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China will strengthen its climate policies, strive to peak its emissions before 2030, and become carbon neutral before 2060, President Xi Jinping told the UN General Assembly Tuesday, in a surprise move that signals a significant step-up in climate ambition for the world’s biggest emitter.
Three conservative-led Canadian provinces argued before the country’s highest court on Tuesday that the federal government lacks Constitutional authority to impose its ‘backstop’ CO2 levy and output-based pricing system (OBPS) on recalcitrant jurisdictions, while Ottawa and British Columbia contended that climate change is a matter of national concern that necessitates minimum national standards of GHG pricing.
California fuel consumption continued to skew towards historic norms in July after hitting record lows in April during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but though the rate of increase has eased, according to federal data released this week.
The 12th new speculator of the year opened a RGGI CO2 Allowance Tracking System (COATS) account this week, continuing the flood of financial entities into the Northeast US power sector carbon market in 2020.
EU carbon prices to double on raised 2030 climate target, €100 possible from other reforms -analysts
EU carbon prices will average €57 over the next decade, or double current prices, analysts forecast, modelling a scenario where the bloc adopts a 55% emissions reduction target for 2030 and does not implement any other supply-tightening changes.
EU carbon prices fell to a one-month low on Tuesday, defying a stronger auction and reversals in wider markets, before sharply rebounding to surge by more than €2 from the day’s low on what traders said was a mix of compliance buying and speculative short-covering.
The European Commission proposed an upgrade to its air traffic management framework on Tuesday, aiming to overcome many failed attempts and to cut the sector’s emissions by 10%.
Australia on Tuesday outlined a plan to invest around A$18 billion ($13 bln) over the next decade in five technologies it says will drive GHG emissions cuts, but Energy Minister Angus Taylor refused to consider increasing the nation’s emissions targets.
Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator last week issued over 520,000 new carbon credits, after doling out just a total 30,000 over the previous two weeks amid ERF auction preparations.
A South Korean firm has struck a rare deal with a Chinese petrochemical group, a move that will see the two launch a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project to generate carbon credits eventually eligible for compliance use in the South Korean emissions trading scheme.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
How to spend it – Germany’s federal budget draft shows spending on the Energy and Climate Fund (EKF) tripling in 2021 to nearly €27 bln, Tagesspiegel Background reports. In 2022, EKF spending drops to €25 bln, with further drops to €21 bln in the next two years. Most of the new expenditures come from lowering the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) surcharge for consumers using federal funds, but there is also substantial support for green buildings and transport. The building sector, the second largest item, will rise to €6 bln in 2021, up from €3.5 bln this year. Transport spending will grow to €5.5 bln from €1.9 bln this year. On the income side, Germany’s new domestic CO2 pricing scheme for transport and buildings, which is due to start next year, should bring in €7.4 bln in 2021, rising to €9 bln in 2022 and then €10.5 bln and €12.9 bln in the following years as the price per tonne increases annually, the report notes. The cabinet is set to approve the draft budget on Wednesday. The fund was increased this year as part of the government’s economic stimulus programme to carry out a green recovery from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Separately, Germany’s government plans to offer companies with high energy consumption relief on the country’s new CO2 charge, a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday showed. According to the paper, companies that compete internationally cannot pass the costs of the levy on oil, gas, or coal on to customers by raising prices so should be partially reimbursed. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet is due to approve the plan on Wednesday. This would mostly affect firms in the chemical, steel, or auto sectors. Government sources told Reuters the compensation would amount to several hundred million euros per year. (Clean Energy Wire)
High hopes – German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier on Monday said he still believes ratification of an EU trade deal with South America is possible despite European anger over deforestation in Brazil. The pact was agreed in principle last year after two decades of wrangling, but France has to set out demands for ratification to proceed, which would crucially include respecting the targets of the Paris Agreement on fighting climate change. French President Emmanuel Macron has been a leading critic of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change sceptic who scrapped restrictions on exploiting the Amazon’s vast riches. (EurActiv)
Better together – Oil major Shell and tech giant Microsoft announced a new strategic alliance on Tuesday to support progress toward net zero emissions. The enhanced alliance will see Shell supply renewable energy to Microsoft to help the company reach its 100% renewable energy goal by 2025. The companies will also collaborate on artificial intelligence to deliver efficiencies to reduce Shell’s GHG emissions, while they plan to work on digital tools to reduce customers’ carbon footprints. Shell has already seen emissions cuts from AI technology in its liquefied natural gas operations through an existing collaboration with Microsoft.
Green hydrogen biz – Spanish utility Iberdrola will create a new business unit aimed at developing green hydrogen to supply industry and heavy transport, the company announced on Monday. The company said it will use renewables to power electrolysis which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. Iberdrola said the first project in Puertollano, in southern Spain, will comprise of a 100MW solar photovoltaic plant, a lithium-ion battery system for storage, and an electrolysis system to produce hydrogen. With an investment of €150 mln, the plant will be commissioned in 2021. (Reuters)
Gas goes green – The UK government has launched a consultation on Tuesday to scale up green gas and reduce emissions from the grid supported by the ‘Green Gas Levy’, which was announced in Mar. 2020. BEIS plans to scale up green gas production to heat around 230,000 homes, and the government says the initiative has the potential to remove 21.6 MtCO2e. The funding raised by the levy would help bring investment into rural areas in the UK, support the creation of more green jobs, and build new biomethane plants, leading to more green gas being injected into the grid.
Bonus round – EU governments may be allowed to grant more state aid to projects that help the bloc achieve its climate goals, Europe’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said on Tuesday, calling such an incentive a “green bonus”. In contrast, polluting factories or power plants may be rebuffed when they seek state aid, she said. Vestager said one example that might qualify for a green bonus could be state-funded building projects that use recycled materials. “We could think of giving a sort of ‘green bonus’, which allows governments to use more state aid for projects that make a genuine contribution to our green goals,” she told an event organised by European Parliament liberal group Renew Europe. “We could also look at how to build on the success of competitive tenders in keeping renewable energy costs down, by seeing if we could extend that approach to other areas,” she added. At the same time, “we might refuse to approve aid that would harm the environment, or would keep polluting factories or power plants operating,” Vestager said. (Reuters)
Clean exit – In a dramatic reversal, one of the world’s biggest makers of coal-fired power plants is to exit the market and focus on greener alternatives. US industrial giant GE said it would shut or sell sites as it prioritised its renewable energy and power generation businesses. The firm suggested the decision was motivated by economics. (BBC)
Mission critical – The scope of the EU’s next multibillion-euro research and innovation programme Horizon Europe became clearer on Tuesday, as independent experts handed over their final recommendations to the bloc’s Commission, comprising five “missions”, including one for climate-neutral cities and another for climate adaptation. Next comes haggling over the budgets in time for the launch in 2021. (Science|Business)
Protocol pair – The Climate Action Reserve (CAR) will present its draft Adipic Acid and Soil Enrichment protocols to the Reserve Board of Directors on Sep. 30, the offset registry announced Monday. The former protocol provides guidance for monitoring, reporting, and verifying N20 emission reductions at adipic acid production facilities in the United States, while the second provides guidance to account for, report, and verify GHG emissions reductions associated with projects that enhance soil carbon sequestration and immediately reduce GHGs on agricultural lands through the adoption of sustainable agricultural land management activities.
‘Cause I’m R.N.G. – North American environmental advisory firm and project developer Bluesource will host a webinar on renewable natural gas (RNG) on Sep. 29 at 1000 Pacific time (1700 GMT). The panel discussion will focus on how RNG markets have created a gold rush for manure digester projects, with experts detailing how the fuel is used within voluntary and compliance markets, including California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS).
And finally… It wasn’t me – In a message to the UN, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday denied responsibility for the worst fires on record in his country despite having slashed environmental protections. In a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly, Bolsonaro instead hit out at critics of his administration’s environmental record, accusing “shady interests” jealous of Brazil’s food exports of running a “brutal disinformation” campaign. Fires in the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland, were “the inevitable consequence of hot local temperatures coupled with the accumulation of decaying organic matter,” he claimed. This year, the Pantanal has been devastated by the highest number of fires since records began in the 1990s. In the state of Mato Grosso, there were 4,200 fires in August compared to just 184 during the same month last year, and 71 in Aug. 2018. The fires have caused respiratory problems for the region’s human inhabitants, making coronavirus more dangerous, and killed rare animals like jaguars, pumas, and giant armadillos. (Climate Home)
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