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The US EPA finalised its Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule on Wednesday to replace the stayed Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP), with trading and biomass co-firing barred as compliance options and Democrat-led states already lining up to sue the agency.
Poll-leading Canadian Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer said Wednesday that he would eliminate the ruling Liberals’ ‘backstop’ carbon tax and alter its output-based pricing system (OBPS) if elected as prime minister this fall, while potentially exploring the use of low-carbon exports to claim emission reductions towards the country’s Paris Agreement GHG target.
Oregon’s WCI-modelled cap-and-trade bill is expected to face a Senate vote later this week, despite Republicans threatening to explore various options to halt the proposal.
California’s fuel consumption continued to fall below prior years early in 2019, while greater hydro generation is also reducing ETS-covered emissions from the state’s electric grid, according to government data.
US-based fund Climate Trust Capital (CTC) is beginning to sell California Carbon Offsets (CCOs) generated through its first round of project investments, and it is targeting the launch of a second fund by early next year.
Eastern EU nations will better finance their clean energy transitions by transferring ETS auction proceeds to the bloc’s Modernisation Fund as rigid rules for other options would stifle investment, a report found on Wednesday.
Companies regulated by Europe’s carbon market have exchanged almost 16 million Kyoto Protocol offsets for EU Allowances in the past six months, significantly ramping up the practice as EUA prices hit an 11-year high and as the usage deadline approaches.
European carbon prices eased in another quiet session on Wednesday but remained within sight of €25, as the Jun-19 options expired to little fanfare.
European low-cost airline Wizz Air has taken up rival Ryanair’s challenge to publish monthly CO2 emissions statistics, declaring itself to be the continent’s “greenest” carrier.
The Western Australian government is considering options such as an industry-funded carbon abatement fund as alternatives to mandatory offsetting for major resources projects, which it considers would impose significant economic costs on the state’s fossil fuel industry.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The next wave – Criminal gangs are targeting the renewable energy industry in the latest wave of VAT carousel fraud that has been blamed for draining billions of euros from the EU every year. HM Revenue & Customs said it had cracked down on the trading of renewable energy ‘certificates of origin’ “with immediate effect” to counter “a serious and credible threat to the VAT system”. The emergency action came into force last week, without notice, to avoid tipping off the criminal gangs and prevent substantial VAT losses for the UK, it added. According to the Guardian, this is the third time VAT fraudsters have targeted “green trading” in recent years after the EU ETS was in 2009 hit by tax fraud valued at over €5 bln.
French following – Yesterday, the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Assembly voted to establish France’s commitment to “tackle the ecological and climate emergency”, by adopting an amendment to the draft Energy and Climate Bill. The bill will also enshrine into law France’s new goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It is likely to be adopted as it is supported by the parliamentary majority group. It follows a similar move by Britain earlier this month, and comes as the EU attempts to corral member states to achieve the same goal. (GSCC)
French falling – Separately, CO2 emissions in France fell by 4.2% in 2018 compared with the previous year due to a drop in emissions from the transport sector, a mild winter, and abundant supply of French nuclear energy that curbed the use of thermal power, Reuters reported. Emissions were estimated at 445 million tonnes of CO2, the French environment ministry said in a statement. It is the first drop in emissions after two consecutive years of increase.
Help on the way – Bulgaria has proposed a bill to protect industrials from carbon leakage due to indirect costs linked to the EU ETS. Public consultation for the measure runs from June 12-26. Bulgaria joins neighbour Romania in floating a programme this month to compensate big manufacturers against double carbon costs, which are charged once for industrials’ own process emissions and again via their electricity suppliers. At least 15 EU member states currently operate similar programmes. (CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, Lexology)
No coal for you – Poland’s Supreme Administrative Court has blocked the building of Polenergia’s planned 1.6GW Polnoc coal-fired plant south of Gdansk, environmental group ClientEarth said on Wednesday. “Prompted by a complaint by environmental lawyers ClientEarth, the Pomeranian regional authority cancelled the [initial building] permit on that basis but the company appealed. This triggered a multi-year legal battle,” it added in a statement. (Montel, $)
Design flaws, eh? – New Brunswick released its draft carbon pricing plan for big emitters last week, but according to think-tank Ecofiscal, it has potentially serious design problems. The province plans to define the OBPS programme’s emissions intensity benchmarks on individual facilities, as some of the covered sectors only have a single plant. “It doesn’t really have a choice, though it could consider using a national average,” Ecofiscal said. But the New Brunswick plan also appears to set those benchmarks at a very high threshold, which could provide very substantial benefits to industry. According to a briefing deck from the New Brunswick government, it looks like big emitters will only pay the carbon price on 0.84% of their emissions to start, Ecofiscal said. That, they added, will set the benchmarks roughly equal to current emissions for each emitter – in contrast to the federal OBPS, which sets them at 80-90% of sector averages. That would make the provincial participants’ targets “very easily” achievable, which points to little-to-no demand for compliance units and, subsequently, drastically reduced funding available for low-carbon investment.
Crime doesn’t pay – Two men have been sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court for running an investment scam which lost 350 victims a combined £6.2 million. Craig Brooks and Marvin Brooks from Sutton Coldfield each received a one year sentence after an in-depth investigation by The City of London Police. Running three companies Bric Global Ltd, Citygate Capital Ltd and Rare Earth Commodities Ltd between June 2011 and July 2013 the pair used a script called ‘The Bible’ to manipulate victims to invest in carbon credits and rare earth metals. (Birminghamupdates.com)
And finally… Too much? – The New Zealand government’s One Billion Trees programme and the efforts to boost NZU prices have created risks of sparking a rural land boom pushing up prices and attracting foreign investors looking to buy NZ rural property, according to rural interest group 50 Shades of Green, which opposes the tree planting programme. Forestry Minister Shane Jones doubts this is much of an issue, but told reporters the government would be able to “tweak” its policies if the problem turns out to be real, Politik reports.
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