CP Daily: Wednesday September 16, 2020

Published 02:55 on September 17, 2020  /  Last updated at 02:55 on September 17, 2020  /  Newsletter  /  No Comments

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

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TOP STORY

European Commission president confirms “at least 55%” 2030 climate target

The European Commission is set to propose an upgraded 2030 target of at least 55% below 1990 levels, the EU executive’s president told EU lawmakers on Wednesday.

VOLUNTARY

ANALYSIS: Standard opens door to voluntary offset use for company net zero goals

A popular corporate standard for net zero emissions goals has relaxed its previously hard line against the use of carbon credits, in a move that may fuel further growth in the voluntary offset market.

ASIA PACIFIC

China shows openness to firmer long-term climate commitments

China is willing to contribute more on climate change and is studying carbon neutrality as part of a long-term strategy, according to a comment by a foreign ministry spokesman that was enthusiastically welcomed internationally but met with scepticism by domestic observers.

New Japanese PM Suga expected to stick close to predecessor’s climate line

Yoshihide Suga was sworn in as Japan’s new prime minister on Wednesday, and is expected to follow in predecessor Shinzo Abe’s footsteps on energy and climate issues after confirming the ministers for those portfolios will remain in their roles.

AMERICAS

Oregon Democrats will drop WCI-modelled carbon market bill from 2021 agenda

Oregon Democrats will not attempt to pass a WCI-modelled cap-and-trade bill during the 2021 lawmaking session after two consecutive GOP walkouts thwarted action on ETS proposals, a legislator told Carbon Pulse.

California’s IEMAC calls for rigid ETS supply adjustment mechanism

Any allowance supply adjustment to California’s cap-and-trade scheme should be permanent or placed at a higher price tier, while the coronavirus pandemic may necessitate further evaluations of the WCI-linked scheme’s allocation methodologies, the state’s carbon market watchdog said Wednesday.

TCI jurisdictions may base fuel sector ETS cost containment sizes on RGGI

The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is looking at adopting the same reserve sizes for two cost containment mechanisms under the RGGI ETS for its proposed fuel sector cap-and-invest programme in the US Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, a state official said Wednesday.

US conservation group, developers launch voluntary offset pilot for land trusts

A conservation organisation and two US-based offset project developers on Wednesday announced a five-year pilot programme for land trusts to access voluntary carbon markets, with a focus on forestry and grasslands initiatives.

EMEA

EU Parliament backs financing gas investments via €17.5 bln Just Transition Fund

The European Parliament adopted an amendment on Wednesday that could make gas infrastructure investments eligible under the bloc’s Just Transition Fund (JTF), taking a laxer line than member states despite deep cross-party divisions.

Polish utility PGE to aim for zero emissions in 2050

Polish utility PGE, owner of the EU ETS’ most polluting installation, aims to have a fully green energy portfolio by 2050, its CEO announced Wednesday, in a move outpacing government climate efforts.

EU Market: EUAs stick near €30 as Brussels confirms higher climate ambition, funds pile into market

EUAs stayed near €30 for a third straight session on Wednesday, after the European Commission confirmed its proposals for higher EU climate ambition and data showed a record number of investment funds piling into the market.

EUA prices could reach €51 by 2030 under EU’s proposed climate target -analysts

EUA prices could rise as high as €51 by 2030 under the “at least 55%” emissions target to be proposed by the European Commission, as the carbon market cap would tighten considerably, analysts said Wednesday.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Coal continues – The South African cabinet has approved a Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS), including a goal to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, but the country still plans to burn coal by this date. The strategy forecasts the use of 5 GW of coal power to be operating in 2050, with two new plants under construction and another 1 GW expected to come online by 2030. (Climate Home)

Removing doubt – Reinsurance giant Swiss Re is stepping up its push towards net zero emissions by 2030. Its current internal carbon price will rise to $100/tonne in 2021 from $8 presently, with further increases to $200 by 2030. The price will be used to fund compensation of residual operational emissions via carbon removal projects. In addition, the company aims to curb its flight emissions with a CO2 reduction goal of 30% by 2021. Consultancy PwC has also announced a 2030 net zero commitment, aiming to reduce its total GHG emissions by 50% in absolute terms by that year and neutralise its remaining climate impact by investing in carbon removal projects. (Insurance Business)

Harbouring doubt – A large majority of Germans harbours little hope that the EU can reach its target of becoming the globe’s first climate-neutral continent by 050. Only 17% of people in Germany believe it is “very probable” or “quite probable” the EU will reach its objective, compared to 72% who think it’s “quite unlikely” or even “very unlikely,” according to a survey conducted by pollster Civey and commissioned by Spiegel. The remaining 11% were undecided. The poll also reveals that people supporting the current government coalition parties are more optimistic that the target can be reached. More than 22% of people backing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and more than 25% of people supporting the Social Democrats (SPD) said it was probable the EU can reach climate-neutrality by 2050. “In contrast, only about 16% of Green sympathisers consider it likely that the goal will be achieved. For the [pro-business] FDP, the figure is around 14%. For the Left and the [right-wing] AfD, the proportion is in the single-digit percentage range,” the article states. The survey found little differences between age groups. (Clean Energy Wire)

Transition tally – In its net zero 2050 pathway released Wednesday, the Energy Transitions Commission said clean power provision must be ramped up at a pace nearly six times higher than currently. The ETC, which includes senior executives from oil majors BP and Shell, said there should be “no permanent reliance” on negative emissions technologies to achieve net zero, calling instead for increased energy efficiency and removing fossil fuel subsidies. It estimated that added investment to implement its plan would be $1-2 trillion annually, around 1-1.5% of global GDP. (AFP)

Gather round – The Business Roundtable, a major trade association that claims some of the largest and most influential firms in the US as members and $7 trillion in annual revenues, endorsed a market-based mechanism to curb GHG emissions on Wednesday. The group did not recommend any particular policy design, simply saying that “a clear price signal is the most important consideration for encouraging innovation, driving efficiency, and ensuring sustained environmental and economic effectiveness.” Among the Roundtable’s dozens of members are the heads of companies that are major CO2 emitters, including Nick Akins of utility giant American Electric Power, Lynn Good of Duke Energy, Chevron CEO and Chairman Mike Wirth, ConocoPhillips chief Ryan Lance, and ExxonMobil boss Darren Woods. (Politico)

Fire first – Giant fires are releasing unprecedented amounts of CO2 and particulate matter pollution into the atmosphere in California, Oregon, and Washington state, leading to the first increase in wildfire emissions in the US since 2015, according to Europe’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS). The fires emitted an estimated 79.6 Mt of CO2 in California this year through Sep.14, and spewed 26.8 Mt in Oregon and 5.1 Mt in Washington. Wildfire emissions in 2020 for the whole of the US reached 200 Mt, already 28% higher than all of 2019. Think-tank WRI also found that emissions from fires in the three West Coast states were at least three times higher than average daily emissions for each jurisdiction, and that in California, the worst days of wildfires have generated emissions 400-800% higher than the average daily GHG output from all economic activity across the state. (Bloomberg)

You hate to PG&E it – A mistake by utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) led to rolling blackouts during California’s extreme heatwave last month, as the company admitted it sent a wrong message to one of its power plants. On Aug. 15, PG&E accidentally told a 400MW gas-powered electricity plant to reduce its power output, instead of directing a different power plant to increase its power output to relieve the immense strain on the grid due to an extreme heatwave. PG&E told the San Francisco Chronicle the mistake amounted to just “roughly 0.5%” of the nearly 45 GW of demand on the grid at the time. That 0.5%, however, created a shortfall sufficient to cause rolling blackouts for as many as 2 mln Californians. The PG&E admission that its mistake led to the August blackouts is consistent with grid operators’ statements that California’s commitment to clean energy did not cause the rolling blackouts. (Climate Nexus)

And finally… But you love to sea(weed) it – Off the coast of Portland, Maine, an aquaculture start-up that raises shellfish is also working on a more radical project: growing kelp in the open ocean, then sinking it to the seafloor to sequester the CO2 absorbed. The company, called Running Tide, argues that the approach could be essentially a permanent way to deal with the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Like trees, seaweed forests suck in carbon from the air as they grow. But while carbon in forests on land can sometimes be lost—as in California, where more than 2 mln acres (809,000 ha) of trees have burned so far this year – kelp that sinks to the bottom of the ocean can stay there for centuries. Tech company Shopify selected Running Tide in its first round of sustainability solution investments this week, with the start-up planning to use the new funds to launch a pilot project later this year. (Fast Company)

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