CP Daily: Friday September 18, 2020

Published 01:56 on September 19, 2020  /  Last updated at 02:10 on September 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 nations phasing out coal power “sooner than expected” -Commission

Coal power phaseout plans by EU member states have accelerated in the past few months to suggest that the fuel’s share of the bloc’s electricity mix may decline by more than two-thirds over the 15 years to 2030, according to a European Commission assessment of the 27 nations’ climate plans.

ASIA PACIFIC

Volumes rise at Australia ERF auction, but prices see slight drop

Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund committed to buy more carbon credits than at any sale since Dec. 2017 at its auction last week, though the price came down somewhat from the record level at the March event, Clean Energy Regulator data showed Friday.

Top economist says South Australia should join California ETS

The state of South Australia should seek to join California’s emissions trading scheme or form a domestic carbon market in order to generate and sell offsets from greenhouse gases stored in soil or water, one of the nation’s most prominent economists has recommended in a government-commissioned report.

Carbon neutral LNG faces uphill battle in China, gas distributor says

The recent failure to fetch any premium at China’s first-ever carbon neutral LNG auction shows market appetite is still low, but upstream suppliers can help by improving their information disclosure, according to a report released by a state-owned gas distributor.

CN Markets: Pilot market data for week ending Sep. 18, 2020

Closing prices, ranges and volumes for China’s regional pilot carbon markets this week.

AMERICAS

November WCI current auction to offer 56.4 mln allowances

The Q4 California-Quebec carbon auction will feature 56.4 mln current permits in the final WCI quarterly sale of the year, slightly more than previous estimates due to the inclusion of some past vintage units.

Compliance entities part with California carbon allowances again as financials build holdings

Emitters continued to reduce their California Carbon Allowance (CCA) holdings this week as prices rose on the secondary market, while speculators added to their collective position, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data published Friday.

PJM states should opt for carbon pricing over state-led RPS programmes -market monitor

Members of the US’ PJM power grid should choose CO2 pricing mechanisms like RGGI to lower emissions and generate revenue, rather than relying on inconsistent and expensive Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and subsidies to do the job, the regional transmission organisation’s market monitor said Friday.

Brazil finalises lower RenovaBio targets as biofuel credit trade picks up

The Brazilian National Energy Policy Council (CNPE) has officially slashed the 2020 targets for the country’s RenovaBio programme in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the government’s decision spurring an increase in carbon credit trade under the biofuels market.

EMEA

EU Market: EUAs fade after weak auction for 1% weekly loss

EUAs fell to a one-week low below €28 on Friday after a weak auction exacerbated the bearish ‘fact-selling’ mood following this week’s release of Brussels’ long-awaited climate plan.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

B aggressive – The B20, the official voice of the business community across the G20, and the IEA on Friday issued a statement to call on leaders from the world’s leading economies to accelerate clean energy transitions for a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The joint statement recommends specific and pragmatic policy options that could spur the much-needed investment cycle. This includes accelerating the deployment of existing low-emissions and emissions-neutral technologies and innovation in areas such as hydrogen, batteries, and CCUS, implementing energy pricing and tax reforms with revenues slated for a just transition, and securing energy systems and providing access to affordable and uninterrupted flow of clean energy for all.

Inverse relationship – The prospect of an “inverse OPEC” to tackle climate change came a step closer when Kamala Harris was appointed running mate to US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. In her climate platform, while contending for the top job herself, Harris proposed a meeting of major emitters in early 2021 to kick off “the first-ever global negotiation of the cooperative managed decline of fossil fuel production”. Under Biden, the climate summit is set to go ahead with the less confrontational goal of persuading others to make “more ambitious national pledges”. While described in Harris’s platform as a “global negotiation”, the idea as laid out in a blog post by her advisor Aimee Barnes – who came up with the “inverse OPEC” tag (CEPO?) – is not to replicate the mammoth diplomatic mission of the Paris Agreement. Rather, it would start with a “minilateral” of leading countries and build out. (Climate Home)

Billions from the billionaire – President Donald Trump administration’s scuttling or weakening of key Obama-era climate policies could add 1.8 bln tonnes of CO2e to the atmosphere by 2035, a new analysis concludes. The Rhodium Group looked at several different Trump-led policies in their study, including the decision to weaken Obama-era vehicle mileage and CO2 standards through the mid-2020s, stripping California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act to impose tailpipe CO2 rules that a number of other states follow, and easing regulation of methane gases from oil-and-gas development. Rhodium found the cumulative impact is equivalent to nearly one-third of all US emissions in 2019, though they still put the country’s GHG output in 2035 lower than it is today, albeit a much smaller reduction than would have occurred absent the rollbacks. (Axios)

Penn and stellar – A poll released Thursday found 72% of Pennsylvania voters support the state’s participation in the Northeast US RGGI carbon market. The result comes days after the state’s Environmental Quality Board approved draft regulations to implement a power sector carbon market and a week after the GOP-led legislature passed a law trying to block the move. The survey, conducted by Climate Nexus, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, found 56% of Pennsylvanians are more likely to vote for a state representative who supports the state participating in RGGI, while only 20% report being less likely to vote for a representative supporting RGGI. Separately, emails obtained by the environmental watchdog group Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) through records requests and shared with DeSmog, reveal a coordinated, behind-the-scenes effort to stop RGGI in Pennsylvania coming from both out-of-state and in-state fossil fuel interests, such as coal businesses and fossil fuel lobbying firms and advocacy coalitions. Together, these interests broadly representing coal and petroleum producers are trying to prevent Pennsylvania from joining regional programmes to curb carbon pollution like RGGI and the proposed Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) cap-and-invest system for on-road gasoline and diesel emissions. (PA Environment Digest Blog)

Hygge electrification – Nordic nations Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden would have to generate another 290 TWh of electricity, an increase of 75% from current levels, to meet the additional demand for power if they become carbon neutral, a study commissioned by Finnish utility Fortum showed. The analysis expects 70% of the new capacity to come from onshore wind farms, 20% from offshore wind, and 10% from solar power. The biggest challenge would be to decarbonise sectors such as shipping and aviation, as well as the nations’ heavy industries, Sigurd Naess-Schmidt, one of the study authors, told a webinar. All of this would require a firm price for EUAs, ideally supported by a price floor, the study added. (EurActiv)

Hugely challenging – The EU’s strengthened 2030 emissions reduction target will make carbon pricing more expensive, denting the competitiveness of energy-intensive industries like chemicals, and therefore its cost should be shared among all economic sectors, according to the director general at chemical manufacturers trade group Cefic. In a written response to ICIS, Marco Mensink said the EU’s Green Deal is a “hugely challenging” enterprise for chemicals, arguing a “careful balance” has to be struck so European industry is not negatively affected by policies derived from the recently approved Green Deal. For European chemicals to remain competitive, compared with other large producers like the US, where feedstocks and energy costs are cheaper, or China, where regulatory burdens are less strict, the EU should make all economic sectors share the burden of carbon costs, he said. “[The EU should be] Striking a balance where not only industry but all sectors of society carry their weight in emissions reductions [and that] will bring us the time to innovate and create the markets and demand for our products,” Mensink added.

Can’t stop, won’t stop – A large majority of Germans and the country’s eastern states oppose an exit from the controversial Kremlin-backed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline following the poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. In a poll by public broadcaster ZDF, 67% of respondents said Germany should not exit the project, while only 20% were in favour of doing so. Stopping construction and abandoning the project were not “adequate reactions” to the attempt on the life of the Putin critic, according to heads of the country’s eastern states. Germany is increasingly under pressure to drop the gas project, with EU lawmakers and renowned foreign policy experts alike calling for its halt. (Clean Energy Wire)

Striking lithium – Cornwall could emerge as a key region for the UK’s growing green economy after mining firm Cornish Lithium Ltd claims to have found “globally significant” grades of lithium, a key component in battery technology for electric vehicles and energy storage systems, in the county. The company has recently secured government funding in support of a lithium extraction project. (BusinessGreen)

Soil certainty – Australian company Carbon Asset Solutions (CAS) this week announced it has achieved a breakthrough in technology for measuring soil carbon with Auburn University in Alabama. In a press release, CAS said the technology developed by Auburn measures soil carbon via a mobile scanning process, providing a real time determination of CO2 in a field with a precision that is 10,000 times better than traditional soil core sampling technology. The company added the technology means carbon credits created by farmers switching their practices to regenerative agriculture will become more acceptable in offset markets due to the accuracy of baseline and accumulative audits.

And finally… NOAA’s Arc – The Trump administration’s decision to install David Legates, an academic and a climate science denier, atop the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has blind-sided staffers and worried scientists that the decision to create his new position may signal that the administration will seek to influence the bedrock science that the agency performs. The hire comes as the federal government’s fifth National Climate Assessment is at “a critical formative stage,” an administration official told Politico, with NOAA serving as the lead for the quadrennial 13-agency, cross-government review of climate change that conveys the sources and effects of climate on every corner of the country. NOAA this summer began the public input process for shaping the sweeping report, such as selecting the authors who will guide its scope and direction, and the White House Presidential Personnel Office began interviewing candidates this summer for the role that Legates secured around the same time. That the White House was so involved in the process and seemingly favoured candidates largely dismissive of the scientific literature has worried scientists that NOAA may be next for political meddling in everything from climate observations to data informing local flood control managers how to improve resilience to rising seas and storms. The news earned the ire of Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Friday.

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