CP Daily: Monday January 7, 2019

Published 23:41 on January 7, 2019  /  Last updated at 23:41 on January 7, 2019  /  Newsletter  /  No Comments

A daily summary of our news plus bite-sized updates from around the world.

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TOP STORY

German EU carbon auctions expected to resume in February -Commission

Germany’s weekly EU carbon auctions are expected to resume next month, the European Commission said late on Monday, which could introduce more allowances to the supply-constrained market sooner than some had expected.

EMEA

Poland’s EUA-funded power price freeze leaves Brussels, market awaiting details

Poland’s hastily-passed law to cap retail electricity prices and use EUA sales to compensate utilities has left EU regulators and the power market awaiting details and raised questions as to whether the plans fall foul of the bloc’s state aid rules.

EU Market: EUAs fall 6% on energy, lacklustre 1st MSR-era auction

European carbon extended last week’s sell-off into Monday, as traders continued to dump holdings amid a falling energy complex and as the first EUA auction of the MSR era cleared well below market.

Hedge fund boasts over 50% return on bullish EU carbon bet

A London-based hedge fund has booked a better than 50% return for 2018 thanks to a bullish gamble on EU carbon prices.

EU utility profits shielded from higher CO2 prices, for now -Fitch

EU utility profit margins have been shielded from rising CO2 prices by power price gains, but this will fade from next year as their forward hedges begin to expire, ratings agency Fitch said on Monday.

AMERICAS

California utility PG&E exploring gas division sale, possible bankruptcy -reports

California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is exploring the possible sale of its natural gas division or possibly filing for bankruptcy to help pay off possible liabilities stemming from a deadly wildfire late last year, according to media reports.

LCFS Market: California prices drop in wake of PG&E bankruptcy fears

California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) prices have slid in recent days after reports surfaced that utility PG&E was exploring a possible bankruptcy filing if found liable for a devastating wildfire last year.

Twelve firms bid for allowances in first Massachusetts CO2 auction

Twelve Massachusetts companies submitted bids for allowances for the December auction of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) carbon market, with an undisclosed number receiving credits from the first sale, officials announced Monday.

Twelve new CITSS accounts opened during Q4 for WCI carbon market

Twelve entities opened Compliance Instrument Tracking Service System (CITSS) registry accounts for the WCI cap-and-trade programme during the fourth quarter, as the total number rose to 676, according to California Air Resources Board (ARB) data.

ICYM

California’s OAL approves re-submitted, modified LCFS amendments

*Updates Friday’s story in CPD to include new information that OAL approved the LCFS amendments*

The California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) rulemaking package late Friday and granted the state’s request for early effectiveness.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Bank run – World Bank President Jim Yong Kin announced on Monday that he is abruptly resigning from his position as head of the organisation by Feb. 1, three years before the expiry of his term. Yin’s decision to quit for an unidentified private sector gig was described by some sources as a sudden “and personal decision”, and the announcement came only a month after he said the bank would make about $200 billion available to fund climate action from 2021-2025. However, that commitment could be in jeopardy as the World Bank presidency is typically appointed by the US, with President Trump expected to use his effective power of a veto to make sure a close advisor or sympathetic political figure takes over, rather than the organisation’s chief executive and soon-to-be interim president Kristalina Georgieva. (The Guardian)

Ready for records – The US Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for the Massachusetts attorney general to obtain records from ExxonMobil on whether the company for decades concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in climate change. The justices refused to hear Exxon’s appeal of a ruling from Massachusetts’ top court that the state’s Attorney General Maura Healey had jurisdiction to probe whether the company misled investors and consumers on this topic. Massachusetts and New York launched lawsuits against the company following 2015 news reports that Exxon’s own scientists decades ago determined fossil fuel combustion must be reduced to mitigate the impact of climate change. (Reuters)

Tippy tops – Progressive US House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for a sharp tax hike on the highest incomes in order to fund a massive “Green New Deal” plan that would phase out fossil fuels by 2030, as she tries to push the political debate to the left. “It’s ambitious,” the New York Representative told 60 Minutes in an interview that aired Sunday. “It’s going to require a lot of rapid change that we don’t even conceive as possible right now.” Asked how high taxes should be set, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t specify a figure but offered praise for policies in the past that set top marginal rates as high as 70%. The current top income tax rate is 37%. “Once you get to, like, the tippy tops — on your 10 millionth dollar — sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70%,” she said. “That doesn’t mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate, but it means that as you climb up this ladder you should be contributing more.” (Bloomberg)

Separate slide decks – RGGI will hold a webinar on Jan. 31 to take comments about New Jersey’s potential participation in the northeast US carbon market, the regulator announced Monday. New Jersey officials in December outlined a potential 18 Mt cap in 2020 with numerous similarities to the RGGI post-2020 Model Rule, and the state is taking feedback on those draft rules through mid-February. As that process gets underway, RGGI will take its own feedback on the potential expansion of the programme. The regulator has not outlined an agenda for the webinar yet.

Roll up for research – The multi-stakeholder Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) and the World Bank Group have opened registrations to attend their world first International Research Conference on Carbon Pricing on Feb. 14-15 in New Delhi, India.  The event foresees hosting 300 participants and is convening over 30 researchers from across the globe to present papers on various carbon pricing themes.

Forward in February – Offset registry Climate Action Reserve (CAR) will host a webinar on Feb. 13 at 1000 PST (1800 GMT) to discuss its “Climate Forward” programme. Under the initiative, the Climate Action Reserve approves standardised and conservative quantification methodologies for assessing the forecasted (ex-ante) emissions reductions of GHG reduction projects and issues credits for the mitigation measures. These forward-looking credits can then be used to mitigate the GHG emissions impact of future projects that a company or organisation might undertake. Registration is available here.

Movin’ on – Former US Representative Carlos Curbelo (R), who lost his re-election bid in the November mid-terms, has joined Columbia University’s energy think-tank as a visiting fellow, Axios reports. The former congressman from Florida introduced a $24/tonne carbon tax bill last summer, the first move by a Republican in a decade, and prior to that created a bipartisan House caucus on climate change. The Center on Global Energy Policy was founded by Jason Bordoff, previously top energy advisor to then-President Obama, and the think-tank also features several other fellows from the Obama years, along with Trump’s ousted energy and climate advisor George David Banks.

As the kids say, not “jelly” – Climate change may be partly to blame for an epidemic of recent jellyfish stings in Australia, according to scientists. Australian authorities reported that more than 5,000 people were stung by bluebottle jellyfish in Queensland just this past weekend, and that over 22,000 sought treatment for the stings in southeast Australia from Dec. 1-Jan. 7, or roughly triple the same period last year. While strong winds have helped blow the jellies towards beaches in the past few weeks, warming oceans may also be playing a role by reducing predators and competitors, helping to boost the populations. (Climate Nexus)

And finally… Stupid brain – Action on climate change has been stymied by politics, lobbying by energy companies, and the natural pace of scientific research – but one of the most significant barriers is our own minds. Part of the reason it is taking us so long to act on climate change is because the human brain has spent nearly 200,000 years focused on the present. “Find food. Make shelter. Mate!” We only began to contemplate time, and by extension the future, within the last few hundred years. Making the future tangible is only one of the psychological barriers that have made climate change into an elusive problem. Our minds – regardless of one’s political or socioeconomic status – are constantly looking for ways to tell ourselves that business as usual is OK. News of disappearing glaciers fails to inspire serious change because of this cognitive shield – indeed certain efforts to educate only harden partisanship on the issue. But it’s still possible to train your brain to get over these hurdles. Here’s how. (PBS)

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