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US tech giant Microsoft said on Thursday that it has contracted over 1.3 million removal-based carbon credits, with California compliance-eligible and voluntary market forestry projects making up the majority as the company seeks a transition to long-term technological solutions.
Laos and Fiji have secured deals with the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility that would see them receive payment for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation over the next five years.
RGGI allowance (RGA) prices collapsed across the week on thin volume to hit a two-month low, while California Carbon Allowances (CCA) inched down on the secondary market ahead of the February auction.
California gasoline and diesel consumption narrowed the year-on-year gap in October, but both fuel sources remain significantly down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to state data published Thursday.
California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credit bank declined by nearly 6% during the third quarter of 2020 as petroleum gasoline and diesel sales rebounded following the temporary lifting of COVID-19 economic and travel restrictions, analysts estimated on Thursday.
US biofuel credit (RIN) prices skyrocketed this week to levels not seen in several years as traders expect President Joe Biden’s administration to more stringently enforce the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and set higher fuel quotas going forward.
EUAs climbed 2% on Thursday as colder weather forecasts supported energy prices, with carbon resilient a day before the resumption of daily auctions.
While the ETS and carbon pricing are critical components of the EU decarbonisation process, the functioning of the EU ETS has long been impacted by a what was seen as a “structural” surplus of emission allowances (EUAs), or what was labelled a “supply-demand imbalance”, explains Andrei Marcu of think-tank ERCST.
Owen Hewlett of Gold Standard welcomes the Taskforce to Scale the Voluntary Carbon Market’s intention to make sure companies can take responsibility for their emissions, but argues that scale alone should not be the marker of success.
High-integrity offsets and standardised over-the-counter contracts should factor into efforts to scale up the voluntary carbon market (VCM), according to a roadmap published Wednesday by UN climate finance envoy Mark Carney’s private-sector taskforce.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Breaking zero – A “Race to Zero Breakthroughs” paper identifying key tipping points for climate action across more than 20 sectors of the global economy has been published by the UN at the Davos summit, outlining the technological breakthroughs key actors must deliver in order to put the world on track to net zero emissions by 2050. The paper wants 20% of each sector to commit to pursuing each breakthrough and to deliver on at least 10 sectors ahead of November’s COP26 UN climate talks. (BusinessGreen)
Target residue – Switzerland has adopted a long-term climate strategy for its net zero emissions target, setting out 10 strategic principles aimed at shaping climate policy. It foresees a near-90% cut in gross emissions by mid-century, leaving around 12 MtCO2e being emitted in the industry, waste, and agriculture sectors to be offset using CCS and negative emissions technologies.
Unscrutinised – The European Investment Bank illegally avoided environmental scrutiny of its financing decisions, the Court of Justice of the EU ruled on Wednesday. The verdict follows a case brought by ClientEarth against the EU bank after it refused the NGO’s request for an internal review of a €60 mln loan. Lawyers said that granting the loan for the construction of a biomass power generation plant in Spain breached the EIB’s financing criteria for responsible investment in renewables and that there had been errors in the assessment of the project’s suitability for funding, but the EIB rejected the request for scrutiny. The case is the first of its kind against the world’s biggest multilateral investor and marks a new precedent of more transparent decisions on environmental funding. (Euractiv)
The EU Green Breach – The European Commission and national consumer authorities on Thursday released the results of a screening of websites (“sweep”), an exercise carried out each year to identify possible breaches of EU consumer law in online markets, which for the first time focused on ‘greenwashing’. National consumer protection authorities had reason to believe that in 42% of cases the screened websites’ environmental claims were exaggerated, false, or deceptive and could potentially qualify as unfair commercial practices under EU rules. Greenwashing has increased as consumers increasingly seek to buy environmentally sound products, the Commission added.
Exhausty aspirations – US automaker General Motors (GM) on Thursday announced it will “aspire” to have all of its global new light-duty vehicles be zero emissions by 2035, and will seek to achieve carbon neutrality from its plants and products by 2040. To achieve this, GM will offer zero-emissions vehicles across a range of prices, and it is working with all its stakeholders, including suppliers and green group Environmental Defense Fund, to build charging infrastructure and promote consumer acceptance. For the emissions it cannot reduce, GM will look into leveraging a “minimal” amount of carbon offsets. The company also on Thursday signed the Business Ambition Pledge for 1.5C, which is a call by a global coalition of UN agencies, business, and industry leaders to protect the environment. (Detroit Free Press)
Teaming up – BP and Qantas have signed a strategic partnership to try and bring about emissions reductions from the Australian airline’s flights. The companies will explore opportunities to develop sustainable fuels, but will also jointly advocate decarbonising the aviation sector and renewable energy. (Reuters)
Net zero blueprint – The NGO-backed Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) has launched a consultation until Feb. 26 for its Net-Zero Standard Criteria, aiming to set a blueprint for how companies can credibly set and reach net zero emissions. The initiative is inviting comments on its first draft, including feedback on how carbon credits should be used. Read Carbon Pulse’s analysis on how the SBTi relaxed its previously hard line against offsets to go beyond their science-based emissions reduction targets.
Voluntary vocab – The Nordic Dialogue on Voluntary Compensation announced Wednesday brings together key Nordic actors to develop a common vocabulary, principles, and best practices for voluntary offsetting of greenhouse gas emissions in the region. Preparatory work will start in spring with the support of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Working Group on Climate and Air, facilitated by consultancies Perspectives, IVL, Carbon Limits, and Tyrsky.
And finally… The White Goodnight – After 279 speeches and sounding cautiously optimistic about the prospects of climate change legislation, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D) announced Wednesday he would end his weekly “Time to Wake Up” speech during remarks on the Senate floor. “I am hopeful for a bipartisan bill. But if we can’t get good faith bipartisanship, we’ve got reconciliation,” Whitehouse said. “When it’s dawn, there’s no need for my little candle against the darkness – my little Time to Wake Up pilot light can now go out.” He ended the remarks with a drop of a microphone. Democrats hold a razor-thin one-vote majority in the upper chamber, allowing them to pass a budget reconciliation package with a simple majority, but not enough to override the 60-vote filibuster rule necessary to move most other pieces of major legislation to a Senate floor vote. (Politico)
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