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US EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt surprised fellow environment ministers at a G7 summit in Bologna, Italy on Sunday by leaving just hours after arriving in order to return to the US for a pre-scheduled cabinet meeting.
UK’s Clark holds on to climate brief in cabinet reshuffle, as Gove makes shock return as environment secretary
Greg Clark has held on to the UK’s climate change ministerial brief amid a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday, while ex-education and justice minister Michael Gove, who has a questionable track record on climate change, was put in charge of environmental affairs in a surprise appointment.
The surplus of free carbon allowances awarded to Europe’s three largest steel companies grew year-on-year in 2016, according to a report published on Monday.
European carbon fell below €5 on Monday in a session of two halves, with prices climbing in the morning and slipping back in the afternoon.
South Korean CO2 permits fell to their lowest levels since January amid moderate demand and despite this likely being the last day of significant supply coming to market before the June 30 compliance deadline.
The Hubei government on Monday tightened offset eligibility in the provincial emissions trading scheme to include only credits generated in the province’s 25 poorest counties.
The Shanghai carbon exchange will auction 2 million carbon allowances on June 30, the final compliance day for 2016, the municipal government said Monday.
We’re excited to release the draft programme for this year’s Carbon Forward 2017 conference and training day.
Job listings this week:
Director, Energiaklub Climate Policy Research Institute – Budapest
Principal Climate Resilience Consultant, Amec Foster Wheeler – Munich
Technical Director/Associate Director, Resilience Engineering, Amec Foster Wheeler – Various UK locations
Communications Director, Climate Central – Princeton, New Jersey
Or click here to see all our job adverts
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
EU-China front – China’s anger at the EU’s refusal to recognise it as a “market economy” is threatening efforts to present a united front on climate change, the FT reports ($). It detailed that at a China-EU summit in Brussels this month, the Chinese side scuppered the release of an anticipated joint statement on climate after EU officials declined to back China’s push to be labelled a market economy within the WTO, a status that would make it harder for other countries to take punitive action against Beijing’s trade practices. China’s foreign ministry said only that “work on the statement was not completed” when asked whether it was withheld because of market economy negotiations. In fact, the statement had been shared with media including the FT well before the summit began.
Repeal by replacement – President’s Trump’s replacement for the Clean Power Plan is now being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, a necessary step before it can be released for public comment. The Hill reports that the Trump administration has not formally said exactly what it is proposing to change, though it is expected to seek a full repeal of the CPP. OMB typically takes about two months to review a rule, but can take additional time. Trump promised on the campaign trail to repeal the rule and EPA head Scott Pruitt opposes it, but the rulemaking process keeps all of the details hidden until release. Pruitt said last month that it is “yet to be determined” whether the EPA will seek to replace the Clean Power Plan with another climate regulation.
It’s all Obama’s fault – US EPA chief Scott Pruitt blamed former President Barack Obama for forging a bad Paris climate deal, leaving the U.S. with the job of extricating itself, the German environment minister said. According to Bloomberg, Barbara Hendricks said that in in a catalog of complaints, Pruitt blasted Obama for failing to sign off with Congress for $3 billion in financing for the international Green Climate Fund. Pruitt said “bluntly” that the Paris Agreement is not in US interests, she added.
Heating up – ExxonMobil asked a New York court Friday to reject Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s latest subpoena request in an attempt to push back against allegations it misled investors on climate risk. In the filing, the company called Schneiderman’s latest allegations “inflammatory, reckless, and false” and his 1.5-year investigation of Exxon’s business practices a “political witch hunt.” Schneiderman’s office, which denied Exxon’s allegations of “political motivation,” told the court last week it had evidence that Exxon used two sets of figures – one internally, and one externally with investors – to calculate climate risk. In addition to outside scrutiny, Exxon is also facing pressure on climate from its boardroom: asset manager BlackRock, Exxon’s third largest investor, urged the oil giant Friday to “enhance its disclosures” on climate, following a shareholder vote earlier this month to require Exxon to include more detailed assessments of how climate policies impact its bottom line. (Climate Nexus)
French nukes – French environment and energy minister Nicolas Hulot on Monday said that the government plans to close some of EDF’s reactors to begin to wean the country off nuclear, Reuters reports. Hulot gave no indication on timing, but France is aiming to reduce the share of nuclear in its power generation to half from the current 75%. And when asked about the possibility of introducing a carbon tax, Hulot said “France already has a carbon tax which we increase every year. At an EU level we want to increase the threshold.”
Magic pudding – Last week’s Finkel report, which recommended Australia set up a Clean Energy Target – perhaps the closest the country might be able to come to establish a carbon price – sounds like a “magic pudding”, former PM and still influential MP Tony Abbott said Monday. Any policy that favours some technologies is equal to a tax on coal, and “that is the last thing we want”, he said, sparking further concerns that the idea might be shot down before the major parties even get around to start discussing the model. The proposal is seen as the first real chance for Australia to agree on a mechanism for climate policy after more than a decade of ‘climate wars’. (Guardian)
Germa-fornia – Germany is teaming up with California to cooperate on tackling climate change following the U.S. government’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement, Reuters reports. Europe’s largest economy and the biggest U.S. state in economic terms will back the work of the “Under 2 Coalition,” which includes cities, regional governments and states, German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said on Saturday.
And finally… Drastic, extraordinary, and offensive – The US federal government has invoked a rarely used legal tool to try and quash a climate lawsuit brought by 21 young people, Climate Home reports. After district court judge Ann Aiken last week stood by her decision that the youth lawsuit deserved a hearing, the Trump administration went over her head to the 9th circuit court of appeals on Friday to get the case dismissed. The district court committed “multiple and clear errors of law,” according to the government petition. It called for immediate relief from the “staggering burden” of information demanded by the plaintiffs to inform proceedings. Using its “mandamus [superior] powers”, the circuit court should overrule Aiken and “end this clearly improper attempt to have the judiciary decide important questions of energy and environmental policy to the exclusion of the elected branches of government,” the defendants argued. Our Children’s Trust, an NGO working on behalf of the youth plaintiffs, countered that the judiciary has equal right to the executive to weigh in on any policy area. A 2004 Supreme Court ruling described mandamus as a “drastic and extraordinary remedy” to be used in “only exceptional circumstances”. “For the Trump Justice Department to even seek a writ of mandamus in the current context is offensive to Judge Aiken, to the entire federal judiciary, and, indeed, to the rule of law itself,” Our Children’s Trust said in a statement, quoting Douglas Kysar, a Yale law professor not directly involved in the litigation.
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