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The California Air Resources Board (ARB) increased its total offset supply by more than 13% on Wednesday, doling out nearly 15 million credits to the largest single project in programme history and breaking its own record for a single issuance.
Two former senior UK ministers from opposing parties on Wednesday urged Britain to install a carbon tax to replace its EU ETS obligations post-Brexit, bolstering support for the option.
EU carbon prices fell sharply for the second straight day on Wednesday, hitting a three-week low and closing below €20 for the first time this month.
China’s top generators risk losing nearly $400 billion in stranded assets by 2040 if they don’t step up the retirement rate of coal-fired power plants, a report said Wednesday.
Indonesia will next month weigh four carbon pricing options to help meet its Paris obligations, including a full-fledged emissions trading scheme for its power and industry sectors.
Australia’s rising emissions could add to carbon credit demand from emitters regulated by the Safeguard Mechanism, but a repeat of last year’s price spike is unlikely as the market is better prepared this year, according an expert.
Observers remained sceptical of the long-term impacts of President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to order the US EPA to promulgate a regulation mandating the currently banned year-round sales of 15% ethanol blends (E15)
California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) average monthly prices retreated in September from all-time highs in August, while the total volume transacted trended in the opposite direction to notch a yearly high.
Project developer and advisory firm Bluesource has hired a carbon market and renewable energy expert to drive its voluntary offset business.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Need not apply – Commercial banks with big coal investments risk being overlooked for World Bank money, a key official announced on Monday. Its International Finance Corporation (IFC) will “proactively seek” clients committed to moving away from coal. Any client that continues to invest in coal will be required to publicly disclose the value of their stakes. That was the strategy IFC chief Philippe Le Houérou outlined in an article for Devex as the bank held its annual meeting in Bali, Indonesia. Separately, the World Bank has abandoned the last coal project on its books, with its president publicly dumping the Kosova e Re plant on Wednesday, because it could not compete with renewables on price, Climate Home reports. Speaking at a town hall event in Bali, Jim Yong Kim was asked by civil society representatives from Kosovo whether the bank was still considering guaranteeing loans to the plant. “On the Balkans, yes, we have made a very firm decision not to go forward with the coal power plant,” he said. (Climate Home)
If at first you don’t succeed – The US federal government is again asking a judge to suspend proceedings in a climate case scheduled to go to trial in Eugene, Oregon on Oct. 29. Government attorneys on Friday filed a motion in the US District Court in Eugene requesting a stay pending US Supreme Court review of the case, which is brought by 21 young people with the support of Eugene non-profit group Our Children’s Trust. The government repeatedly has tried to get the case dismissed. In a news release, Julia Olson, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, called the government’s latest request a “redundant motion” and “a show of fear.” In the motion filed Friday, the government asserts it is likely that if it petitions the Supreme Court for review, the court will call for the case’s dismissal. The government also asserts it would be “irreparably harmed” if the request for stay is not granted.
The forgotten sector – CO2 emissions from the US industrial sector are set to rise 23% by 2050, according to a new report by centrist think-tank Third way, AFL-CIO and the Council on Competitiveness. The authors argue that this sector is often overlooked in part because they are the hardest to turn green since renewable energy can’t fill the void and the chemical processes are quite carbon-intensive. “The lesson here is that transitioning the grid to renewables and other low-carbon power sources is helpful in addressing industrial emissions, but it can only do so much. Successfully cutting carbon in this sector will require significant onsite action at these facilities.” The report lays out ways emissions can be cut from manufacturing plants, including using more energy efficient technologies like generating heat to power, the chemical processes, and implementing CCS. (Axios)
First degree burns – Across the West Texas oilfield, energy companies have more natural gas on their hands than they know what to do with. As drillers pull growing amounts of oil from the ground, a lot of extra gas comes up with it. The gas is a byproduct that’s not worth as much as the oil, and pretty much all of the pipelines that could bring the gas to market are at capacity. So, they’re increasingly flaring of the gas, Houston Public Media reports. Flaring has recently hit record highs and that’s alarmed critics who worry about local air pollution and the effect on dark skies. Statewide, the amount of gas being flared is still only about 2% of all the gas that’s produced. Companies say there’s not a lot they can do about it at the moment, though they’re trying. ExxonMobil has committed to a 25% flaring reduction by 2020, while Shell and BP have signed onto a global effort to drop “routine” flaring levels to zero by 2030. It’s a situation with an uncertain future, because it largely depends on how aggressively industry decides to act, and a rollback of regulations by President Trump’s EPA certainly isn’t helping curb the practice.
Gates’ gift – Billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates has thrown his backing behind Washington state’s $15/tonne carbon fee, I-1631, which will be voted on Nov. 6. Gates said in a blog post on Tuesday that he was initially sceptical of the measure, but overcame his doubts about the initiative by recognising that climate change may be the “toughest problem humanity has ever faced”. He also said that the measure would help Washington become a hub for work on clean energy and climate, while also creating a market signal to drive adoption of renewable energy sources and keep nuclear power and hydroelectricity cost-competitive. Unlike former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who pledged $1 million to the I-1631 campaign, Gates did not disclose how much he would contribute. Separately, the Seattle City Council voted to endorse I-1631 on Tuesday. (The Seattle Times, My Northwest)
Another one bites the ash – Utility American Electric Power (AEP) confirmed on Tuesday that the company has decided to close down its 1,590 MW Conesville coal generation facility in Ohio by May 31, 2020, two years ahead of schedule. AEP had considered recent power auction results as well as the costs of continuing to operate the plant in determining it was not economically viable, and will now mothball Units 5 and 6 at the facility as early as next May and Unit 4 in May 2020. This also comes after one of the oldest coal companies in the US filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday to deal with more than $1.4 billion in debt amid declining demand for the fuel. Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Co. filed for voluntary Chapter 11 protection in US Bankruptcy Court in Houston as part of a restructuring agreement with an unnamed group of lenders. Westmoreland, which operates mines across the US and Canada, is the fourth major coal company to file for bankruptcy in the past three years, joining Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources. Westmoreland officials said in a statement that operations won’t be interrupted and there are no expected staff reductions. AEP’s plant was said to be a major customer of Westmoreland (Utility Dive, AP)
Irish U-turn – Ireland’s Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was widely expected to introduce an increase in the country’s domestic carbon tax this week, with other measures aimed at helping the country hit its carbon reduction targets. Following a split among lawmakers on the plan, it was eventually left out of the budget announcement. Instead, Donohoe said he aimed to put in place a “long-term trajectory for carbon tax increases out to 2030.” He also said he was allocating €103.5 mln to grants and premium rates for planting forests and pledged an increased focus on and integration of climate measures in future budgets. (Newstalk)
Promised Land promises – Israelis will no longer be able to buy new gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles after 2030, the Energy Ministry said Tuesday, unveiling a plan to replace them with electric cars and trucks that run on natural gas. The challenge will be creating an initial “critical mass” of cars that will move the local industry away from gasoline and diesel engines, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said. “We are already encouraging by funding charging stations, more than 2,000 new charging stations around the country,” Steinitz told Reuters. The government, he said, will also “reduce taxation on electric cars to almost zero, so they are going to be much cheaper.” The electric vehicle campaign is part of a broader plan to completely wean Israel off gasoline, diesel and coal. Israel in recent years discovered huge deposits of natural gas, a cleaner-burning fossil fuel, and it is converting its power stations accordingly.
Airport achievements – The number of airports worldwide engaged in the sector’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme has risen to 246 over the past year, representing a 25% increase over the previous year. Collectively, those airports managed to reduce their CO2 emissions by 347,000 tonnes. The programme has four levels of accreditation and 48 have now achieved the highest carbon neutral status. Of those, 44 airports have reported offsetting 672,000 tonnes of CO2 during the latest year of the programme, which was originally launched by trade body ACI Europe in June 2009. (GreenAir Online)
Forest findings – In a new global map, Carbon Brief pinpoints the countries that invested the most in afforestation from 1990-2015. Over this stretch, China planted the largest amount of new forest out of any country, covering 79 mln hectares, an area more than three times the size of the UK. The US also planted 15 mln hectares by 2015, including state-led efforts to bring new life to former mining areas, as well as by charities aiming to reduce CO2 levels and restore natural habitats. A key finding of the IPCC’s new special report is that it is likely that some degree of “afforestation” will be needed to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Cap-and-trade set for Oct. 26 – California’s Air Resources Board will discuss the proposed cap-and-trade amendments on the second day of its Oct. 25-26 board meeting, a source said. The ARB has previously said it would discuss the proposal on Oct. 25, but officials have reportedly elected to move the hearing back to the second day. In its proposed amendments, the ARB set out rules for offsets with direct environmental benefits to the state, price levels for reserve tiers and its new ceiling mechanism, and amended industrial allocation assistance factors to conform with Assembly Bill 398. The regulator, however, did not opt to alter the post-2020 supply or banking rules despite calls from critics. The board is expected to approve the proposal in December.
And finally… Wheelin’ and revealin’ – US EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has used his private social media accounts to interact with incendiary content online, including “liking” a racist image of former President Barack Obama and posts from conservative provocateurs, Bloomberg reports. Wheeler’s social media activity – going back years – stands in sharp contrast to his public profile as a politically savvy, humble Washington lawyer capable of avoiding the missteps that led to the ousting of Scott Pruitt, his predecessor at the EPA. In one case, Wheeler used his personal Facebook account to “like” an image of Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, depicting them as ogling a banana. More recently, Wheeler’s personal Twitter account liked a tweet from (formerly) convicted felon and right-wing filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza casting doubt on the veracity of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh. Wheeler said in a statement that he “[does] not remember” liking the post about the Obamas, and “agreed with the content and was unaware of the sources” for the other posts. (Climate Nexus)
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