CP Daily: Wednesday August 19, 2020

Published 23:01 on August 19, 2020  /  Last updated at 23:01 on August 19, 2020  /  Newsletter  /  No Comments

A daily summary of our news plus bite-sized updates from around the world.

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TOP STORY

EU ETS suffers registry outage, temporarily preventing trade in carbon units

The EU’s carbon market has been hit by technical issues this week, including a server outage on Wednesday that was preventing participants from accessing their registry accounts or processing allowance transactions.

EMEA

Fortum’s rapid decarbonisation puts Russian assets in crosshairs

Finnish utility Fortum’s climate plans are coming under scrutiny as its Uniper acquisition puts it among the EU’s biggest emitters, while its Russian assets represent an ever-greater share of its carbon footprint.

Emission cuts from UK climate finance jumps as big project added -govt report

The UK has financed 39 climate projects in developing countries that resulted in 31 Mt of CO2e reduced or avoided over 2011-2020, the government said in a report on Wednesday, a rate of abatement eclipsed by emissions growth that campaigners say is a result of its fossil fuel funding.

EU Market: EUAs slip back towards €26 as registry outage hits ETS

EUAs rose towards €27 early on Wednesday on strong demand at the bumper UK auction, but failed to hold on to the gains amid news of a bloc-wide emissions registry outage.

AMERICAS

California offset prices remain below historic levels ahead of interim compliance deadline

California Carbon Offset (CCO) values are holding significantly below historic trends as low allowance prices and reduced emissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic cut into compliance demand, market participants said.

California ETS watchdog aims to release design recommendations in October

The California Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee (IEMAC) will publish its annual report this fall that is likely to provide state regulator ARB with additional suggestions on how to grapple with the allowance glut in its WCI-linked cap-and-trade programme.

RFS Market: RIN prices seesaw following Trump comments on biofuel waivers

US biofuel credits (RINs) briefly rallied on Wednesday morning after President Donald Trump said he will speak to EPA officials regarding refiners’ applications for retroactive “gap filling” compliance waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Vanishing act? – US Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden for president during the party’s virtual convention on Tuesday, though controversy is emerging regarding the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) climate policy. HuffPost reported that the DNC this week quietly dropped language calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks from the party platform. On July 27, officials added an amendment to the Manager’s Mark, a ledger of party demands voted on as one omnibus package, stating: “Democrats support eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels, and will fight to defend and extend tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy.” The amendment was approved. But the statement, which reflects pledges Biden and his runningmate Kamala Harris each made on the campaign trail, disappeared from the final draft of the party platform circulated Monday. A DNC spokesperson said the amendment was incorrectly included in the Manager’s Mark and taken out after the error was discovered, though activists accused the DNC of retroactively removing the amendment from the final draft of the platform. The kerfuffle led Biden’s policy director to tweet on Wednesday that the former vice president “continues to be committed to ending US fossil fuel subsidies and then rallying the rest of the world to do the same — as was outlined in his climate plan last year”. Separately, Biden has raised more than $15 mln in contributions from “hundreds of new donors who specifically identify with climate change as a cause,” according to the New York Times. The paper notes that climate-specific fundraising may make up about 5% of the total raised by Biden so far, representing a “counterweight” to oil, gas, and coal money, although these donation are still dwarfed by fossil fuel donations to President Donald Trump.

Thanks to COVID? – A German environment ministry report released on Wednesday said that Germany will likely hit its 2020 emissions reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels, contrary to what pre-pandemic forecasts suggested. However, without the effects from the coronavirus crisis, the additional climate action measures introduced over the past years to close a projected gap of several MtCO2e would have been insufficient. “The gap that was projected before the pandemic started could not be closed with these,” the report stated. The report also acknowledged that, “with significantly higher allowance prices, EU emissions trading makes a higher contribution to reducing emissions than expected six months ago”. The report confirmed what an increasing number of think-tanks are predicting regarding the 2020 target. (Clean Energy Wire)

It’s the principle of the thing – Principles for Responsible Investment – a UN-backed coalition of investors managing nearly $100 trillion in assets – wants Congress and US regulators to take more aggressive action to prevent climate change from harming investments. In a letter shared with Politico, the coalition said large pension funds and asset managers should call on US lawmakers and regulators to clearly state a national goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, neutralising power grid emissions by 2035, and banning the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles in cars by 2035 and trucks by 2045.

Roll with it – The rolling blackouts implemented in California over the weekend in response to a record-breaking heatwave highlight the need to expand renewable energy and battery storage, the head of the state’s grid operator said. Steve Berberich, CEO of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), told reporters that moving toward clean electricity sources had created challenges for reliability but was adamant that wind and solar were not to blame for the blackouts. If anything, he said, the state should invest in more renewables backed by “extensive deployment of batteries.” Commenting on the weekend’s blackouts, Michael Wara, director of Stanford University’s climate and energy programme and member of the California Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost and Recovery, told Politico “the timing of all this strongly suggests problems with gas plants”. (Climate Nexus)

Battery is found in me – Grid infrastructure developer LS Power has begun operating the largest grid battery in the world, the company announced Wednesday. The Gateway Energy Storage project in southern California launched earlier this summer with an initial tranche of 62.5 MWh, but LS Power said the initiative can now charge or discharge 230 MW for one hour, and is expected to rise to 250 MWh by the end of the month. Batteries played a clear role in meeting the peak demand between 1800-2000 Pacific time during California’s heatwave-fuelled blackouts on Friday, according to CAISO data, though the available batteries only got up to around 140 MW, not nearly enough to avoid rotating outages that evening. (Greentech Media)

Cross-border capture collaboration – Houston-based Occidental Petroleum has teamed up with Rusheen Capital Management to advance plans by Canada-based Carbon Engineering to build a direct air capture plant in the Permian Basin, and eventually facilities elsewhere. Occidental subsidiary Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and Rusheen, a private equity firm, have formed a company called 1PointFive to “finance and deploy” Carbon Engineering’s DAC technology in the US. The new venture is a step toward building a plant that the companies say would be the world’s largest direct air capture facility, with the capacity to remove up to 1 Mt of atmospheric CO2 annually. (Axios)

Somewhere under the sea – Up to 15% of the UK’s North Sea platforms could be reused for CCS technology, according to new analysis from BCG. The report said the figures “would be more than enough to cover all CO2 storage targets until 2050” for the UK, which is aiming to reach net zero within that timeframe. The UK needs to store between 60-180 MtCO2e per year by 2050 in order to meet the target under the Climate Change Act. However, the lead analysts at BCG warned it is “not realistic” that the UK would actually use the full 15%, and “should be cautious since we are not sure how the technology costs and commerciality will evolve”. The UK’s climate ministry BEIS this week said it favoured a contract for different scheme to support CCUS deployment. (Energy Voice)

Chip in for fuel? – Airlines including SAS and Lufthansa are offering passengers the option to offset emissions from flights with contributions to the cost of using sustainable fuel, FT reports. According to the paper, passengers may soon “not have the luxury of choosing to pay more”, as last week the European Commission signalled it was considering an “EU-wide requirement for a minimum amount of sustainable fuel on all flights”. (Carbon Brief)

Ain’t saying she’s a coal digger – German energy firm RWE is auctioning off a mammoth coal digger known as a bucket wheel excavator, WirtschaftsWoche writes. The “Bagger 275” machine, which is 38 metres high and weighs some 3,500 tonnes, is available for purchase through the Hamburg auction house Wilhelm Dechow. The machines are used in open-cast lignite mining, such as the Garzweiler mine in North Rhine-Westphalia. The digger, built by Krupp in 1959, is capable of clearing 60,000 cubic metres per day, the report states. It is being put up for sale in the auction, which will run until the end of September, as part of its decommissioning. Separately, RWE on Tuesday launched a €2-billion share issuance to finance its low-carbon investment drive, including its purchase of wind turbine maker Nordex’s project development pipeline and renewables initiatives in the US.

And finally… Well-oiled machine – Fossil fuel lobby American Petroleum Institute (API) is spending millions to influence the upcoming US election, Reuters reports. The spending includes a focus on social media ads targeted toward 25-to-34 year-olds worried about how much natural gas is driving climate change. API’s Facebook spending alone shot up six-fold after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced a $2 trillion plan to transition the American economy away from fossil fuels including natural gas. API is also concerned President Donald Trump administration’s recent rollbacks of methane regulations and leak detection requirements will undo its multi-year, multi-million-dollar efforts to promote gas as a clean source of energy. (Climate Nexus)

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