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(Updated with final results of the negotiations, reaction to deal)
EU nations early Tuesday clinched a deal on the bloc’s €1.82 trillion seven-year budget and coronavirus recovery package, which may see funding for coal-dependent regions under the bloc’s Just Transition Fund slashed to under €20 billion.
Additional compliance offsets that would meet California regulator ARB’s definition of having direct environmental benefits to the state (DEBs) are waiting for final approval, likely bolstering supply ahead of the WCI-linked carbon market’s post-2020 period, according to registry data.
California gasoline sales rebounded in May after sinking to historic lows in April amid the COVID-19 pandemic, likely mitigating some of this year’s demand destruction in the state’s WCI-linked ETS, according to federal data released Tuesday.
A $2.5 trillion hedge fund has registered for a RGGI CO2 Allowance Tracking System (COATS) ahead of the Northeast power sector carbon market’s September auction, marking its second entrance into US-based cap-and-trade programmes.
US biofuel credits (RIN) values are stagnating in July as the market awaits clarity on next year’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes and compliance waiver requests.
EU carbon prices rose along with wider financial markets on Tuesday, boosted by a deal on the bloc’s next seven-year budget and a coronavirus recovery fund that was clinched overnight.
Swedish utility Vattenfall saw its fossil-based production fall by a third during the first half of 2020 due mainly to weak generation margins and “challenging” market conditions, it announced Tuesday.
Including shipping in the EU ETS would increase the market’s scope by 8-9%, though the impact on allowance prices would depend on the sector’s emissions cap and level of free allocation, analysts said.
New Zealand carbon allowances hit a fresh all-time high on Tuesday, with prices being pushed up because potential sellers are holding on to their NZUs in the anticipation that prices will continue to rise.
New offsets issued by Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator and carbon credits delivered to the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund both dipped over the past two weeks after higher-than-usual activity in June, as the 2019-20 financial year came to an end.
Australia’s Queensland could earn some 5 million carbon credits by reinstating tidal exchange in some 90,000 hectares throughout the Great Barrier Reef catchments, a study has found.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Blank slate – If presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump this November, his EPA will have a blank slate for writing climate rules, E&E News reports. Because the Trump administration spent 3.5 years demolishing its predecessor’s Climate Action Plan, Biden’s team would have an opening to update rules for carbon, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons that would exceed their Obama-era counterparts or be more tailored to the political, judicial, and economic realities of the 2020s. To be sure, a departing Trump EPA would leave finalised rules for power plant carbon, vehicle fuel economy, and oil and gas development, among other things, but most of those regulations haven’t faced court reviews, allowing an incoming administration to ask that they be returned to the agency. That request, if granted, would clear the path for a Biden EPA to write new rules to go with the former US vice president’s promise of rejoining the Paris Agreement and the international effort to contain global warming.
Farm funds – German pharmaceutical company Bayer launched a pilot programme in the US and Brazil on Tuesday that will pay farmers for capturing carbon in cropland soils. The company seeks to enrol about 1,200 row crop farmers in its Bayer Carbon Initiative in the first season, with a goal to scale up in upcoming seasons and ultimately expand to other countries. Bayer is also working with other partners including Brazil’s Embrapa – the government’s crop research agency – to build a market for trading the carbon credits created. (Reuters)
Green Boris – British PM Boris Johnson has announced £350 mln in funding to help drive down GHGs from heavy industry, construction, space, and transport as he seeks to bolster his environmental credentials and boost the UK’s economic recovery from coronavirus. The cash will go into projects to scale up the use of hydrogen as a fuel, develop CCS technology, and drive the use of “innovative materials” in heavy industry. On Wednesday, Johnson will hold the first meeting of the government’s new Jet Zero Council to help cut flight emissions. The UK is trying to decarbonise its economy by 2050 to meet its own legally-binding “net zero” target, and both Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak have pledged to ensure the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is a “green” one. (Bloomberg)
How do you like them, Apple? – Tech giant Apple on Tuesday announced that it will achieve carbon neutrality in its supply chain and products by 2030. The California-based company said it can cut 75% of its emissions within 10 years, and the remaining 25% it hopes to reduce by creating a “carbon solutions fund” to invest in natural climate solutions. However, Apple officials said the fund won’t be the same as an offset programme, and did not disclose the amount of money the company will invest. (Axios)
The Big Green Apple – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the largest solicitation for renewable energy capacity in the US on Tuesday as it sought up to 4 GW to help combat climate change. The announcement included up to 2.5 GW in the state’s second offshore wind solicitation, while Cuomo’s administration looks to procure 1.5 GW from land-based, large-scale renewable energy projects. Any land-based project selected would be fast tracked to help the state reach its 2050 net zero emissions goal.
House(holder) of cards – FBI agents arrested Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R) on Tuesday in connection with a $60 mln bribery scheme allegedly involving state officials and associates. The charges are linked to a controversial law passed last year, HB-6, that bailed out two nuclear power plants in the state from utility FirstEnergy Solutions while gutting subsidies for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The federal complaint describes a years-long bribery campaign to build support for Householder’s bid to become House speaker and then pass the nuclear bailout law with his help. Householder won the speakership in Jan. 2019, and the bailout passed in July. Federal prosecutors say that between Mar. 2017 and Mar. 2020, entities related to an unnamed company – but that would appear to be FirstEnergy Solutions – paid millions to Householder’s Generation Now, described as a “a 501(c)(4) entity secretly controlled by Householder.” (NPR)
(Don’t) do it with flare – Estimates from satellite data show global gas flaring increased in 2019 to levels not seen in more than a decade, to 150 billion cubic meters (bcm), equivalent to the total annual gas consumption of Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Bank, the 3% rise from 145 bcm in 2018 was mainly due to increases in three countries: the US (up by 23%), Venezuela (up by 16%), and Russia (up by 9%). Gas flaring in fragile or conflict-affected countries also increased in 2019: in Syria by 35% and in Venezuela by 16%, despite oil production flattening in Syria and declining by 40% in Venezuela. Gas flaring, the burning of natural gas associated with oil extraction, takes place because of technical, regulatory, and/or economic constraints. It results in more than 400 million tonnes of CO2e every year and wastes a valuable resource, with harmful impacts to the environment from un-combusted methane and black carbon emissions. The top four gas flaring countries (Russia, Iraq, the US, and Iran) accounted for almost half of the global total between 2017-19. When looking at all oil-producing countries, excluding the top four, the World Bank said flaring declined by 9 bcm or 10% from 2012 to 2019. In Q1 2020, the practice fell by 10% globally, with declines across most of the top 30 gas flaring countries.
Leave it – A German startup is reportedly on the verge of industrialising a process that can increase biogas energy yields by 40%, and even turn leaves into fuel, the Berliner Zeitung reports. LXP, based in Teltow, uses a patented lignin extraction process to vastly increase the amount of plant material that can be used in biogas plants. For example, the cobs and upper part of maize plants – the most common biogas feed – are currently the only useable parts. But the LXP method breaks down woody parts, such as stalks, which are usually composted or burnt, to extract energy-rich cellulose. The resultant ‘wood sugar’ increases yields in biogas plants by 30-40%, with the energy requirements of the process reducing this by about 10%. The process is said to also work with leaves, branches, and small trees. LXP opened a demonstration plant near Regensburg in February and is now working with forestry, agricultural and recycling firms to industrialise the process. It aims to open its first large-scale lignin extraction plant in one to two years, initially supplying municipal utilities with at least 10,000 tonnes of wood sugar a year, eventually rising to up to 50,000 tonnes. Today, about 3.5% of the electricity generated in Germany comes from maize. But feeding the country’s 10,000 plants has resulted in 7% of its entire surface area being turned over to maize production, adversely affecting agriculture and prices. (Clean Energy Wire)
And finally… The impenetrable fortress of suburbia – Rich Americans are responsible for about 25% more GHG emissions from their homes than poorer Americans, according to new research. The comprehensive study of US residential carbon footprints, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that GHG pollution from especially affluent suburbs can be 15 times higher than in nearby neighbourhoods, primarily due to larger homes. The study also showed the importance of decarbonising the country’s residential sector, with the 25 least-polluting ZIP codes all found in California and New York, where officials have taken more aggressive action to combat climate change. (Climate Nexus)
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