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Poland’s environment ministry is drafting a law in response to the wild volatility in EU carbon prices it claims is being driven by speculators, with the department’s minister calling for the government to reconsider the country’s participation in the bloc’s ETS and to mull introducing its own domestic market.
Russia is “extremely concerned” about the EU’s plans to introduce a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) to prevent carbon leakage, the country’s economic development minister said on Thursday.
EU carbon prices dropped on Friday following a weaker auction result and amid falling equity markets to end the week down 5.2%.
California regulator ARB’s next rulemaking process for the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) will not start until autumn at the earliest as the agency deals with furloughs, regulatory sources told Carbon Pulse.
Speculators reduced their California Carbon Allowance (CCA) holdings by their largest amount since May, while compliance entities kept their positions mostly flat week-on-week despite rising prices, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data published Friday.
By tweaking the rules in Australia’s offset market, including to allow method stacking, the country could unlock vast offset potential to the tune of 2.5 billion carbon credits over the next decade, according to project developers.
Closing prices, ranges and volumes for China’s regional pilot carbon markets this week.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Resolution unresolved – The US is, for the moment, vetoing a German proposal to the UN Security Council to set up a system to monitor climate change-related conflicts, as droughts and other environmental issues are increasingly being linked to the potential for armed conflicts around the world. While German diplomats indicated they had sufficient support for their draft resolution, the US – one of the UNSC’s permanent five members – made it clear it would oppose it. The 15 members of the UNSC held a videoconference on Friday to discuss the climate-security nexus to maintain international peace. (Clean Energy Wire)
Impaired in Poland – Polish utility Energa reported €200 mln in impairments on its 1GW coal-fired Ostroleka C project due to the earlier decision to scrap it, Montel reports. The state-run utility in May decided not to continue the construction in the country’s northeast due to carbon price increases. Energa announced the write-down in a Warsaw Stock Exchange message late on Thursday. The decision to abandon the project came after more than a year of construction and warnings.
OKD Bye – The Board of Directors of Czech state-owned mining company OKD issued on Wednesday a press release recommending a definitive shutdown of all its mines as early as 2021 or 2022, New Europe reports. OKD is Czechia’s only producer of hard coal, and its five mines provide employment for 8,400 people. The reasons for closure are partly due to OKD’s failure to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak among miners, but also the fact that lower demand saw coal prices plunge by 30% in Czechia during the pandemic. Even though the country is EU’s third-largest coal producer, an earlier than expected phaseout seems to be gathering pace there, as in other EU nations such as Portugal and Spain, Greg McNevin of campaigners Europe Beyond Coal said.
Pump it up – The capacity of pumped storage hydro power stations available to the German energy system is expected to grow by about 1.4 GW by 2030, with roughly a third of the capacity being installed abroad, the German government said in an answer to a parliamentary inquiry by the opposition FDP. According to planning by the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), the capacity will be provided by five new plants, two of which will be built outside of Germany. Regarding storage needs for its target of bringing the renewables share of power consumption to 65% by 2030, the government said it does not have any preferences for technology used for renewable energy storage. There currently are 26 pumped storage hydro power stations in Germany with a total capacity of 6.3 GW and a further 3.4 GW are “regularly” provided from stations abroad. (Clean Energy Wire)
Fake news – Contrary to media reports, German utility Uniper will not be converting its coal plant at the Maasvlakte industrial site to use hydrogen as a feedstock, ICIS reports. A Uniper spokesperson this week told Montel that the company could modify its plant in the Netherlands to handle multiple fuels, including hydrogen, in response to the nation’s plan to phase out coal by 2030. The site is said to offer advantages for potential industrial hydrogen consumers due to its strategic proximity to offshore wind farms and a high voltage grid. Uniper’s hard coal unit Maasvlakte 3 (1,070 MW), in operation since 2015, is one of three new coal plants in the Netherlands that account for around 3.5 GW in total.
Really fake news – An article linking climate change to Earth’s solar orbit went viral last year, racking up 4.2 mln views on social media and widely shared on Facebook. It was the most-engaged with climate story in 2019, according to Brandwatch. There was just one problem: it wasn’t true. Facebook removed the article from Natural News, a far-right conspiracy outlet with 3 mln followers, after it was reported. But the spread of misinformation on the climate crisis by groups who reject climate science continues on Facebook and other social media platforms. (The Independent)
Time for your probe – British MPs plan to scrutinise the government’s green economic plans and industrial strategy to test whether they are still fit for purpose in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, the Guardian reports. The government will face two separate inquiries into its plans, by the Treasury and business department parliamentary select committees, to question whether its existing policies will help or hinder sustainable post-pandemic economic growth. The fresh examination comes following a damning report from parliament’s financial watchdog which accused the government of an “astonishing” failure to plan for the economic impact of a possible flu-like pandemic. The cross-party public accounts committee concluded that government schemes were drawn up “on the hoof” weeks after the COVID outbreak, and that the delay risked leaving sectors of the UK economy behind.
Dog days await? – Massachusetts state Senate and House leaders have begun conversations about continuing past their traditional end-of-July deadline to continue deliberations on weighty bills, including those focused on climate policy. Senate President Karen Spilka (D) on Wednesday outlined a list of priorities, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D) has said he is open to “various scenarios” that involve going into August if necessary. While DeLeo, Spilka, and Governor Charlie Baker (R) all back a goal of net zero emissions by 2050, that target has not been formalised in law. The Massachusetts Senate overwhelmingly passed an omnibus carbon pricing bill in January, but the House has not yet taken action. (WBUR)
The Jersey (Off)Shore – The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) on Wednesday announced plans for a second offshore wind solicitation this fall, ranging between 1.2-2.4 GW of capacity. State regulators scheduled a virtual public meeting to accept input on the draft of the second solicitation on Aug. 5, and the BPU plans to consider the solicitation at its September meeting, accept applications in December, and make a final decision in June 2021. The BPU announcement follows neighbouring New York issuing an offshore wind solicitation for 2.5 GW this week. (Utility Dive)
Marshall matters – Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth (D) introduced the Marshall Plan for Coal Country Act on Thursday. The legislation would provide $15 bln in loans for plants to install carbon capture technology and pipeline infrastructure to carry sequestered carbon to storage facilities. The bill would also expand Medicare to all US coal workers who have lost their jobs, increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, and make higher education free for coal workers and their families. (Politico)
Stern lecture – Coal should play no part in any country’s post-coronavirus stimulus plan and economic recovery should align with global climate goals, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a lecture to Chinese students. “There is no such thing as clean coal, and coal should have no place in any rational recovery plan,” Guterres told an online audience of students and researchers in a lecture organised by Tsinghua University. “It is deeply concerning that new coal power plants are still being planned and financed, even though renewables offer three times more jobs, and are now cheaper than coal in most countries,” he said. China is a major consumer of coal and is still constructing new mines and power projects while also making efforts to develop green energy. (Reuters)
And finally… And so it begins – The great climate migration has begun, reports the New York Times magazine and ProPublica in the first of a new series of interactive articles on the topic. For most of human history, people have lived within a surprisingly narrow range of temperatures, in the places where the climate supported abundant food production. But as the planet warms, it could push areas beyond the climate niche where humans have thrived. While many will dig in, suffering through heat, hunger, and political chaos, others will be forced to move on, and signs show people are already beginning to flee. In Southeast Asia, where increasingly unpredictable monsoon rainfall and drought have made farming more difficult, the World Bank points to more than 8 mln people who have moved toward the Middle East, Europe, and North America. In the African Sahel, millions of rural people have been streaming toward the coasts and the cities amid drought and widespread crop failures. Should the flight away from hot climates reach the scale that current research suggests is likely, it will amount to a vast remapping of the world’s populations. (Carbon Brief)
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