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A group of EU parliamentarians are pushing to allow foreign offsets to be used to meet the bloc’s enhanced 2030 emissions reduction target, though the move is seen as having little chance of success.
The German Presidency of the Council of EU member states will seek by year-end to reach unanimous backing for an EU-wide 55% emissions reduction target for 2030, although solidarity among the 27 nations will be crucial in reaching a deal, Germany’s environment minister said on Thursday.
EU carbon prices will remain around current levels below €30 over the next three-to-six months, but with volatility dialled up due to heightened uncertainty stemming from a myriad of factors, analysts said.
EUAs dipped back towards €26 on Thursday amid a poor auction result, worsening prospects for a UK-EU trade pact, and weaker energy prices.
The UK government has once again fined oil and gas companies BP and Repsol Sinopec for regulation breaches relating to the EU ETS.
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices retraced over the past week from recent highs attained during the coronavirus pandemic, while RGGI Allowances (RGA) inched up as entities shifted positions further out on the curve.
Colorado should assess whether a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) could help meet the state’s emissions reduction goals, but the policy would not be incorporated into any near-term plans, a government report said Wednesday.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Plane paths – Aviation group ATAG has set out pathways for its 10-year-old goal to halve airline carbon emissions by 2050 and reach net zero emissions only about a decade later. ATAG’s various emissions scenarios show that sustainable aviation fuels and carbon offsets can together deliver 41-75% of the sector’s 50% emissions reduction target by 2050, improved technology can deliver 15-42%, while operations and infrastructure can deliver 8-12%. (Platts)
The North remembers – Concerns have been raised after Northern Ireland was ‘left out’ of the UK Government’s climate change assessments. Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs officials admitted the omission from the government’s ETS at a DAERA committee meeting, according to the Alliance Party. That interpretation has been rejected by officials, but steps that are being taken have sparked concern that less will now be done in Northern Ireland to cut emissions. A spokesperson for Northern Ireland’s environment department said: “DAERA is compiling analysis of local impacts of carbon pricing in Northern Ireland which covers both those installations that will participate in the new UK ETS and also electricity generators which will remain in the EU ETS by virtue of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol.” (Belfast Live)
For your health – The UK health service on Thursday released a report analysing its progress towards meeting its net zero targets. The NHS is targeting net-zero by 2040 for its direct emissions and by 2045 for wider scope emissions. This second target entails a reduction of 24.9 MtCO2e, roughly equivalent to the emissions profile of Croatia.
Cantabrigian cuts – After a five-year battle over its response to the climate crisis, the UK’s University of Cambridge has committed to remove all direct and indirect investments in the fossil fuel industry from its £3.5 bln endowment fund – the largest of any higher education institution in Europe – by 2030. Cambridge has also outlined plans to divest from any public equity managers focused on “conventional energy” by the end of this year, and to “allocate significant capital” to renewable energy by 2025. As well, it aims to achieve net zero emissions across its investment portfolio, meaning it could need to buy offsets to neutralise any residual carbon footprint. (350.org)
Fossil financier – A new report shows the US government bought more than $350 mln in bonds issued by oil and gas companies and induced investors to loan the industry tens of billions more at artificially low rates since the coronavirus pandemic began, Bloomberg reported. The Fed itself bought debt from 19 fossil fuel companies, including 12 that have since been downgraded by independent credit-rating agencies, according to the report, released Wednesday by Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, and Bailout Watch. Since the Federal Reserve began bailing out corporate debt markets in March, a total of 56 oil and gas companies have issued $99.3 bln in debt, including some to companies that have said they may have failed without the cash. By announcing it would buy corporate debts, the reports authors write, the Fed effectively reduced the risk to investors who might otherwise not have purchased the oil and gas companies’ debt. (Climate Nexus)
Across-the-nation CCS collaboration – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s (D) administration on Thursday announced that it is joining with six other states – Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Oklahoma, and Wyoming – in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) expressing a commitment to establish and implement a regional CO2 transport infrastructure plan by collaborating and leveraging resources across the participating states. According to the MOU, the signatory states recognise that development of regional and national CO2 transport networks, together with proposed tax credits and other financial incentives for carbon capture from industrial facilities and power plants and from ambient air through direct air capture, can support long-term fossil fuel production while still reducing GHGs. (STL News)
Speaking of which… – Germany’s energy and economy ministry will launch a new round of debates on the usage of CCS, an idea that was deemed dead after a 2012 law allowed states to ban the use of underground caverns for storing CO2. Now the government plans to initiate a dialogue among NGOs, industry associations, businesses, and researchers to find out more about acceptance issues of this potential carbon sink. The dialogue is to start before the next general election in autumn 2021, according to Tagesspiegel. (Clean Energy Wire)
Crop til’ you drop – Digital agricultural technology company Farmers Edge on Wednesday announced a partnership with Calgary-based Radicle Group to create a new, high-tech carbon credit programme powered by real-time field data. Under the terms of the partnership, the project will roll out in multiple phases, starting with streamlining existing programmes in Canada and evolving into the US market. Radicle will manage the credit development process with a focus on maximising the value of carbon credits for growers, while Farmers Edge will provide the technology for carbon management, including tools to measure sustainability metrics, quantify soil health, track agronomic practices, and identify which carbon credits growers can qualify for. The companies will use existing offset protocols under the programme. (CropLife)
Swept under the Doug – Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives are sticking it to their own controversial gas-pump decals that railed against the federal CO2 pricing regime after a court ruled they were unconstitutional. Ford’s cabinet decided late Wednesday against appealing a Sep. 4 Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision that found the mandatory stickers violated business owners’ freedom of expression. That means the blue decals that read “the federal carbon tax will cost you” are being consigned to the dustbin of history, along with Ford’s double-blue licence plates withdrawn earlier this year after complaints from drivers and front-line police officers about the plate’s readability at night. (The Star, CTV News)
Ice ice maybe – Researchers at MIT have identified a counteracting effect that suggests Antarctic sea ice may not be as powerful a control on the global carbon cycle as scientists had suspected. The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is a region where many of the world’s carbon-rich deep waters can rise back up to the surface. Scientists think vast swaths of sea ice around Antarctica can act as a lid for upwelling carbon, preventing the gas from breaking through the ocean’s surface and returning to the atmosphere. But it can also act as a shade, blocking sunlight from reaching phytoplankton and other ocean microbes that take up carbon from the atmosphere to grow. This shading effect is almost equal and opposite to that of sea ice’s capping effect.
Done digital – Digital services firm Atos has completed its acquisition of climate and offsetting consultancy EcoAct, confirming a deal flagged in July. The sum paid was not disclosed. EcoAct will continue to be led by its founders, Thierry Fornas and Gerald Maradan, and complement Atos’ decarbonisation ‘excellence centre’ due to be launched in the first half of 2021. Read Carbon Pulse’s analysis on how the voluntary offset markets is being targeted by digital services firms seeking to deepen their climate offerings.
And finally… What about Bob? – Robert Murray, the former CEO and president of the now-bankrupt Murray Energy, has filed an application with the US Department of Labor for black lung benefits, after Murray and his company for years fought against federal mine safety regulations aimed at reducing the debilitating disease. Anonymous sources told West Virginia Public Broadcasting that Murray’s claim is still in the initial stages and is being evaluated to determine the party potentially responsible for paying out the associated benefits. Although he declined an on-the-record interview for the story, Murray said he has black lung from working in underground mines and is entitled to benefits. But Murray told NPR in Oct. 2019 that he had a lung disease that was not caused by working underground in mines. In 2014, Murray Energy spearheaded a lawsuit against the Obama administration over a federal rule that strengthened control of coal dust in mines.
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