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New Zealand ETS participants used the NZ$25 fixed price option to meet around 21% of their total compliance obligations for 2019, EPA data showed Thursday, down from 51% the previous year and indicating a drop in surplus allowances carried into the next year.
The Spanish government on Thursday approved the closure of three more coal-fired power plants through 2022, slashing further the country’s coal capacity that has been in steady decline over recent months.
EUAs lost 2% on Thursday amid technical weakness and fading oil and equities, as concerns mounted about carbon’s lack of resilience ahead of full-sized sales resuming in earnest over the autumn.
Germany-based utility RWE saw its ETS-covered thermal output drop by almost a third in H1, it said in quarterly financial results on Thursday, matching an EU-wide trend of big-emitting generators bearing the brunt of the coronavirus-linked demand drop.
RGGI allowance (RGA) prices rose on additional secondary market compliance buying this week, as California Carbon Allowance (CCA) values nudged higher ahead of the Aug. 18 WCI auction.
Carbon emissions across Pennsylvania and the eastern half of the US would decline if the Keystone State were to join the RGGI ETS in 2022 under its proposed cap level, according to a study published Thursday.
Income from the sale of Brazilian biofuel credits under the country’s RenovaBio programme will face a much lower tax rate after lawmakers on Wednesday quashed a veto by President Jair Bolsonaro.
The Shanghai municipal government will auction 2 million allowances for its emissions trading scheme before the end of the month, allowing speculators to participate for the first time after dismal sales to compliance entities in previous years.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Sustainable spots – The London Metal Exchange on Thursday outlined plans to support sustainable metal production with a spot trading platform for low-carbon aluminium and a register where producers can voluntarily log their metal’s carbon-related details. The LME will eventually look at other metals, but will start with aluminium because power is a major component – sometimes up to 40% – in the smelting process. Although energy-intensive, aluminium is vital for the transition to a lower-carbon economy, including in the auto sector where it is valued for being lighter than steel and infinitely recyclable. The platform and the register are expected to launch in the first half of 2021. (Reuters)
Coal comeback – The UK’s National Grid has fired up a coal-fired power station for the first time in 55 days after a record-breaking heatwave brought wind turbines to a near-standstill and caused gas-fired power stations to struggle. The electricity system operator brought Britain’s latest coal-free streak to an end by calling for the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire to begin generating electricity before a peak in electricity demand. Electricity supplies have become tighter than expected during the heatwave because gas-fired power stations have struggled to generate electricity at their maximum capacity owing to the unusually high temperatures, while at the same time wind turbines have slowed because of low wind speeds. A string of power stations were unable to produce electricity on Wednesday because of planned maintenance work that often takes place during the summer, while available gas plants produced less electricity than usual owing to the heat. (The Guardian)
Bail-out battle – Campaign group Plan B is poised to file court action in the UK claiming the government has failed to take into account climate obligations when bailing out COVID-hit firms. The government has defended its decision to hand billions in financial support to struggling carbon-intensive companies in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, amid accusations it “ignored” the ramifications of these bailouts for the UK’s legally-binding net zero emissions target and Paris Agreement climate obligations. Campaign group Plan B claims the “reckless” bailouts, which saw firms such as RyanAir, EasyJet, Rolls Royce, and Nissan secure public loans to support them as demand slumped following the introduction of lockdown conditions, did not come with explicit ‘green strings’ attached to incentivise corporate decarbonisation efforts, and therefore risk locking the UK into a high-carbon economic recovery. (BusinessGreen)
Reset request – Six former US EPA chiefs who served in Republican and Democratic administrations signed an open letter Wednesday calling for a “reset” of the agency after November’s presidential election. The letter from the bipartisan Environmental Protection Network, comprising over 500 former EPA senior managers and employees, expresses concern about “the current state of affairs at EPA,” without naming President Donald Trump, whose administration has rolled back several Obama-era environmental protections. “As EPA approaches its 50th anniversary this December, we believe the time has come to reset the future course for EPA in a new, forward-looking direction to address the environmental challenges we face today and those that lie ahead,” the letter said. (Axios)
Revisiting hours – The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will not revisiti its May ruling sending a climate change lawsuit brought against oil companies by San Francisco and Oakland back to state courts. The companies requested a rehearing, and the Trump administration last week filed a brief in the suit urging the court to reconsider and allow the oil companies to remove the suit to federal courts, where it likely would be blocked. But the court on Wednesday denied the request, and said none of the circuit’s judges asked to vote on an en banc hearing. The only remaining appeal option is the Supreme Court, where the companies have until January to seek review. However, the high court will decide this fall whether to take a similar climate change lawsuit jurisdiction case out of Baltimore that will be a bellwether for cases like this one. (Politico)
JetBlue grew – US air carrier JetBlue’s Scope 1-3 emissions grew by 4.3% in 2019 to 10.5 Mt, according to the company’s ESG report published Thursday. In an accompanying press release, JetBlue confirmed that it began its climate pledge from earlier this year to offset all domestic air travel from July, as well as launching its sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) programme on flights from San Francisco. The New-York based company estimates that it will offset 7-8 Mt annually, with an initial focus on landfill gas, forestry, and solar and wind projects sourced through its three credit partners.
Launching off – Offset programme provider XO is now offering flight passengers the option of purchasing carbon credits from three schemes run by climate action project developer South Pole. The three projects are certified with the widely used Gold Standard or VCS ratings: The Mamize efficient cookstoves project improves community health and protects panda habitat in rural China, the InfraVest Tongyuan Wind Power initiative supports Taiwan’s clean energy transition, and the Kariba forest protection project addresses deforestation and fosters sustainable livelihoods in Zimbabwe.
You hate to IPCC it – Most of a blockbuster UN scientific report on climate change is likely to be delayed beyond the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next November because of COVID-19. The three parts of the report by the scientific body IPCC and the main guide to policymakers around the world had originally been due in 2021 in an update of the last global assessment completed in 2014. On current plans, however, only the first section of the report about the science of global warming, including scenarios for temperatures and sea level rise, is now expected to be issued before the UK-hosted conference as timetables slip, IPCC sources told Climate Home. The other two main sections – about the impacts of climate change and ways to curb GHGs – will not be published before the summit because of a series of delays to author meetings and scientific research caused by the pandemic. That will also delay a final synthesis report, tying up work by the three working groups due in 2022.
Drill, baby, drill – Speaking to the Texas Oil & Gas Association in July, Chevron CEO Mike Wirth assured his audience that the global clamour for clean energy “doesn’t mean the end of oil and gas.” On the contrary, Wirth said, the energy business is simply undergoing another of its natural transitions. “We’ll find ways to make oil and gas more efficient, more environmentally benign,” he said. “And it will be a part of the mix, just as biomass and coal are still enormous parts of the mix today.” To activists alarmed at the urgency of the climate crisis, Wirth’s comments are as out of touch as they are predictable, coming from someone who profits from the status quo. For unlike its rivals in Europe, Chevron is betting its future less on renewable energies such as wind and solar and more on the subterranean stuff derived from hydrocarbons. According to Bloomberg, it’s a multibillion-dollar gamble that would have been even less surprising before the coronavirus reared its spiky head. By eviscerating demand for petroleum products when business and consumer activity suddenly slowed, Covid-19 has shown the world’s biggest oil and gas companies a vision of a bleak future in which they’re neither wanted nor needed. A chastened BP responded on Aug. 4 by announcing dramatic steps to address climate change, including an unexpected vow to reduce oil and gas production 40% over the next decade; CEO Bernard Looney said the strategy was “amplified by Covid.” In sharp contrast, Exxon Mobil has reiterated its commitment to being oil’s last man standing decades from now. Chevron, for all of Wirth’s prognosticating about crude’s bright future, is pursuing a more nuanced path that embraces something frequently alien to Big Oil: flexibility.
And finally… Antarctic alternative – Australians currently unable to fly internationally due to COVID-19 restrictions will soon be given a “Bali Alternative’ on day trips to see Antarctica from the sky. The privately chartered flights, operated by Antarctica Flights in conjunction with national carrier Qantas, will run from five Australian cities from November. The 12-13 hour round trip flight, which Antarctica Flights has operated since 2015, is considered domestic since the plane does not touch down until returning to Australia, allowing passengers views of the polar continent for approximately one-third of the journey. Antarctica Flights also offsets all air travel emissions from the trips through consultancy Carbon Neutral, with the Gold Standard-certified credits contributing to Australian Native Reforestation project in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor. (D’Marge)
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