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EU carbon prices briefly climbed to a new seven-year high above €14 on Monday, gaining for the seventh consecutive session as observers pointed to further gains.
Australia’s federal government over the weekend issued a new discussion paper on the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), shrugging off massive criticism to stand firm on the scheme’s overall emissions ambition, its approach to state-based renewables targets, and the use of carbon offsets.
New York’s grid operator has floated options for how the state might apply a carbon price to the price of traded electricity in concert with RGGI, with one alternative requiring that power suppliers provide more data than is currently required.
The Ontario government has released a framework for its voluntary offset programme, approving three quantification methodologies under an ‘open architecture’ approach that doesn’t limit project types.
Slovakia broke EU law by imposing a tax on sold or unused EU carbon allowances, Europe’s top court has ruled, a verdict that could cost the government tens of millions of euros.
Blockchain-based carbon credit platform Poseidon has committed to spend its first tranche of cash buying Peruvian REDD credits from UK-based Ecosphere+, as part of an initiative offering a voluntary carbon credit platform for retailers.
CARBON FORWARD 2018
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Job listings this week:
- North American Environmental Markets Correspondent, Carbon Pulse
- Senior Analyst, US Climate Policy, Environmental Defense Fund – Washington DC
- Research Consultant, Climate Change Division, Inter-American Development Bank – Washington DC
- Senior Associate, Climate Policy and Communication, US Climate Alliance Secretariat – Washington DC
- Policy Advisor (2 Positions, 2-Year Temporary), Alberta Climate Change Office – Edmonton
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
And finally… Uncommon wealth – Commonwealth nations such as the UK, Australia, and Canada have not made sufficient pledges to cut emissions based on their ability to act and responsibility for the climate change problem, while poorer countries such as Bangladesh, Kenya and Zambia are doing more than their fair share to cut greenhouse gases, according to a report by NGO Christian Aid. The report was published as the week-long Commonwealth leaders’ summit gets underway in London, relocated from Vanuatu after the island’s infrastructure was badly damaged by Cyclone Pam in 2015. The British opposition Labour party has supported a call by Vanuatu for a “climate damages tax” on fossil fuel producers, Climate Home reports. (Press Association)
Flat future – BP has pledged to maintain zero net growth in its operational emissions through 2025 even as its output expands, the oil major said in a new report released on Monday. The Advancing the Energy Transition paper also sees BP plan to lower its CO2 emissions by 3.5 Mt by 2025 through measures such as reducing methane emissions and curtailing the flaring of excess gas. The company added that it will invest up to $500 per year on renewables like wind and solar. (Reuters)
Closure costs – The potential closure of utility FirstEnergy’s three Ohio and Pennsylvania-based nuclear plants, as well as Exelon’s unprofitable Three Mile Island nuclear plant in the latter state, could raise the social costs of avoided emissions reductions by more than $1 billion over a 10-year period, according to new analysis. Researchers at consultancy The Brattle Group found that the resulting increase in carbon emissions from fossil fuels replacing the zero-carbon nuclear plants going offline would lead to an avoided emissions value of over $921 mln per year over a 10-year period, with another $170 coming from other GHGs and pollutants. Furthermore, keeping the plants open could lower annual electricity costs by $400 mln in Ohio and $285 mln in Pennsylvania. (Green Tech Media)
Uphill battle – A California bill that would require a 50% cut GHGs from with energy consumed at residential homes and commercial buildings by 2030 has cleared a key policy committee, but faces an uphill battle to reach the governor’s desk due to cost and fairness concerns being raised by major stakeholder groups. The legislation, AB-3232 by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D), is intended to help the state reach its emissions targets of a 40% reduction on 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
Defeated – A bill introduced by United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney that would have required the Alberta government to put future carbon tax increases to a referendum was defeated in the legislature Monday. Bill 202, the death of which was widely expected as it originated from the opposition party, would have made it impossible for current or future provincial governments to hike Alberta’s carbon tax above C$30 a tonne without the approval of a majority of Albertans. (CBC)
Confirmed – Ontario’s left-leaning NDP party released its platform ahead of the June 7 election, confirming its pledge to keep the province’s cap-and-trade scheme but earmark at least 25% of the revenues to support northern, rural, and low-income communities and individuals “who today are carrying more than their fair share of the burden”, as well as to assist trade-exposed industries. The move leaves the Progressive Conservatives as the only party vowing to scrap the province’s one-year old carbon market.
More kids are alright – A collection of seven Florida residents between the ages of 10 and 20 have brought a lawsuit against the state to start taking action on climate change. The plaintiffs allege that Governor Rick Scott (R) and his administration have failed to implement measures that would cut GHGs or prevent against rising sea levels in the vulnerable coastal state. Oregon-based Our Children’s Trust, which has also sponsored the Juliana v. US case suing the federal government for its climate inaction, is representing the group. Gov. Scott famously said that “I’m not a scientist” when asked about his thoughts on global warming, and supported President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement. (The Miami Herald)
Get it going – Activists have started to collect signatures to get a new carbon fee initiative on Washington state’s ballot this November. The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy is seeking 260,000 signatures by July 6, which would place Initiative 1631 before voters in November. The initiative would levy a $15/tonne fee on CO2 from large carbon emitters beginning in 2020, which would rise by $2 per tonne annually, adjusted for inflation. By 2035 it would hit roughly $55 per tonne and either freeze or continue rising depending on whether Washington state was meeting its greenhouse gas targets of reducing emissions to 25% below 1990 levels. The campaign is the latest in multiple efforts over the past few years that have failed to put a price on carbon in Washington state.
To the Victor belong the spoils – Private jet charter business Victor, in collaboration with Air BP and BP Target Neutral, has opened its carbon offset programme to operators and customers following a trial phase, GreenAir Online reports. Over half of Victor and Air BP’s 20 biggest operator customers have already signed up to the initiative, which is expanding during this year to a fully-fledged programme, with Austria’s GlobeAir among the early adopters. Over three-quarters of Victor’s customers opted into the scheme have received quotes for flights where carbon emissions for the fuel used will be offset through projects in BP Target Neutral’s global portfolio. The partners say it is an early opportunity for aircraft operators to take action on emissions with CORSIA deadlines on the horizon. Victor is also aiming to use carbon-neutral fuel for all flights by 2020.
A burning issue – David Buckel, a lawyer who spent much of his life campaigning for gay rights, died after setting himself on fire in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park early Saturday. A pair of suicide notes from Buckel described the act as a “protest suicide” intended to “bring some attention to the need for expanded actions” on climate change policy and the use of fossil fuels. In one, Buckel wrote that “my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves,” suggesting he had used gasoline or a similar fuel in his suicide. (Fortune)
Acting up – London’s Grantham Research Institute will host a livestreamed panel debate assessing the impact of the UK’s Climate Change Act, 10 years on, and discussing what lessons can be applied for other countries. It will be held 0830-1000 GMT on April 24.
Six appeal – The latest issue of quarterly magazine Carbon Mechanisms Review is out. It features in-depth analysis on the concept of additionality within Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and proposals for legal language on key principles of the Article 6 mechanisms developed on behalf of the German environment ministry.
And finally… Go be a monk – US EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s chief of staff was responsible for controversial raises given to three aides, The Hill reports. In a Monday report, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded that Ryan Jackson signed off on the five-figure raises, but indicated that Pruitt authorised them. Jackson increased the aides’ pay using a special authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act after the White House rejected the EPA’s request to make the raises through the normal procedure. The OIG report corroborates Jackson’s assertion that he was solely responsible for them, but Pruitt told Fox News the week prior that he knew nothing about the raises, despite Jackson adding “for Scott Pruitt” after his signature on the forms. Pruitt said he reversed the raises after the uproar over them, but the OIG could not confirm that. Separately, South Carolina Republican Representative Trey Gowdy told Fox News Sunday that if Pruitt can’t handle mean comments from critics, perhaps he should go into a new line of work, “like maybe a monk,” rather than fly first class. The House Oversight Chairman, who is now looking into Pruitt’s travel spending, is one of the EPA boss’ most conservative critics. In the Sunday interview, Gowdy told Chris Wallace that if Pruitt really wanted to avoid the public on flights, he should “sit in the last seat not the first seat.”
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