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Alberta’s UCP wins election, ending NDP carbon tax and setting up another Canadian climate policy showdown
Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) and leader Jason Kenney were elected in a landslide victory in the Canadian province on Tuesday, ending the ruling NDP’s two-year old carbon pricing programme and setting up multiple battles with the federal government over the party’s pledged climate policy rollbacks.
The risks presented by Brexit to the largest emitting company in the EU ETS are unrelenting and unhedgeable, according to RWE Supply and Trading’s head of regulatory affairs.
EUAs inched higher for a second straight session on Tuesday as strong auction demand eclipsed an ever-weaker signal from the energy complex to push carbon closer to last week’s 11-year high.
Governments are looking to change their approach on agreeing to a global rulebook for carbon markets in an effort to avoid a repeat failure that almost crashed the UN climate talks last year.
Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) on Tuesday approved a green group-led petition to introduce an economy-wide cap-and-trade programme in the state, but the proposal still has several more hurdles to clear before becoming a viable ETS.
All three of Ontario’s largest emitting sectors saw their GHG output drop during the first year of the Canadian province’s now-cancelled cap-and-trade programme, according to government data.
Canada’s economy-wide emissions rose in 2017 on the back of higher output in Alberta’s oil and gas sector, leading the country further away from hitting its GHG target under the UN Paris Agreement, according to government data released Monday.
Nova Scotia allocated its first cap-and-trade permits on Monday following the start of its ETS on Jan. 1, though several design elements of the Canadian province’s programme are still to be determined over the coming year.
US tech giant Microsoft announced Tuesday that it will nearly double its internal carbon price to further its GHG reduction goals, while also joining a Republican-backed organisation advocating for a nationwide CO2 tax.
Japan’s FY2017 greenhouse gas emissions fell 1.2% year-on-year, the environment ministry said Tuesday, meaning the country has achieved nearly a third of its Paris Agreement obligations.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Decision time – The German government will before the end of this year decide whether to introduce nationwide CO2 pricing beyond the EU ETS to help the country reach its 2030 climate targets, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her weekly video address. Germany must make “tremendous efforts” to reach its goal of reducing GHGs by at least 55% below 1990 levels, the chancellor said. “Our goal is to have the legal framework in place by the end of the year,” Merkel said, referring to her government’s planned “climate action law.” She said the government would decide on measures to reduce emissions from all relevant sectors – energy, buildings, transport and agriculture – but would debate “whether we will save CO2 by sector, or whether we will focus more on general CO₂ pricing” over the coming months. Merkel added that her government’s move to set up a “climate cabinet” was a measure of the importance of climate protection. A spokesperson for the environment ministry told Clean Energy Wire that a CO2 price should not be seen as an alternative to specific climate action measures in each economic sector, but rather as one part of a necessary programme of measures.
Trillions at risk – The global financial system could be left reeling as $20 trillion of assets are wiped out by climate change, if institutions and companies fail to prepare now, the Bank of England has warned. The shock could be so severe that it could trigger a “climate Minsky moment”, where asset prices suddenly become worthless, derailing global growth, according to Sarah Breeden, head of international banks supervision at Threadneedle Street. Sudden and severe losses would be incurred by anyone holding so-called “stranded assets”. These assets could come in the form of “unburnable carbon” in a climate crisis, Breeden told the Telegraph.
Carmaker chasm – Strict new EU CO2 emissions targets from next year are set to be the sternest challenge facing Europe’s car industry. Emissions are heading the wrong way, meaning carmakers could be hit with a potential €30bn penalty, according to Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess. One unintended consequence of the EU’s 2030 emissions targets could be the death of the small car as the cost to equip small, low-margin cars with batteries and electric engines to meet ambitious EU CO2 targets ‘looks totally unaffordable. (Financial Times)
Here we go again – The US Department of Interior’s (DOI) internal watchdog is launching an ethics probe into newly-appointed Secretary David Bernhardt, just four days after he was officially confirmed to his post. The Interior’s Inspector General confirmed in a letter that it had received several complaints from a “wide assortment of complainants alleging various potential conflict of interest and other violations” and would be looking into the allegations, including a report from the New York Times earlier this month that Bernhardt continued lobbying for a client after filing paperwork to end his lobbying career to join Interior. For its part, Interior defended Bernhardt’s actions, saying the complaints against the former fossil fuel industry lobbyist had been vetted internally. The news comes after Bernhardt’s predecessor Ryan Zinke resigned in December after a flurry of his own ethics-related investigations. (Climate Nexus, Politico)
The award goes to… – Over the years, the Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investment Challenge has spawned funds such as Blue Forest Conservation and Fresh Coast Capital. This year’s student winners from the Kellogg School of Management designed a Carbon Yield Fund to finance midwestern farmers to make the transition to organic farming by loaning funds to begin the certification process. The capital would be returned by aggregating carbon offsets generated by emission reductions from regenerative agriculturing. The competition, now in its ninth year, drew teams from 80 graduate schools that developed financing vehicles for sustainability and impact challenges in 31 countries. At the finals in Hong Kong, second-place went to the Grey to Green Fund, which would aggregate hotels’ greywater infrastructure in order to reduce water consumption. (Impact Alpha)
And finally… Lousy Smarch weather – New data from climate agencies in the US, Europe, and Japan have found that this March was one of the top three warmest on record. According to preliminary data from the US’ NASA, the globe had its third-warmest March on record at 1.11C above the 1951-1980 average. Using separate methods, Europe’s Copernicus Climate Service found that the globe had its second-warmest March on record, with temperatures 0.67C above the 1981-2000 average. Finally, the Japan Meteorological Agency also found that the global average surface temperature was the 3rd warmest on record since 1891. This year is likely to be another top five warmest as an El Nino pattern over the tropical Pacific is contributing further heat to the atmosphere. (Axios)
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