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The European Parliament on Thursday challenged the deal reached by EU nations on the bloc’s seven-year Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and COVID recovery plan, citing concerns over governance and uncertainty about new sources of financing, including revenues from auctioning EU carbon permits.
China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has ordered the closure of 7.3 GW worth of outdated coal-fired power generation capacity before the end of the year, slashing the amount of CO2 expected to be covered in its national emissions trading scheme.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has called for a harmonisation of carbon taxes among EU nations to promote additional CO2 removal measures to complement the bloc’s cap-and-trade system.
EU carbon rose on Thursday amid bullish technical signals and a second straight strong auction result, as more lawmakers reproached speculators for driving prices to near-record levels.
The UK government has awarded £50.9 million in compensation to 61 companies for their 2019 costs relating to the EU ETS, in an effort to shield them from carbon leakage risks.
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices remained rangebound on the secondary market this week despite vehicle miles travelled (VMT) rising in the state, while RGGI allowances (RGAs) inched up on meagre activity.
Seventeen northern California municipalities sued utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) this week alleging it intentionally miscalculated city and county electricity taxes by accounting for freely allocated carbon allowances under the state’s ETS, according to court documents.
California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credits bounced back from nearly three-month lows this week as recent-sell side pressure waned and buyers jumped in.
Ohio officials on Thursday proposed to withdraw legislation that bailed out several nuclear and coal plants and gutted the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), after the the Buckeye State’s House leader was arrested this week in connection with a $60-million bribery scheme related to the bill.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Platform proposal – The US Democratic Party’s formal governing body, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), has released a draft of its 2020 policy platform, including more progressive and less progressive stances on climate policy than its 2016 platform. The DNC calls for achieving net zero power sector emissions by 2035 and economy-wide by mid-century, matching presumptive nominee Joe Biden’s recent commitments, as well as implementing a carbon border adjustment for countries failing to live up to their Paris Agreement pledges. However, the new platform omitted the reference to carbon pricing contained in the 2016 version, makes no mention of fracking, and does not call for stopping new federal permits for fossil fuel infrastructure. (Heated, Politico)
Incentives and industrials – Seven US Senate Republicans have urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) to add a host of clean energy incentives including wind, solar, and nuclear power to the next COVID-19 economic recovery bill. The aid could range from extending soon-to-expire tax credits to so-called “direct payments” – essentially a Treasury Department cash advance for renewable energy projects now instead of having them wait for future tax credits, a change that would provide the industry much-needed liquidity. The senators penned that letter as think-tanks Great Plains Institute and World Resources Institute announced the launch of the Industrial Innovation Initiative. The new initiative also provided federal recommendations for spurring a coronavirus economic recovery, including a direct pay option for projects that reduce industrial emissions and eliminating ‘45Q’ tax credit eligibility thresholds for industrial facilities and CCUS projects. (Bloomberg Law)
Alliant aspiration – US utility Alliant Energy on Wednesday announced its commitment to net zero electricity emissions by 2050. The “new aspirational goal” reduces carbon emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030 and eliminates all coal-fired power by 2040, some 10 years faster than previously planned. The company, which currently owns or partially owns eight coal plants in Iowa and Wisconsin, said it may keep some natural gas-fired plants online, retrofitted with carbon capture or some other emissions-reducing technology, or it could also use offsets to reach that goal. (Utility Dive)
Cool your jets – American Airlines on Wednesday announced an offset partnership with non-profit Cool Effect. The partnership will connect the Texas-based carrier’s customers with a custom website to learn about offsetting, view project details and benefits, and purchase credits. Cool Effect is pricing the credits at $8.15/tonne, with the offsets coming from projects in Massachusetts, Indonesia, and Honduras.
Holy MOF-y – A big advance in carbon capture technology could provide an efficient and inexpensive way for natural gas power plants to remove CO2 from their flue emissions. Developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and ExxonMobil, the new technique uses a highly porous material called a metal-organic framework, or MOF, modified with nitrogen-containing amine molecules to capture the CO2 and low temperature steam to flush out the CO2 for other uses or to sequester it underground. In experiments, the technique showed a 6x greater capacity for removing CO2 from flue gas than current amine-based technology, and it was highly selective, capturing more than 90% of the CO2 emitted. The process uses low temperature steam to regenerate the MOF for repeated use, meaning less energy is required. “For CO2 capture, steam stripping – where you use direct contact with steam to take off the CO2 – has been a sort of holy grail for the field. It is rightly seen as the cheapest way to do it,” said senior UC Berkeley researcher Jeffrey Long. “These materials, at least from the experiments we have done so far, look very promising.” A paper describing the new technique will appear in the July 24 issue of the journal Science. (Phys.org)
And finally… Ammonia ascendant? – Ammonia is a pungent, corrosive, and highly toxic chemical, but by the year 2030 it could provide more than 1% of Japan’s total electricity supply, according to an industry consortium. In an interview with the Financial Times, gas industry executive Shigeru Muraki says the fuel is forging ahead of alternatives, with Japan’s electricity industry planning for commercialisation in the next few years. The push to use ammonia highlights Japan’s plans to import renewable energy from other countries after the 2011 Fukushima disaster led to the shutdown of many nuclear reactors. If successful, it could lead to important changes to global energy markets, with shipments of ammonia replacing coal or natural gas.
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