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The European Commission will take another look at implementing a floor price in the EU ETS, a senior official said Tuesday, submitting to pressure by several member states to revisit a policy that the bloc’s executive has historically opposed.
The New Zealand parliament on Tuesday approved legislation to amend the nation’s ETS, putting an end to a near-five year reform process that will see the market face a higher fixed price option for 2020 and next year introduce auctioning and an absolute emissions cap.
Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator has issued over 250,000 new carbon credits, mostly to land-based programmes and waste schemes, but revoked yet another energy efficiency project in its latest round.
The European Commission will present a first assessment of the EU’s 27 national climate plans together with an updated bloc-wide 2030 climate target in September, setting back the scrutiny by at least three months owing to delays caused by several nations submitting their plans late.
EU carbon prices could double or even triple from current levels within a decade should European lawmakers agree to raise the bloc’s 2030 emissions reduction target, analysts said Tuesday.
EUAs raced back to pre-pandemic levels above €23 on Tuesday but later slipped back, moving in step with oil and equity moves related to pandemic developments.
Quebec will push back the completion of the forestry protocol for its WCI-linked carbon market because of the coronavirus pandemic, with no firm timeline established for finalisation, a government spokesperson told Carbon Pulse.
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices remained largely unchanged on the secondary market Tuesday after Democratic majority lawmakers passed a budget that included a provision for regulator ARB to complete a cap-and-trade rulemaking by next year.
US biofuel credit (RIN) prices trudged back to the 50-cent mark over the past week, with the latest rise coming after a news outlet reported the EPA will increase blending volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to address a 2017 court order.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Biding time on the baseline – ICAO’s Council has agreed to give its 36 member states until the end of its ongoing three-week session to communicate their positions on changing the global aviation offset programme CORSIA’s emissions baseline, the UN body announced in a tweet Tuesday. Discussions began last week on dropping this year from the programme’s 2019-20 carbon neutral growth baseline to account for the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector, and the talks spilled over into Monday. EU nations last week backed a 2019-only CORSIA baseline, with the US and Latin American countries also reportedly supporting the change. The Council session ends June 26.
Open season – China will likely ease the pressure on local governments to shut older, inefficient coal mines as it seeks to meet rising demand of the most-polluting fuel to spur its economic recovery. Unlike the previous five-year plan, when China made a major push to cut overcapacity to support prices and help miners struggling with mounting debt, analysts forecast that the Beijing isn’t likely to set any targets for mine closures under the coming plan. (Bloomberg)
84 – California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) on Tuesday pled guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter caused by fires from the company’s faulty equipment that raged through the town of Paradise in Nov. 2018. Butte County Superior Court Judge Michael Deems read the name of each victim aloud in the courtroom, while the images of the dead were shown on large screen and PG&E CEO Bill Johnson entered a plea for each of the counts. The fire killed 85 people, but prosecutors weren’t certain they could prove PG&E was responsible for one of the deaths. According to the plea deal taken by the company, PG&E will pay the maximum fine of $10,000 for each life lost in the blaze. The utility is seeking to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings by the end of this month. (CBS SF)
Tunnel vision – The US Supreme Court removed a major obstacle to the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Monday, allowing the Dominion-owned project to tunnel under the Appalachian Trail, but multiple hurdles remain. A lower court revoked a US Forest Service permit for the gas pipeline on four different grounds, three of which remain after the Court’s ruling, and a federal appeals court review of FERC approval is also pending. The proposed 600-mile pipeline would run from West Virginia to population centres in Virginia and North Carolina. Critics also charge the pipeline, now more than three years behind schedule with a budget that has nearly doubled to $8 bln, is unnecessary and inflicts disproportionate harm on marginalised communities. (Climate Nexus)
Little progress – GHG emissions from Wisconsin utilities this year are expected to be significantly lower than they were 15 years ago, thanks to recent coal plant retirements, but a new report by state regulators forecasts little additional progress over the next six years. Wisconsin electric providers as a whole are on track to achieve a 40% reduction below 2005 emissions by 2026, but the draft Strategic Energy Assessment showed almost all those gains will be made this year. However, the assessment does not include a coal plant retirement announced in May nor half of the 1,000 MW of solar power Alliant Energy has announced plans to acquire by 2024. It also excludes solar farms being developed by non-utility companies. (Wisconsin State Journal)
Add it to the count – One of Australia’s leading iron ore companies, Fortescue Metals Group, has added to the flow of major corporations setting future climate targets. The company on Tuesday said it will bring its operational carbon emissions to net zero by 2040 and will support the Paris Agreement target over limiting global temperature rise to “well below” 2C. The announcement also included plans to invest in a portfolio of hydrogen projects, as well as building more wind and solar capacity. (RenewEconomy)
Flare dealing – The UK offshore oil and gas industry has pledged to cut emissions from its operations by half by 2030, and eliminate them completely by 2050, according to a commitment by trade body OGUK. The pledge will see the removal of more than 9 Mt of GHG output – equivalent to 4% of all UK emissions – by 2030 via reducing flaring and replacing gas-powered facilities with renewable generation as it discusses a “sector deal” with the government. However, the pledge relates only to direct emissions, not customer emissions that some firms have individually committed to address. (Bloomberg)
Spanish innovation – Spanish energy major Repsol will develop two major industrial decarbonisation projects in Spain through a private-public collaboration, Kallanish Energy reports. Together with the Petronor refinery and the Energy Agency of the Basque Government (EVE), Repsol estimates an initial investment of €80 mln. Around €60 mln will go to the construction of a synthetic fuel plant – to be built at the Bilbao port, with operations set to start within four years – that uses green hydrogen produced from renewables, combined with CO2 captured at the Petronor refinery. The plant will initially produce 50 barrels per day, with capacity scaling up later. The second project will be led by Petronor and will generate gas using urban waste that will replace part of the traditional fuels used in the Basque refinery. Initially, the facility will process around 10,000 tonnes of waste annually, with capacity to be expanded later to 100,000 tonnes.
Chain spotting – German software group SAP has launched a product to help firms track emissions in their supply chains, which is becoming a growing part of corporate climate strategies. The product, called SAP Carbon Footprint Analytics, will generate so-called network effects, getting smarter as more SAP customers adopt it. It can drive product ratings and support audits of a firm’s carbon footprint. (Reuters)
Green going – Germany’s Environment Ministry (BMU) is offering hundreds of thousands of euros in funding for innovative green mobility projects. The Future Competition for Sustainable Mobility aims to stimulate creative mobility ideas from municipalities, regional networks, companies, universities and clubs, focusing on the digitisation of transport, easing traffic, and improving rural living. The 10 most ecologically and socially sustainable projects receive up to €150,000 to develop a transport concept for 2035. Up to five will share a further €4 mln to implement their plans. The Ministry said the competition reflected the fact that more people are moving from rural areas to cities, as well as a wider digitisation trend caused by the coronavirus crisis. The announcement came as a Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) report suggested traffic conditions in Germany will be worse after the coronavirus pandemic than before it. The MOBICOR survey, which looks at the sustainability impact of mobility behaviour caused by the crisis, predicts a significant increase in car journeys over the next few months if trust in public transport is not regained. However, it also found that Germans are largely willing to ride a bike or walk if conditions are right. (Clean Energy Wire)
And finally… Green gone – The US clean energy industry lost 27,000 jobs in May, according to a new analysis of unemployment data conducted by BW Research Partnership. The analysis found that while the rate of job losses slowed in May, relative to March and April, the looming end of the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal programme to help small businesses retain employees, could cause new rounds of lay-offs without further intervention. Nearly one-in-five clean energy workers have lost their job since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though just a small portion of total nationwide job losses, the result has been devastating to an industry that had been growing rapidly. Some of the states hit hardest include Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Michigan. The May job losses and PPP expiration “indicates it will be very tough for the clean energy sector to return to its economy-leading jobs growth” without help from Congress or state governments, the analysis said. (Climate Nexus)
Bonus… End of an era:
CLIMATE CHANGE: After 67 days and 22 hours, the UK is again burning some coal to generate electricity, ending the longest coal-free period since the Industrial Revolution. Coal is generating less than 0.1% of total British power tonight | #ClimateChange #coal h/t @UK_Coal
— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) June 16, 2020
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