologies, the municipal government said.
South Korean CO2 allowances continue to drift lower amid cooling demand and on Thursday traded at a nearly 4% discount to offsets, which baffled some market participants.
EU carbon continued its downward path on Thursday to mark four straight days of losses, leaving prices near a €5 level despite strong auction demand signals.
Utility Uniper has hedged more than 80% of its expected German lignite and hydro generation through 2019 despite falling power prices, it said on Thursday in annual results that included a €3.2 billion net loss.
**Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) 2017: San Francisco, Apr. 19-21 – NACW brings together the most active and influential players in North American climate policy and carbon markets to address the most pressing topics in domestic and international policy, subnational leadership, carbon markets, climate finance, and carbon management initiatives. Visit the website**
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Costly chaos – The energy and climate debate in Australia rages on. The Australian Energy Council, representing 21 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses, on Thursday said the political uncertainty surrounding the energy sector is to blame for recent lack of investment which has caused a spike in electricity prices effectively equivalent to having a carbon price of over A$50 per tonne of CO2. “The energy industry urgently needs investment grade national energy and climate policy that will enable new capacity to be built, as well as access to new gas to run it,” it said.
Shell’s ‘sands sale – Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to sell most of its Canadian oil sands assets for $8.5 billion, Reuters reports, the latest international oil major to withdraw from the costly, CO2-intensive projects. Shell is trying to sell assets totalling $30 billion to cut debt following its $54 billion acquisition of BG Group and is under investor pressure to mitigate climate change risks. Shell also said that 10% of directors’ bonuses will now be tied to how well it manages greenhouse gas emissions in refining, chemical and upstream.
Cheap as (coal) chips – “If you have a sufficiently large site with the right wind speeds, then I do believe you can build offshore wind at least at the same price as new build coal in many places around the world including the US,” said Henrik Poulsen, CEO of Denmark’s Dong Energy. Read more from Bloomberg on how these multi-billion-dollar mega wind projects make increasing economic sense, even compared to new coal and nuclear power.
Left alone – Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) are unlikely to call for a national carbon tax in addition to the EU ETS if they are returned to government after September’s general election, said senior party official Hubertus Heil, diminishing the likelihood of a majority for such a measure that many view as necessary for the country to meet its 2030 domestic goal to cut emissions 55% under 1990 levels. (Montel)
Heathrow zero – Although we’re passionate about the environment, we weren’t previously punching our weight, admitted Heathrow Airport’s Executive Director Expansion Emma Gilthorpe at the unveiling last week of Heathrow 2.0, a self-styled bold and ambitious long-term sustainability strategy for the airport. The UK government has signalled its support for major expansion and a third runway but there are still considerable challenges for the airport, not least over environmental and climate change concerns. Goals set out in the plan include becoming carbon neutral by 2020 and a zero emissions airport by 2050; all flights serving the airport by the time of the new runway opening in the middle of the next decade to be subject to the global CORSIA carbon-neutral growth scheme; and creating a Centre of Excellence for aviation sustainability research and innovation. Read more from GreenAir Online.
Forget the kids – The Trump Administration is seeking a fast-track appeal against a climate change lawsuit brought by 21 young people, Climate Home reports. Jeffrey Wood, a temporary Trump appointee at the Justice Department and recently a fossil fuel lobbyist, called on the federal court in Oregon to send the case to appeal before evidence was submitted and a ruling made in the initial trial. Wood said the move would “avoid litigation that is unprecedented in its scope and in its potential to be protracted, expensive, and disruptive to the continuing operation of the United States Government”.
To tax or to trade? That is the question – The small Canadian province of Prince Edward Island has not yet decided which carbon pricing mechanism to pursue. PEI is taking part in regional discussions on setting up a cap-and-trade system, even though documents obtained by CBC News through a Freedom of Information request show the province’s climate change secretariat has identified a carbon tax as “the most appropriate mechanism” for PEI.
Cancelled – Spanish renewable energy company Acciona has voluntarily cancelled a further 217,000 CERs from a Mexican wind project to cover the firm’s 2016 emissions, adding to the 313,000 credits cancelled on Wednesday. Meanwhile, online exchange operator CBL Markets cancelled almost 95,000 CERs from a Honduran biogas facility on behalf of its clients to offset their 2015 emissions.
And finally… New York real estate meets cli-fi – Science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s 18th novel, due out on Mar. 14, bases its plot on something more typically down-to-earth: New York real estate. In New York 2140, unstoppable glacial melt has caused a 50-foot rise in global sea levels, flooding the city. Everything below Midtown has become a tidal zone where menacing green waters flow around the ground floors of skyscrapers. Wall Streeters commute to work by boat; the super rich live on high ground, above 125th Street; and speculators have started moving in on downtown, an underwater Bohemia where artists and middle-class strivers struggle to get by. A winter freeze locks the city in ice. And, spoiler alert, billions of gallons of standing water don’t help with the smell in summer. (BloombergBusinessweek)
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