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The Trump Administration revoked California’s Clean Air Act waiver to set its own more stringent vehicle GHG standards on Wednesday, likely setting up a contentious legal battle between the federal government and the Golden State.
The German government will on Friday unveil its comprehensive new climate plan, which is said to centre around a domestic emissions trading scheme for the country’s transportation and heating sectors.
European carbon posted big losses for a second straight day on Wednesday, as much of the energy market declined as France’s EDF said there was no need to close any of its nuclear reactors after it last week flagged the discovery of faulty components.
Italy-based utility Enel aims to cut its emissions intensity by 70% under 2017 levels by 2030, it said on Wednesday, extending a company-wide target as one of a handful of firms to set an independently verified goal aligned with the 1.5C Paris Agreement global warming limit.
The UK government has awarded a contract to build and maintain an emissions trading registry for use when the country leaves the EU.
The Independent Planning Commission in Australia’s New South Wales on Wednesday rejected plans by South Korean firm KEPCO to build a new coal mine, citing environmental impact concerns and that the company had not done enough to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
South Korean carbon allowances hit record highs for the third consecutive session on Wednesday, as the few emitters yet to acquire the allowances they need before the impending compliance deadline are forced to pay higher prices.
New Zealand has issued guidelines for companies wanting to use carbon credits to voluntarily offset their GHG emissions, flagging the potential use of international units as well as some permits also eligible in the domestic emissions trading scheme.
A bipartisan group of Pennsylvania state lawmakers will introduce legislation this fall that may prevent the state from implementing a RGGI-linked ETS or carbon tax through regulatory channels, arguing that such a climate policy must be authorised by the General Assembly.
The addition of a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) in Washington state’s Puget Sound region could slash the carbon intensity (CI) of transportation fuels by over a quarter during the next decade with little economic impact, according to analysis released Tuesday.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Summit snub – Major economies, including Japan and Australia, will not be invited to speak at the UN climate change summit hosted by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Monday, according to the Financial Times. Continued support for coal in these nations goes against Guterres’ demands to stop building new coal power stations, to reduce fossil-fuel subsidies, and to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050. However, China and India, which are both building new coal facilities, are on the draft agenda seen by the FT. (Carbon Brief)
There’s good news and there’s bad news – Although only 12 nations have submitted long-term strategies (LTS) to the UNFCCC since 2016 for reaching net-zero emissions, nearly 100 others have signalled to the UN’s climate secretariat that they are also targetting carbon neutrality, according to a report released by the body and UNDP on Wednesday. Fifty-three of those countries, including many in the G20, are currently preparing LTS, while 44 more have plans to do, the organisations said. However, while 112 nations representing 53% of global emissions have said they will revise their Paris Agreement NDCs by 2020, countries’ existing climate pledges set the world on track for a rise in emissions of 10.7% above 2016 levels by 2030.
Production problems – The world is on course to produce 50% more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global temperatures to 2C above pre-industrial levels, and 120% more than keeping temperatures within 1.5C, according to preliminary findings from think-tank Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). The report builds on the UNEP Emissions Gap Report, which estimates that countries will need to quintuple their emission reduction pledges to keep global temperatures below 1.5C. To help inform decision-makers on the role of expanding oil, gas, and coal production in using up the 1.5C and 2C carbon budgets, SEI will release a “Production Gap Report” this November.
Hasta la vista, litigation – Major unresolved litigation targeting the Obama-era Clean Power Plan is dead after the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday dismissed a set of cases that had been pending since 2015 against the US EPA. The consolidated cases were moot in light of the Trump administration’s replacement regulation that took effect this summer, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, the full court said. A full panel of DC Circuit judges held nearly eight hours of oral argument in 2016, but the court put the case on hold after Trump took office and announced plans to reconsider the regulation. However, lawsuits from Democrat-led states, public health groups, and environmental organisations against the weaker ACE rule are now shaping up in the same court. (Bloomberg Environment)
Kyoto lawsuit – Despite rising GHG emissions in nearly every sector of the economy, Australia was able to meet its Kyoto Protocol target due to a ban against land clearing. However, according to the Weekly Times paper, New South Wales farmer Robert Houston is now suing the federal and NSW state governments for relying on farmers to achieve 80% of the emission reductions Australia needed to meet Kyoto but without compensating them. It’s unclear what the repercussions would be should Houston win. Australia has some 370 mln surplus Kyoto units that its conservative government has said it intends to use towards meeting Australia’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. The case is expected to start early next year.
All green – The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which is mostly the capital Canberra, will on Oct. 1 become the first ‘major’ city or territory outside Europe to receive 100% of its electricity from renewable sources, according to a new report from the Australia Institute. The ACT government has contracted electricity generation from five wind farms and three solar farms to reach the milestone, previously achieved by seven jurisdictions in Austria, Germany, and Spain. (RenewEconomy)
Coal cancellation – Canadian power generator TransAlta this week unveiled its Clean Energy Investment Plan, in which it will convert its existing Alberta thermal units from coal to natural gas in 2020 and 2021. Additionally, the company intends to transform two of its units to combined-cycle natural gas units between 2023 and 2024, as well as invest C$800 mln in four US and Canada-based wind projects that are already under construction and possess long-term power purchase agreements. (Power Technology)
Duke drop – US-based utility Duke Energy on Tuesday committed to neutralising its carbon emissions entirely by 2050, with an interim goal of cutting GHGs in half by 2030. While the company said it is the largest American utility to announce a 100% carbon free goal and plans to double its renewable energy portfolio by 2025, critics said Duke’s continued reliance on natural gas could jeopardise its longer term plans and leave investors with stranded infrastructure assets. (Utility Dive)
Track ’em all – Resources for the Future (RFF) today released the RFF Candidate Tracker, a new interactive tool that records the climate and energy policy positions of the 24 current US presidential candidates from both major parties. The tool will be updated throughout the 2020 presidential election, providing researchers, journalists, decision-makers, and the public with an up-to-date, detailed, reliable, and accessible source of policy information.
And finally… Boeing bash – Climate advocacy group Renew Oregon has released a new advertisement that takes airplane manufacturer Boeing to task for its role in the state’s ferocious cap-and-trade debate earlier this summer. The ad comes after State Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson (D), who has a Boeing facility in her district, became the decisive ‘no’ vote that sunk Oregon’s chances of passing a WCI-modelled carbon market bill in June. Monnes Anderson said the company argued the ETS would have increased its electricity costs at the Oregon facility by $1 million annually, and local outlet Salem Reporter concluded that that “emails between [Governor Kate] Brown’s chief of staff, Nik Blosser, and Boeing representatives show the company shifted its requests as the governor’s office tried to placate Boeing – and Monnes Anderson”. “Instead of cutting backroom deals that endanger our future, Boeing should focus more on keeping pollution out of the air, and keeping planes in the air,” says the 30-second ad. With Monnes Anderson this summer announcing that she will not run for re-election next November, Oregon Representative Chris Gorsek (D), who voted for the ETS bill in the House this year, said on Monday he will seek her seat.
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