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Offset crediting from projects set to deliver nearly 100 million carbon credits to the Australian government should be subject to discounts due to doubts about their environmental integrity, according to the nation’s top scientific body CSIRO and the New South Wales state government.
A Belgian minister quit this week amid a scandal resulting from mass climate protests, lifting global warming up the country’s political agenda ahead of an election for which issues such as carbon pricing have been largely taboo.
Greece has received two bids for some of state-controlled utility PPC’s lignite assets, advancing the EU-mandated sale that has been under pressure from rising EUA prices and legacy costs.
EUAs gained 2.3% after briefly topping €24 on Wednesday to continue this week’s choppy rally amid supportive power prices and a gap in the auction calendar.
The ten US jurisdictions participating in the Transportation and Climate Initiative’s (TCI) development of a carbon pricing mechanism to regulate fuel emissions are beginning to craft a programme, but they have yet to outline any meetings or specific design elements, numerous sources said.
New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) published additional information this week about the assumptions and electricity generation mix that helped inform its 2020 RGGI cap proposal, in an effort to placate environmental groups who have argued for a more stringent target.
Illinois and Minnesota state legislators in recent days announced 100% carbon-free electricity targets and increases to both states’ Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), building on revamped climate action across America’s midsection early in 2019.
Increased deployment of carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies may require greater investments and a trading exchange in addition to higher US federal tax benefits, a report said Wednesday.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Don’t mention it – President Trump did not mention coal when he declared Tuesday night that his administration has “unleashed a revolution in American energy” that has lead to historic energy export highs and economic growth. Speaking at his State of the Union address, Trump emphasised the US’ leading role in fossil fuel production and exportation, championing the country becoming the leading global producer of oil and natural gas during his tenure. The president has routinely championed US fossil fuel production, including coal, linking it to the need for energy independence. That plan has frequently hinged on keeping retiring coal-fired power plants running amid cheaper natural gas – something he has struggled to do during his first two years. A record number of coal plants retired in 2018, with a steady number expected to follow suit this year. Trump also did not mention renewables or climate change in his speech, though this surprised few. (The Hill)
Back in session – The US House of Representatives held hearings on climate change Wednesday for the first time in years after Democrats took control of Congress’ lower chamber last month. The House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee and Natural Resources Committee heard from both federal and state legislators about their plans to lower carbon emissions. New York Representative Paul Tonko (D), chairman of the energy subcommittee, said he was working on a carbon pricing bill, but he anticipates it will take roughly a year to come together. While Tonko encouraged bipartisan solutions to address climate change, some Republicans hit back at the idea of a “Green New Deal” (GND) under development by progressives, with Illinois Representative John Shimkus (R) labelling the yet-to-be-released proposal as “wealth transfer schemes” and “radical”. Meanwhile, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) said her resolution laying out the scope of the GND will be released in the next few days. (Politico)
Mutti’s down – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has backed ending coal-fired power production in the country by 2038 as proposed by Germany’s coal exit commission. During a debate with Japanese students at Keio University in Tokyo, Merkel said that “by 2038, we want to have exited coal,” adding that “unfortunately we still have too much brown coal (lignite),” news agency dpa reports. The chancellor said that exiting coal would mean that Germany will have to use more gas. She also criticised the EU ETS, which according to Merkel “isn’t quite as economically efficient as we thought.” She argued that it would be worthwhile to consider putting a price on all CO2 emissions instead of applying different mechanisms for each sector. “Theoretically, this would be the best debate to have,” Merkel said. (Clean Energy Wire)
Gassy dreams – The natural gas industry is eager to see a jump in demand now that Germany has come up with a plan to end electricity generation by burning coal. That might never happen, according to a report by one of the nation’s largest energy companies. The study, which hasn’t been made public, shows that gas demand in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK is expected to fall by as much as 16% by the end of the next decade from 2016 levels. By then, the cost of solar and battery systems will fall far enough that renewables may become the most cost-effective way to generate new flows of electricity.
Steady does it – An ambitious and steady expansion of renewable energy sources can reduce wholesale power prices and carbon emissions in Europe while Germany phases out coal-fired power production, an analysis commissioned by power provider Greenpeace Energy has found. For every 10 TWh of additional renewables capacity, the power price will fall by €0.60 per MWh by 2022, and European CO2 emissions will drop by 4.6 Mt in the same year, the company said in a press release. (Clean Energy Wire)
Upward gust – Europe installed 2.6 GW of new offshore wind energy capacity in 2018, according to statistics released by WindEurope. That’s an 18% increase in Europe’s offshore wind capacity. Fifteen new offshore wind farms came online, with the UK and Germany accounting for 85% of the new capacity – 1.3 GW and 969 MW respectively. Europe now has 105 offshore wind farms across 11 countries with a total capacity of 18.5 GW. This is around 10% of the total installed wind energy capacity in Europe, with more onshore. The average size of the new turbines installed last year was 6.8 MW, 15% up on 2017.
Transatlantic trust – Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has signed a joint agreement with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to tackle climate change, reports the Press Association. The deal, announced during Sturgeon’s visit to the US, commits the two jurisdictions to share experiences and best practices on tackling climate change, as well as promoting business and economic opportunities created by the transition to a low-carbon economy. (Carbon Brief)
Put it where your projects are – The Alberta government announced on Wednesday that it is putting C$70 million towards almost a dozen private-sector industry projects aimed at GHG reductions. Funding through the province’s Climate Leadership Plan will leverage more than C$200 million in private investment towards the projects that were selected through Emissions Reductions Alberta. The projects include a lower-carbon fuels initiative at cement maker Lafarge Canada’s Exshaw plant, a flue gas heat and water recovery undertaking from Imperial Oil, and a supercritical CO2 waste heat recovery and technology project from TransCanada Energy. The government said the 11 projects would eliminate more than 5.3 million tonnes of CO2e by 2030. (CBC)
Pushing back – Twenty Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by California’s Doris Matsui, introduced the “Clean and Efficient Cars Act” on Tuesday, Politico reports. The bill would override the Trump administration’s plans to roll back GHG emissions standards for vehicles by codifying EPA emissions rules issued by the Obama administration.
Green Mode – Ride-sharing app Lyft will begin offering customers the option of picking an electric vehicle for future trips. The company on Wednesday said customers would soon be able to request EVs through “Green Mode” in an effort to reduce emissions from the transportation sector. Lyft drivers would also be able to rent EVs through the company’s Express Drive programme, and those rentals would include unlimited charging. The company did not announce whether customers would incur additional charges for requesting rides in Green Mode.
And finally… Polish Spring – Poland’s first openly gay politician has launched Spring, a progressive political party aimed at challenging the EU country’s governing right-wing party accused by critics and the EU of passing reforms that threaten the rule of law. The move by Robert Biedron, the popular former mayor of the northern town of Slupsk, comes as Poland gears up for elections – both domestic and European – this year. Biedron has vowed to “close all coal mines” by 2035 in a bid to stem chronic smog in the coal-dependent country. A recent opinion poll shows Spring has already captured 6.4% popular support, putting it a distant third to the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party and the opposition liberal Civic Platform (PO). (AFP)
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