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European carbon prices plummeted by more than 8% on Thursday, with traders dumping length on what market participants said was a myriad of contributing factors.
California’s ARB withdrew its Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) amendments from the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) this week for an undisclosed reason, ahead of the regulation’s final approval and implementation.
California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) and RGGI allowances (RGAs) saw little activity over the holiday break, with CCAs expected to remain rangebound in the near term while RGAs could see further boosts from colder weather and amendment approvals.
Massachusetts finalised its post-2020 RGGI Model Rule changes shortly before the end of 2018, leaving only three states left to approve the alterations.
A former carbon trader at PetroChina’s London desk has joined Engie as head of carbon and power trading in the Greater China region.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Action on inaction – US Representative Nancy Pelosi was elected as the new House Speaker in the 116th Congress on Thursday, as Democrats took control of the lower chamber. In her first speech in the role, which she also held from 2007 to 2011, Pelosi said Congress needs to put an end to the inaction and denial of climate change science, and that the issue represented an economic, moral, and public health issue for the government. Pelosi also officially tapped Representative Kathy Castor (D) of Florida to led the Select Committee on Climate Crisis in the House, which is slated to address issues related to climate change and renewable energy. (Vox)
Now that that’s over with – With the new Congress sworn in, US EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler is expected to be nominated by President Trump as the agency’s permanent chief. “I’d expect [the nomination] anytime after noon today,” he told Bloomberg Environment, with an administration official looking to send over Wheeler’s nomination to the Senate over the next two weeks or so, barring the trajectory of the current partial government shutdown. While two of the three Democratic senators who supported Wheeler’s bid for deputy administrator last spring lost their seats in the November mid-term elections, Republicans increased their majority in the chamber to 53-47 over the Democrats. Separately, the government shutdown has “indefinitely delayed the Trump administration’s release of a proposed plan for offshore oil and natural gas,” sources told S&P Global Platts.
Re-taking Germany – Renewables overtook coal as Germany’s main source of energy for the first time last year. The research from the Fraunhofer organisation showed that output of solar, wind, biomass, and hydroelectric generation units rose 4.3% last year to produce 219 TWh of electricity, or just over 40% out of total national power production of 542 TWh, of which coal burning accounted for 38%. (Reuters)
UK efficiency – The amount of electricity generated in the UK last year fell to its lowest level in a quarter century. The UK generated just 335 TWh last year, a drop of almost a sixth from the country’s power generation peak in 2005 amid more efficient appliances, energy-saving lightbulbs, supermarkets installing better fridges, and industry using more efficient pumps. At the same time, output from renewable sources rose to another record high, generating an estimated 33% of the UK total in 2018. In combination with nuclear, low-carbon sources contributed 53% of UK generation in 2018, with the share from fossil fuels at its lowest ever. (Carbon Brief)
DfTDCMSBEIS – Proposals for a major revamp that would merge the UK’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) are being drawn-up by several cabinet ministers, according to reports. The Sun newspaper claimed yesterday that plans for a major departmental reorganisation are being championed by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss. But the proposals have not been approved by Prime Minister Theresa May, who is said to be opposed to any major Whitehall revamp. A spokesperson for Number 10 this morning flatly denied that such plans were being considered. “It is untrue and there are no plans to merge any departments,” they told BusinessGreen.
Irish dilemma – Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the government is looking at two models to increase the country’s domestic carbon tax. Any changes to the carbon tax will not apply until 2020, unless the measures are introduced on the night of the budget this year, he said, according to TheJournal.ie. Varadkar said his government is considering offsetting the rise with rebate cheques sent back to consumers. It is also mulling recycling the revenue via Ireland’s welfare system, for example increasing child benefits or tax credits. “We haven’t decided which to go for. I would like to get an all-party consensus around it so what I propose to do is develop a proposal in the first two months of the new year and put that out to the other parties to see if they are willing to be supportive of it,” he added. Ireland applies the €20/tonne tax to kerosene, gas oil, LPG, fuel oil, and natural gas.
Two more years – Canada’s Saskatchewan won’t charge large emitters regulated by the province’s output-based performance standards until 2021, the government said in a statement. Under Saskatchewan’s ‘Prairie Resilience’ climate change strategy, output-based performance standards regulating over 40 facilities emitting over 25,000 tonnes of CO2e annually took effect on Jan. 1. However, companies will have two more years to decide on how they choose to reduce their emissions, including paying into a technology fund or purchasing surplus performance credits or offsets. NDP opposition leader Ryan Meili said the Saskatchewan Party government was banking on the Conservatives to win this year’s federal election and do away with the Liberal party’s climate strategy mandate for all provinces to put a price on carbon. (Regina Leader-Post)
In memoriam – US Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Kevin McIntyre died on Wednesday at the age of 57, the agency confirmed. McIntyre stepped down from the chairmanship in October after missing two monthly FERC sessions for health reasons. As chairman, he led the regulator to reject the Trump administration’s plan to support failing coal and nuclear plants. His death opens another spot on the five-member commission, following the December Senate confirmation of Bernard McNamee. (Utility Dive)
Veganuary stampede – As rising numbers of people start 2019 vowing to go vegan for environmental and other reasons, chefs, restaurants and supermarkets are jumping on the often-ridiculed bandwagon. A record 170,000 people across 14 countries have signed up for Veganuary, in which people pledge to go vegan in January. That’s nearly triple the number just two years earlier, said organisers of the British-based campaign. (Reuters)
And finally… Climate change on the cutting room floor – Adam McKay’s Vice – an upcoming biopic about former VP Dick Cheney – covers the decades that the politician spent in Washington. Taking this approach was always going to mean certain details wouldn’t make it into the film. However, for McKay, one part of the story he wish he could have kept in was Cheney’s impact on the US’ environmental protections. “The one that drove me crazy was that he kind of single-handedly killed action on global warming,” McKay told Cinema Blend. It should be noted that the movie definitely does touch on Cheney’s environmental record – it apparently just doesn’t go as far with it as it could. “When we were making the movie, we hadn’t heard the UN report that global warming was 50 times worse than we thought, and I cut that [topic] out of the script, and I was like ‘awww.’ But at least we had the solar panels in there,” McKay said, referring to a sequence where the solar panels at the White House, installed by the Jimmy Carter administration, are removed when Ronald Reagan takes office.
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