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A UK high court judge on Tuesday ruled that a climate campaigner could sue the government for excluding waste incinerators from greenhouse gas pricing, teeing up a case that could help set a precedent for the EU.
Germany has awarded payments to close 4.79 GW in hard coal-fired power by Jan. 1, 2021, in the country’s first tender as part of efforts to phase out the carbon-intensive fuel from its energy mix, while Poland’s grid operator also announced coal-fired capacity removals.
EU carbon retreated on profit-taking Tuesday after tagging €30 for the first time since September, with colder weather, a looming supply drought, and wider market strength continuing to support EUA prices after a stellar November.
Free allocation of carbon allowances to intra-EU flights should be scrapped and revenues from auctioning them used to support innovation and the deployment of cleaner aviation fuels, said an NGO report released this week.
The European Commission has organised an expert workshop on the upcoming Market Stability Reserve (MSR) review, with the online session to be held this Thursday by Vivid Economics.
Traders anticipate the RGGI auction on Wednesday will settle near secondary market pricing levels, with some questioning whether regulated parties may bid more aggressively as the Northeast US cap-and-trade scheme transitions to the post-2020 period.
The cap-and-trade auction floor price in the California-Quebec carbon market will rise to $17.71 in 2021, as the total WCI-linked auction supply will climb by 2%, state regulator ARB confirmed Tuesday.
California’s cap-and-trade regulated entities decreased their offset usage at this year’s interim compliance deadline for 2019 obligations, while indirect power sector emissions dropped year-on-year, according to data published by state regulator ARB on Tuesday.
Gas producer Santos on Tuesday moved forward its net zero emissions target by 10 years to 2040, eyeing the emerging demand for carbon neutral LNG in Asian markets with plans for CCS and offsetting.
Australian carbon credit issuance fell to near zero over the past week, while generator EnergyAustralia demonstrated that the bulk of voluntary demand remains for international units despite strong growth in the domestic offset market.
Offset standard developer and manager Verra published a consultation on Tuesday for a new carbon unit designed to help nature-based projects access financial flows prior to receiving verified credits.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
** Join Carbon Pulse’s Anna Gumbau at 1430 CET on Dec. 8 as she moderates a panel discussion hosted by Swedish mining company LKAB. Iron and steel ready for the Green Deal will examine how EU heavy industry frontrunners are aligning their climate objectives with the bloc’s massive decarbonisation initiative. Speakers include LKAB’s President and CEO Jan Mostrom, the European Commission’s Diederik Samsom, Eva Svedling from Sweden’s Ministry of Climate, Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland, and Carbon Market Watch’s Sam van den Plas. Register here **
New promise – New climate promises from China, Japan and Korea, plus the carbon plans of US president-elect Joe Biden, make it possible that the rise in world temperatures could be held to 2.1C by the end of this century, according to researchers Climate Action Tracker (CAT), which had up to last year judged that heating would rise to up to 3C of heating with disastrous impacts. Yet, the experts fear long-term optimism is not matched by short-term plans to cut CO2. (BBC)
GEF mess – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is facing several allegations of fraud and corruption linked to the multibillion-dollar Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Financial Times reports. It outlines – from a copy of a draft report by UNDP’s office of audit and investigations – ‘financial misstatements’ worth millions of dollars across UNDP’s portfolio of GEF-funded projects around the world. UNDP has released a statement in response.
Rising rates – Brazil’s national space agency Inpe shows that levels of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon have reached a 12-year high to 11,088 sq km over Aug. 2019 to July 2020, up 9.5% from a year earlier. Destruction has been soaring since President Jair Bolsonaro took office and weakened environmental enforcement. Environmentalists blamed the government for the rise, but federal officials hailed the figures as a sign of progress in fighting deforestation because the rise was far lower than the 34% increase recorded in 2019. (Reuters)
A bit of weekend sleuthing – Some of the UK’s most well-known carmakers are facing questions over their role in a report which tried to pour doubt over the green credentials of electric vehicles, says the i newspaper. The analysis, which received widespread coverage at the end of last week, claimed an electric vehicle would need to be driven for almost 50,000 miles before it gained a CO2 advantage over a conventional petrol car. This figure has been dismissed as misleading propaganda by EV experts. Backed by industry associations and auto firms, including McLaren, Aston Martin, and Honda, the study argued there is no ‘silver bullet’ for decarbonising transport. It promoted the role of biofuels and synthetic fuels alongside battery electric cars. However, when experts had a closer look, the report underestimated combustion engine emissions and cherry-picked data to make biofuels appear more climate-friendly than EVs. As well, questions have been raised over the relationship between Aston Martin and PR firm Clarendon Communications, which was hired to distribute the report. Clean energy entrepreneur Michael Liebreich of BNEF fame spent the weekend investigating Clarendon. According to Companies House, Rebecca Stephens is Clarendon’s sole director. Land Registry information confirms the firm’s registered address is co-owned by her and James Stephens, a senior executive at Aston Martin. Aston Martin said it did not contract Clarendon Communications to distribute the report. It claimed it has “no formal links” with the PR firm but refused to comment further on whether governance rules had been breached. (Carbon Brief)
Prepare to adapt – The European Parliament’s environment committee (ENVI) on Tuesday passed a resolution demanding the European Commission channel more funding into climate adaptation, as part of an EU adaptation strategy to be adopted in early 2021. ENVI MEPs have called for increased funding at EU, national, and regional levels, and for public and private investments in adaptation. The Commission should ensure that costs arising from a failure to take adaptation measures are not passed on to citizens and enforce the ‘polluter pays’ principle, EU lawmakers added. MEPs expect to adopt the resolution in full plenary at a Dec. 14-17 session.
Court pressure – The European Court of Human Rights has ordered 33 European governments to respond to a landmark climate lawsuit lodged by six youth campaigners who say governments are moving too slowly to reduce the GHGs. If the defendant countries fail to convince the judges, lawyers say they will be legally bound to take more ambitious steps and to address the contribution they make to overseas emissions through trade, deforestation, and extractive industries. A Dutch court will also hear a case against oil major Shell by seven activist groups, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Netherlands, which argue the company has been aware for decades of the damage it has inflicted and is acting unlawfully by expanding its fossil fuel operations. (Guardian)
Downtime – China is reducing the runtime of some manufacturing industries during winter to slash air pollution, and some provinces – including Hebei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, and Shandong – have closed down cement factories from Dec. 1 with a total annual production capacity of 600 Mt, according to news website eastmoney (story in Chinese here). The plants will remain shuttered for four months, and will suppress CO2 emissions as well as air pollutants during that period.
Full score – Participants in Guangdong’s pilot ETS had to surrender permits to cover their 2019 emissions by Nov. 30, and on Tuesday the government announced every regulated company had met the deadline. There was no information on how much scheme participants had emitted. The Guangdong market, China’s biggest pilot scheme, covers around 400 MtCO2/year.
They’re being watched – Amid concerns some Asian utilities are not prepared for the transition to net zero, the Asian Investor Group on Climate Change has released a report providing practical guidance for power companies across the region on climate risk and emissions. The group plans to launch an investor engagement programme with electric utilities across Asia, which account for a quarter of the world’s total GHG emissions.
Lagos? More like La-gas – Nigeria will offer free conversion to enable some cars to run on natural gas, and its central bank will make some 250 billion naira ($657 mln) available for infrastructure in a bid to expand gas use and cut reliance on imported fuel, the government said Tuesday. Africa’s largest oil exporter is aiming to have 1 million gas-powered cars by 2021, and to convert of 40% of its fleet within 10 years. The plan, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari, is part of the oil- and gas-rich nation’s effort to free itself of costly gasoline subsidies while avoiding public anger over higher pump prices. The COVID-19 pandemic has slammed oil prices, which provide 90% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange and more than half of its budget. (Reuters)
Full FERC – The US Senate voted on Monday to confirm the nominations of Republican-pick Mark Christie and Democrat-pick Allison Clements to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), meaning the body will once again have a full five-person quorum. Confirming the pair also means that FERC will be a majority Republican body until June, when former Chairman Neil Chatterjee’s term ends. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to choose either Clements or Commissioner Richard Glick to chair FERC. (Utility Dive)
Joe for justice – President-elect Joe Biden is vetting three environmental justice leaders to head up the White House agency that will take the lead in coordinating efforts to safeguard communities disproportionately affected by pollution, sources familiar with the process told Reuters. The shortlist for head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) – a position that requires Senate confirmation – is Mustafa Santiago Ali, Cecilia Martinez, and Brenda Mallory. One source close to the transition team said the incoming administration also started final vetting this week for three finalists to head up the EPA: California ARB Chair Mary Nichols, clean air advocate Heather McTeer Toney, and National Wildlife Federation Chief Executive and Biden advisor Collin O’Mara. An announcement would likely come after other positions, such as attorney general, were named, the source said.
Who run the world? – More women in boardrooms means better climate policy, according to a study by BloombergNEF and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation released Tuesday. Firms, including electric utilities and oil producers, with 30% or more of director roles filled by women typically score better on environmental disclosures. They are more likely to set clear climate governance strategies and show greater transparency in the release of related data, including on emissions. The study analysed 11,700 global companies and found that emissions growth from firms with a third of female directors was 0.6% compared with 3.5% from those without any women on the board. (Bloomberg)
Hello mother, hello father – The Caribbean island of Grenada on Tuesday submitted its revised Paris Agreement NDC to the UN climate agency. The country intends to reduce its GHG emissions 40% below 2010 levels by 2030, conditional on receiving external funding. This marks an increase in ambition from its first NDC of lowering GHGs by 25% below 2010 levels by 2025. Grenada added that while it doesn’t currently utilise any market-based mechanisms, it would be willing to explore their potential under Paris’ yet-to-be-agreed Article 6.
Green screen – ClimeCoGreen, a division of offset project developer and marketer ClimeCo Corporation, on Tuesday announced the launch of a new website that provides individuals the opportunity to offset their household carbon footprint easily. ClimeCoGreen’s calculator estimates an individual’s footprint in five key areas: home energy, transportation, food, goods, and services. This calculation provides a basic understanding of a consumers’ unique impact and compares it against others within their area, providing the option to purchase offsets from one or more of several featured projects.
Crypto carbon – The Universal Protocol Alliance (UPA), a coalition of blockchain companies, on Tuesday launched Universal Carbon [UPCO2], the world’s first tradable carbon token on a public blockchain that can be bought and held as an investment, or burnt to offset an individual’s carbon footprint. Each UPCO2 Token represents one tonne of CO2e averted by a certified REDD+ project and backed by units issued by Verra or other international offset standards, according to a press release. The UPCO2 Token was valued at $7.65 per credit on Tuesday.
And finally… TikTok warriors – Look beyond the inane challenges and the silly dances, as Generation Z is shaping climate policy, finance, and activism more than any previous generation, Bloomberg reports. The videogame sector is taking note as 28 companies with a combined audience of over 970 million players have joined the UN’s Playing for the Planet Alliance, pledging to reduce emissions and to insert green elements into games such as Minecraft, which features a climate plugin where farm animals fart methane and furnaces emit CO2, some of which is absorbed by trees.
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