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Airline Virgin Atlantic has become the latest firm to remove a Cambodian REDD+ project from its portfolio of offset sources, according to media reports, amid ongoing claims that large areas covered by the initiative were subject to rampant deforestation.
The European Commission will propose shifting some EU ETS auction revenue from member state coffers to the central EU budget to fill a gap caused by the UK’s exit from the bloc.
Ukraine’s environment ministry has published a draft law that would require its big emitters to audit their emissions, an initial step towards its plans to developing a functioning ETS by 2020.
EU carbon prices gained for a second straight day as supply was constrained due to a rare auction-free session and despite a bearish signal from the energy complex.
Natural capital vehicle Althelia Climate Fund has invested €5.1 million in a project to restore carbon-intensive peatland rainforest in Indonesia.
Exchange operators CBL Markets have partnered with Acorns Australia to offer voluntary offsetting to the small investor platform’s 370,000 users.
California’s Air Resources Board issued just over 293,000 offsets in its first handout of 2018.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
China champions – Chinese support for and financing of overseas coal power investments has been widely reported. Yet the country’s firms and financial institutions are also investing abroad heavily in clean technology, according to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). From solar to electric vehicles, Chinese firms are increasingly looking abroad for new opportunities, IEEFA says, with their clean energy projects and takeovers totalling more than $44 billion in 2017. (Carbon Brief)
Slower decline – Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions continued to drop last year, Politico reports, but the pace of the decline slowed down, according to preliminary estimates from the consultancy firm Rhodium Group. Emissions dropped by 1% in 2017, compared to an average annual decline of 1.6% between 2005 and 2016. The drop in power sector emissions last year was offset by growth in the transportation, industry and building sectors. Rhodium found that the US is on track to meet its pledge to cut emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, though the country will need to “significantly accelerate” efforts to meet its commitment under the 2015 Paris Agreement, which Trump has said he will exit.
More closures – Meanwhile, a near record amount of coal-powered electricity is poised to shut down this year, according to recently released federal data. Roughly 13 GW of coal electricity at more than a dozen different units across the country are set to retire this year, Axios reports. That amount is second only to 2015, when nearly 15 GW of coal power shut down. Coal’s share of the electricity generation mix, which as recently as a decade ago was close to 50%, is projected to fall below 30% this year, according to EIA’s short-term energy outlook, also released Tuesday. Driven by exports, US coal production increased by 6% last year, but it’s expected to decline by 2% this year and next. Cheap natural gas is seen as the primary reason for the increased closures. The projections are significant because President Trump has promised to revive the US coal industry, but virtually all objective market trends and analysis indicate that’s not going to happen in any sizable manner.
Presidential tone – Bulgaria, the new holder of the six-month rotating EU presidency, said it will join Poland in its appeal against a Brussels decision to impose stricter pollution limits on coal-fired power plants emit. Energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova promised to make all efforts to protect the interests of coal mines and the big thermal power plants” and to support the industry’s application for derogations from stricter BREF pollution rules from 2020. (Reuters)
Another lawsuit – New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has announced a lawsuit against five major oil companies, seeking damages for the costs of infrastructure improvements to contend with the effects of climate change. De Blasio also announced plans to divest the city’s five pension funds of roughly $5 billion in fossil fuel investments, joining a growing number of investors ridding themselves of their carbon-intensive investments. New York’s divestment is thought to be the largest of any US municipality to date.
If at first you don’t succeed – President Trump sent the names of several controversial candidates back to the Senate, including Kathleen Hartnett White, who is up for head of the Council of Environmental Quality but who a Senate Democrat described as “overwhelmingly unfit for such a crucial position”. The nominees were included in a White House announcement late Monday that it is renominating dozens of people who require Senate approval to fill their government positions. At the end of 2017, the Senate sent back numerous nominees that were unable to get enough support to remain under consideration. (ThinkProgress)
Four more – The US bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus added four new members Tuesday, The Hill reports, including Democrats David Cicilline and Elizabeth Esty, and Republicans Mark Sanford and Dan Donovan. It remains unclear what the group actually does.
Climate refugees – New Zealand’s newly-elected Labor-led coalition government has become the first country in the world to introduce a climate refugee scheme. It plans to create a special refugee visa for Pacific Island residents who are forced to migrate because of rising sea levels. The government wants to discuss the scheme with Pacific nations next year and plans to start offering 100 places annually. (Straits Times)
And finally… Liberal tax garb! – The Conservative Party of Canada recently launched a new ad campaign claiming that the federal government’s carbon tax “has now come into effect.” The only problem is that it hasn’t. “Trudeau’s carbon tax is now in effect. Get ready to see your home heating costs soar!” read one of the party’s Facebook ads. The ad linked to a page on the Conservative Party’s website that asked supporters to sign their opposition to the “Liberal tax garb (sic).” The reality is the federal Liberal government had yet to even table its carbon tax legislation, and it recently gave provinces and territories an extra year to implement their carbon pricing plans. (National Post)
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