CP Daily: Thursday February 18, 2021

Published 01:09 on February 19, 2021  /  Last updated at 01:17 on February 19, 2021  /  Newsletter  /  No Comments

A daily summary of our news plus bite-sized updates from around the world.

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TOP STORY

Brussels leaning towards ‘notional’ ETS for carbon border measure, says EU trade chief

The EU’s prospective carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) will likely take the shape of a ‘notional’ emissions market, the 27-nation bloc’s trade chief said on Thursday.

VOLUNTARY

Gold Standard to mandate corresponding adjustments by 2025 in Paris-era offset trade plans

Voluntary carbon market certifier Gold Standard has proposed a phased timeline that would mean all its offsets will require corresponding adjustments by 2025, as well as setting tighter requirements for transitioning projects.

AMERICAS

US banking and finance groups call for price on carbon

A group of 11 trade associations representing banks, asset managers, and investment and pension funds endorsed a CO2 price on Thursday as a strategy to transitioning the US to a low-carbon economy, with growing support for such a policy from the business and financial community.

NA Markets: RGGI edges up on low liquidity, as CCAs sink before Q1 auction results

RGGI Allowance (RGA) prices inched up on the secondary market this week on thin volume, as California Carbon Allowance (CCA) values dipped slightly as traders expected Wednesday’s Q1 auction to settle at this year’s WCI floor price.

Bankrupt US biofuel credit trader says it may reorganise

A Houston-based biofuel credit (RIN) trader may reorganise and resume trading operations after a number of lawsuits led it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, according to a court filing published Wednesday.

US fuel supplier hires Houston-based environmental trader

A Texas-based environmental trader has joined a Tennessee-based fuel supplier with obligations in the WCI cap-and-trade market, Carbon Pulse has learned.

EMEA

EU Market: EUAs halt losses as some traders eye return to €40

EUAs made slight gains on Thursday, halting a three-day losing streak as some market participants targeted a rapid return to the record levels of earlier this week.

UK court denies brokers’ £5.6 mln tax claim appeal over EU ETS fraud

A London-based brokerage has been denied in its appeal to claim back £5.6 million in tax linked to fraudulent trades in EU carbon allowances.

Scottish environmental regulator still cut off from comms, emissions MRV systems after hack

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) remains unable to access Britain’s carbon market MRV system or receive correspondence from big emitters after a major cyberattack targeted the regulator almost two months ago.

ASIA PACIFIC

Miner Rio Tinto to draw up carbon offset strategy

Mining firm Rio Tinto has begun developing nature-based offset projects in Australia and Madagascar and will publish a group-wide carbon offset strategy later this year, it said this week, though activities are set to be kept within the company’s operational boundaries initially.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

INTERNATIONAL

A Wales of a time – CEOs from a raft of the world’s largest banks have joined together in a new task force convened by the Prince of Wales to “work on meaningful and actionable plans to accelerate the world’s transition to a sustainable future”, with a view to defining a “credible pathway” to a net zero banking sector. Spearheaded by the Prince of Wales’ Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) – a network of global business leaders established last year – the Financial Services Task Force (FSTF) includes top executives from HSBC, BNP Paribas, Barclays, NatWest, Bank of America, and many others. SMI said the FSTF would aim to build on the work of the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets (TSVCM), the initiative spearheaded by former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to create a credibly global system for investing in and delivering carbon offset projects. (BusinessGreen)

EMEA

Congo concessions – Campaigners in the DRC are taking the country’s environmental minister to court over accusations he illegally allocated last year nearly three mln hectares of logging concessions to two Chinese firms and a Congolese cleaning company. The ministry has insisted the minister did not act illegally and the contracts referred to transfers of existing titles rather than the opening of new concessions. Several of the concessions are located in the Mai Ndombe province, an area covered by a $55 mln REDD programme being finalised between the DRC government and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. (Climate Home)

Ford focus – Carmaker Ford has said every one of its new cars sold in Europe will be electric or plug-in hybrid by 2026 and fully electric four years later. The manufacturer intends to invest at least $22 bln in electrification through to 2025, almost double its previous plans. The moves outpace the UK’s planned 2030 ban on new fossil fuel car sales, and France’s in 2040. It also advances on rival General Motors’ 2035 fully electric goal, but not Jaguar’s plans for a 2025 cut-off. (Guardian)

Ammonia alert – Norway’s power firm Statkraft and chemicals firm Yara have teamed up aiming to produce zero carbon ammonia from Yara’s Porsgrunn facility in the country within 5-7 years. The venture aims to use Statkraft’s renewable energy to produce ammonia rather than fossil fuel energy and explore its application in shipping, fertilisers, and industry. (Argus)

Blue move – Norway’s oil firm Equinor and France’s power producer Engie have joined forces to develop ways to produce ‘blue’ hydrogen –with gas and CCS. The companies said they would start discussions with potential customers among heavy industry in Belgium, the Netherlands, and France to assess the viability of the project, as well as with stakeholders and relevant authorities. (Reuters)

Other moves – Hydrogen initiatives are accelerating globally, the Hydrogen Council said in a report co-authored with consultancy McKinsey. There are now 228 large-scale projects for a combined $300 bln of proposed investment through to 2030. The report noted that falling costs for renewables and electrolyzers could see cost parity reached between green and gray hydrogen by 2028 in the best-suited regions, and between 2032 and 2034 in average regions. Blue hydrogen could also break-even with gray hydrogen by the end of the decade at a cost of $35-$50/t of CO2 equivalent for transport and storage. (S&P Global Platts)

Floored by sums – Europe needs to invest $585 bln in renewable power and storage or it will fail to meet its 2030 emissions reduction target of at least 55% below 1990 levels, a report by consultancy Wood Mackenzie said. Under current plans, the report found Europe would reach an emissions reduction cut of only 46%. CCS, widespread hydrogen use, and a $65/tonne EU ETS floor price are also necessary, it added. (Reuters)

AMERICAS

Rollback roulette – President Biden on Thursday revoked a Trump administration policy that aimed to prevent federal agencies from weighing climate change impacts in their decision-making around major projects like pipelines and highways. The White House Council for Environmental Quality revoked the Trump administration’s 2019 draft National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidance GHG emissions, which had rolled back an Obama-era policy that required agencies to evaluate the climate change impacts of major infrastructure projects in their reviews (Reuters).

Alliance announcement – Washington DC-based think-tank Bipartisan Policy Center on Wednesday launched the Net Zero Business Alliance to help corporations and governments understand and plot their path to net zero GHG emissions by 2050. Founding corporations include utility Southern Co., United Airlines, Tyson Foods, and timberland company Weyerhaeuser. (S&P Global Platts)

Pledge participants – IBM and 19 other companies have joined Amazon’s Climate Pledge, committing to decarbonise  their businesses and purchase offsets to bring their total emissions to zero by 2040, the tech giant announced Wednesday. The new signatories include Seattle-based companies MiiR, the upscale thermos manufacturer, and consulting group Slalom. All told, 53 companies have now signed the Climate Pledge. (Seattle Times)

Plains simple – Nebraska-based biorefining company Green Plains on Thursday announced three of its facilities have entered into a long-term carbon offtake agreement with Summit Carbon Solutions (SCS) for CCS projects. SCS revealed its plans for CCS project that will create the infrastructure to transport CO2 from Iowa to North Dakota for deposit into geologic storage, with the pipeline set to begin operation in late 2024. When completed, SCS is expected to have infrastructure capable of capturing and sequestering 10 Mt of CO2 annually. Through CCS, Green Plains said it can reduce the carbon intensity of its biofuels by up to 50%, and can also generate revenue through the US’ ‘45Q’ tax credit for CCS.

ASIA PACIFIC

Reporting season I – Australian oil and gas firm Woodside saw its Scope 1 and 2 emissions rise to 9.2 MtCO2e in 2020, up from 8.8 Mt the previous year, it said in its annual sustainable development report published Thursday. The reason for the increase was primarily fewer planned maintenance activities and increased operational hours, it said. Woodside aims to cut its emissions 15% below the 2016-20 average by 2025 and 30% by 2030, and last year set up a carbon market team to handle offset purchases and strategy.

Reporting season II – Australian power generator Origin Energy announced Thursday it had cut its FY2020 Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 9% to 18.5 MtCO2e from 20.3 Mt the year before. It also said it had taken on a new near-term target to reduce its Scope 1 emissions by 10% on average over 2021-23, compared to 2017. Last year it set a target of cutting Scope 1 & 2 emissions 50% by 2032 and Scope 3 emissions 25% by the same year, compared to 2017, and reach net zero by mid-century.

VOLUNTARY

RET release – Singapore-based emissions exchange AirCarbon (ACX) on Wednesday introduced its Renewable Energy Token (RET), a product backed by carbon credits that are not eligible for UN body ICAO’s CORSIA offset programme due to vintage restrictions. In a press release, ACX said that Taiwan-based carbon service YC Consultants and Australia-based traders Viridios Capital transacted the first RET on the blockchain platform for $0.70/tonne. ACX added that the RET will provide a benchmark price for carbon credits from the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol and others generated by renewable energy projects.

SCIENCE & TECH

Disclaimer – Facebook will begin labelling some user posts that mention climate change in the same way it has annotated posts discussing elections and COVID-19 – a sign the social network is taking climate-related misinformation more seriously. According to Bloomberg, the labels will direct users to Facebook’s Climate Science Information Center – an existing hub that includes related news articles, climate change data, and recommendations for pages to follow. The new labels will be added to some posts about climate change, regardless of their accuracy – a strategy Facebook has used with other widely discussed topics as a way to fight falsehoods. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has argued that the best way to keep misinformation from spreading on its networks is not just to remove misleading posts, but to offer people accurate information from authoritative sources. The labels are rolling out first to users in the UK, though the plan is to bring them to more countries soon.

Wind through the trees – Vestas Wind Systems has bought a minority stake in a Swedish startup that builds turbine towers out of wood. The move by the world’s largest manufacturer of turbines could help remove hard to recycle and fossil fuel-intensive materials like steel from the production process, Bloomberg reports. Modvion aims to make towers for wind turbines out of a composite wood made of multiple 3-to-4 mm-thick layers of Nordic-grown spruce. The tower is then covered in a waterproof coating. The company said the product is as at least as strong and should be just as cheap once production scales up. Modvion raised about 11.47 mln Swedish krona ($1.4 mln), at a valuation of around $27 mln, from investors including Vestas, according to the company’s CEO Otto Lundman. He plans to raise a larger sum, about €10 mln, as soon as later this year to help finance the company’s first major factory that will be able to produce about 200 units a year by 2023. Modvion erected its first wooden tower in April on an island outside Gothenburg. The first commercial model will be installed by 2022.

AND FINALLY…

Rehabilitating renewables – As rolling power outages continued to plague Texas on Wednesday in the wake of this week’s polar vortex, power sector experts found themselves fighting against misinformation from Republican politicians about the root of the problem. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Representative Dan Crenshaw were quick to blame renewable energy, particularly wind, for causing the supply constraints the region has been facing since Sunday evening. But data from the state’s grid operator makes it clear that the majority of outages were caused by gas supply constraints corresponding to a major spike in demand. Though no power resource performed perfectly, power sector experts dismissed the idea that renewables alone were to blame for the outages. (Utility Dive)

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