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EU carbon prices shrugged off a rare failed auction and weaker power prices on Friday to rise for the fourth day in a row, locking in a 9.9% weekly rise as traders positioned ahead of next week’s ETS reform talks.
Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator this week published new benchmarks under the Safeguard Mechanism, allowing airline Virgin and two BHP Billiton projects to increase their emissions while capping CO2 from Chevron’s new Gorgon LNG plant at 8.3 million tonnes.
New Zealand carbon allowances extended recent gains on Friday, jumping to NZ$19.15 ($13.28) as market participants said buyers appear to have accepted higher prices.
Two Canadian environmental groups have outlined what they say are major flaws in Nova Scotia’s proposed carbon market that, if not addressed, should result in the programme being rejected by Ottawa.
California carbon prices rose as the deadline for partial compliance approached, while allowances on the east coast trod water for most of the week as participants awaited next week’s New Jersey election.
It has been almost two years since countries adopted the historic Paris Agreement at the COP21 in France. In the next two weeks, this work will continue – perhaps less excitingly so – at the 23rd Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known informally as COP23 in Bonn.
Forests can play a larger and more important role in reducing climate change emissions than previously thought, according to a suite of research released today.
Below is a table of the closing prices, ranges and volumes for China’s regional pilot carbon markets this week. All prices are in RMB, and volumes in tonnes of CO2e. Data sourced from local exchanges.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Mixed messages – It is “extremely likely” that human activities are the “dominant cause” of global warming, according to the most comprehensive study ever of climate science by US government researchers. The climate report published on Friday notes that the past 115 years are “the warmest in the history of modern civilization.” The global average temperature has increased by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit over that period, with GHGs from industry and agriculture by far the biggest contributors. The findings contradict statements by President Trump and many of his Cabinet members, who have openly questioned the role humans play in changing the climate. (NPR)
Missing the point – The New York Times reports that the White House has confirmed that the Trump administration will promote coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as an answer to climate change at a presentation during the UN’s annual climate talks starting next week in Bonn. “The program is billed as a discussion of how American energy resources, particularly fossil fuels, can help poor countries meet electricity needs and drive down greenhouse gas emissions. Entitled ‘The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation,’ it will feature speakers from Peabody Energy, a coal company; NuScale Power, a nuclear engineering firm; and Tellurian, a liquefied natural gas exporter.” The paper adds that the event “is likely to provoke strong reactions” at the conference. (Carbon Brief)
Taxed out – House Republicans unveiled yesterday the first draft of a sweeping overhaul of the tax code that would make significant changes to taxes related to energy. The bill proposes ending the $7,500 credit for electric vehicles while also extending a $6 billion lifeline to the nuclear industry. While the bill would leave solar industry tax incentives mostly untouched, it proposes cutting wind credits from 2.3 cents per kWh to 1.5 cents—a move the wind industry says would jeopardize significant investments it has made around the country. The oil industry, meanwhile, would lose some small tax incentives under in the proposal, but it would keep larger incentives that, if cut, could have provided billions of dollars in revenue for the plan. (Climate Nexus)
Peak emissions – A new report published by World Resources Institute (WRI) suggests that 49 countries have already seen their emissions peak, representing around 36% of current global emissions. Another eight countries representing another 23% of emissions have commitments to peak in the next decade or so. Using WRI’s data, Carbon Brief has created an interactive chart to help explain the findings in more detail. To meet the Paris Agreement’s “below 2C” ambition then global emissions would need to peak in the next several years with a rapid fall thereafter.
Reversal of fortune – The future of the giant Adani Carmichael coal mine in northern Australian – considered a “carbon timebomb” by opponents – may be decided by a state election this month after the local premier shocked observers by pledging to block a A$900 million loan considered vital for it to go ahead, Climate Home reports. At a snap media conference late on Friday, Queensland Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk reversed her previous support for Indian billionaire Gautam Adani’s application for a concessional Australian government loan to pay for rail line from the outback mine site to a coastal port. She said she would exercise the state government’s power of veto over any loan after learning of rumours circulating about the role her partner had played in the proposed mine’s approval. Adani’s shares jumped on the news, suggesting some investors may see Carmichael as an unprofitable project.
Haters be hatin’ El Haite – Hakima el Haite, who was Morocco’s environment minister until a change of government in March and helped steer last year’s UN climate negotiations, will not take up her duties as talks resume in Bonn on Monday, Climate Home reports, after Morocco’s king placed her on a list of ‘negligent’ officials. In October, Morocco’s king Mohammed VI included El Haite’s name on the list that led to a mass cull of ministers and officials. Those named were said to have failed to reduce the civil unrest in the country’s northern regions and had shown “negligence in the exercise of responsibility”, according to a report released by the monarch.
So long, gents – Former Trump campaign aide and climate change denier Sam Clovis withdrew his nomination for the chief scientist position at the Dept. of Agriculture on Wednesday. Clovis faced increasing scrutiny this week after it was revealed that he knew campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos was establishing contact with Russian officials in 2016. Following his nomination, Clovis confirmed that he has published no peer-reviewed scientific work and has never taken any graduate-level courses in natural science. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, described Clovis as “a comically bad nominee, even for this administration.” In addition to Clovis, another prominent climate denier is also preparing his exit this week: Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Science Committee and harasser of government officials, climate scientists and other academics, announced Thursday that he would not seek re-election next year. (Cliamte Nexus)
How we doin’? – One year after the Paris Agreement officially entered into force, how are countries doing on meeting their climate commitments? More than 160 countries have formally joined the agreement and are moving forward to implement policies to tackle climate change. Green group NRDC provides a progress report on how key countries are doing on meeting their climate commitments.
New initiative – Germany’s environment ministry has launched the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) to strengthen internal European cooperation on climate protection, the ministry announced in a press release. The initiative will initially supply funding for 22 projects in central, eastern and southern Europe on topics such as climate protection education, energy efficiency in buildings, and strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in transport and agriculture. (Clean Energy Wire)
You’re dismissed – New Zealand’s High Court has dismissed a legal challenge brought by a law student against the previous government’s climate change policy, Radio New Zealand reports. Sarah Thomson filed the suit earlier this year, challenging the last government over its commitment to curb GHG emissions. Her lawyer Davey Salmon suggested there was a human rights aspect to the case and cited the hardship which would be caused to the New Zealand-administered territory of Tokelau as a result of rising sea levels. But the Crown in turn suggested the court should exercise restraint, saying the government was not contesting the seriousness of the climate issue, but rather the real question was how well equipped the court was to examine government processes. Thomson said she will appeal the ruling.
A bit unexpected – Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport became the first carbon neutral (level 3+) airport in the Asia Pacific region, according to Airport Carbon Accreditation of Airports Council International (ACI). But somewhat surprisingly, the airport achieved the status through voluntarily cancelling 107,000 CERs from a Brazilian hydro project, rather credits from India, which is the second largest recipient of CDM offsets after China.
Carbon neutral – The University of Tasmania has become the latest to be certified under the Australian government’s Carbon Neutral Program. To achieve the status for 2016 the university reduced its emissions and bought a diverse portfolio of 27,869 VCS credits, which included offsets from a REDD project in the Dem. Rep. of Congo, rice husk-based generation in Vietnam, biomass in China and India, Chinese wind, Indonesian biodiversity and a forest project based in Tasmania itself, official documents showed.
Oops – Quebec on Friday published updated cap-and-trade emissions figures for 2016, showing that installation-level output was slightly higher than reported on Oct. 2. It said its 85 or so installations emitted 17.78 million tonnes last year, some 3,500 tonnes more than previously announced.
And finally… Such a thing as “too clean”? – An expected choice for science adviser of the US EPA believes the air is too clean, the Independent reports. Robert Phalen, who currently directs the Air Pollution Health Effects Laboratory at the University of California Irvine, has research that would support the deregulation of policies aimed at preventing air pollution. Phalen has asserted that air is currently too clean because children’s lungs need to breathe irritants so their bodies can learn how to fight them. “Modern air,” he said in 2012, “is a little too clean for optimum health.”
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