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Lower California Carbon Offset (CCO) prices are expected to persist following the WCI cap-and-trade programme’s November compliance deadline, while entities are starting to offer credits with direct environmental benefits to the state (DEBs), market sources told Carbon Pulse.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) submitted draft legislation on Tuesday to move the state to a carbon-free electric grid by 2045, incorporating the use of renewable energy credits (RECs) and investments in energy transformation projects as compliance strategies.
California regulator ARB minted 365,845 California Carbon Offsets (CCOs) during its first issuance of 2019, with a bulk of the credits coming from a single ozone-depleting substance (ODS) developer.
European carbon prices fell on Wednesday, resuming the downward path they have carved so far in 2019 despite reduced supply.
Switzerland will take a conservative approach to procuring international credits that is unlikely to run afoul of international guidance in the future, an official said Wednesday.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Green money – The issuance of sustainable debt products surged 26% to $247 billion last year, as the market innovated to meet demand from investors, according to analysts at BloombergNEF. Green bonds issuance amounted to $182.2 billion in 2018, whereas one new product, sustainability-linked loans reached $36.4 billion. (BloombergNEF)
New nomination news – President Donald Trump nominated Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Wednesday to permanently head the US agency. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, has led the EPA on an acting basis for six months after former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned last summer amid various ethics scandals. Wheeler has shared the Trump administration’s penchant for rolling back environmental regulations, but he has done so in a more methodical fashion than his predecessor. While the Republican-controlled Senate could green-light Wheeler’s nomination, environmental groups are likely to rev up their backlash against the acting head. Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said on Wednesday “the only thing Wheeler is going to protect at the EPA is the profits of polluters.” (Bloomberg)
Fire alarm – Worldwide natural disasters caused $160 billion in economic damage in 2018. That was down from $350 billion the previous year, but a number of devastating hurricanes had contributed to the high losses in 2017, said reinsurer Munich Re. Insurers and reinsurers paid out $80 billion for natural disaster claims last year, down from $140 billion a year earlier. The figure is almost double the 30-year average of $41 billion as forest fires are becoming increasingly likely due to climate change. California’s deadly fires were single most expensive natural disaster in 2018. (Reuters)
We owe you NOTHING – Brazil owes nothing in the fight against global climate change and should be paid for its work so far, according to the country’s new environment minister Ricardo Salles. He said the Paris Agreement in itself is neither good nor bad, but it must bring economic benefits to Brazil. He added Brazil could withdraw if the pact limits production or the use of land. President Jair Bolsonaro backtracked on plans to scrap the environment ministry under pressure from the country’s powerful farm lobby that feared repercussions from international consumers concerned with sustainable agriculture, though the head of the agency has since quit. (Bloomberg)
Belt, Road & CO2 – Yale Environment 360 has a cautionary look at the emissions stakes of China’s Belt & Road initiative (BRI), the massive collection of infrastructure projects that spans several continents. The multi-decade project formally launched in 2013 aims to project China’s economic interests through a network of infrastructure projects that include shipping ports, railways and highways. BRI has the potential to transform economies in China’s partner countries, but it could also tip the world into catastrophic climate change. The piece notes that the project will “absorb massive amounts of concrete, steel, and chemicals, creating new power stations, mines, roads, railways, airports, and container ports, many in countries with poor environmental oversight.” (Axios)
In-county consideration – Following its legal victory over the County of San Diego’s offset plan, the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club is calling for the exploration of an in-county offset programme for everything from urban sprawl to port operations. A California Superior Court judged in December ruled that the housing projects relying on out-of-jurisdiction carbon offsets to nullify the impacts of urban sprawl may not proceed because the plan violates prior guidance and lacks environmental integrity, which Sierra Club argued in its lawsuit. At the county’s Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Sierra Club said the group wants to work with the local government and housing developers on a plan. The county didn’t respond to Sierra Club’s request at the meeting, and a member of another green group, Climate Action Campaign, called the group’s plan “dubious at best.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Recusal refusal – US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) officials have advised Commissioner Bernard McAfee not to recuse himself from the agency’s upcoming grid resilience proceeding unless it comes to “closely resemble” the debate over the coal and nuclear bailout originally proposed by McAfee. FERC set up the resilience docket last January after rejecting the plan McAfee helped design, and environmental groups and Democrats have called on him to step aside from the resilience proceeding. However, a leaked December correspondence provided to Utility Dive showed FERC Associate General Counsel Charles A. Beamon telling McAfree the situation did not require a recusal despite the bailout docket and resilience proceeding being similar.
CC in the SC – The German government supports the Dominican Republic in its preparations for a UN Security Council (UNSC) high-level open debate about the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security, a foreign ministry source told Clean Energy Wire. The Federal Foreign Office is “in close contact with” the Dominican Republic regarding the preparation of the debate, which will take place on Jan. 25, said the source. At the Caribbean nation’s request, the foreign office “contributed elements to a concept note, which was sent to all Security Council members.” Both countries are newly elected non-permanent members of the UNSC and have announced their intention to make the impacts of climate change on international security a priority during their term. The Dominican Republic holds the presidency of the Security Council throughout Jan. 2019.
Steyer 2020…JK – Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer said Wednesday that he would not run for president, and he would instead funnel money into his campaign against President Donald Trump. Steyer has flirted numerous times with a potential political campaign, including California governor, but he opted not to run for president in 2020. (Politico)
Removal business – Oil majors Chevron and Occidental Petroleum are taking a minority stake in Canadian direct air capture firm Carbon Engineering. This marks the first significant investment by energy groups into the technology. The Bill Gates-backed startup said the new investment was part of a $60m fundraising round that would help it design and build commercial-scale plants. (Financial Times)
Buffer plant – Uniper is set to build a 300MW gas power plant after tendering to provide reserve grid facilities, the German utility said Wednesday. The gas-fired power plant is set to come online in Oct. 2022, but it will act only as a safety cushion for the grid and will not be able to sell power into the market. The plant will mark the first awarded contract out of a total 1.2 GW in similar reserve grid capacity tenders in southern Germany.
Participation encouraged – California and Quebec regulators have updated their presentation on participating in joint cap-and-trade auctions in the WCI programme. The training presentation provides detailed requirements and instructions for participating in a joint auction, including eligibility, applicant requirements, administrative requirements, submitting a bid guarantee, bidding, and a description of the process to complete auction settlement and transfer of allowances. The first quarterly sale of the year takes place on Feb. 20.
Ride the green wave – Environmental activists rallied at the Maryland state legislature on Tuesday for a soon-to-be proposed “Clean Energy Jobs Act.” The bill would increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030 and require legislators to develop a plan to reach 100% clean power by 2040. The state’s current RPS is 25% by 2020. Activists brought inflatable green surfboards to the rally to urge the second-term governor to get behind the growing momentum to enact climate legislation. Hogan, who said a “purple surfboard” allowed him to withstand the blue wave in November, has previously vetoed measures that would increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard.
And finally… Old nomination news – Former US EPA chief Scott Pruitt got nearly half a million dollars in support of his nomination to head of the agency from a dark money group, including at least one oil company, according to Politico. Documents obtained by the news organisation showed that Protecting America Now, a 501(c)(4) corporation under US tax code, incorporated in Delaware just a day after President Trump nominated Pruitt two years ago. However, the non-profit is only now revealing information about itself, with observers questioning if the organisation was a shell to allow donors to engage in political spending. The only donor to reveal itself was Texas-based oil and gas company Pioneer Natural Resources, which voluntarily revealed that it contributed $100,000, and several weeks after Pruitt took office he halted work on a methane rule Pioneer had identified as a threat to its business. The source(s) of the other $459,500 Protecting America Now raised in 2017 to help get Pruitt elected remains unknown.
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