CP Daily: Tuesday March 16, 2021

Published 00:46 on March 17, 2021  /  Last updated at 00:46 on March 17, 2021  /  Newsletter  /  No Comments

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

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TOP STORY

POLL: Pandemic slashed EU ETS emissions by record amount in 2020, analysts predict

Emissions covered under the EU ETS likely fell by a record amount in 2020, according to a poll of 10 analysts, as the pandemic and subsequent government-imposed lockdowns slashed power generation and industrial output while wreaking havoc on the European economy.

ASIA PACIFIC

NZ Market: First NZU auction sells out at NZ$36

New Zealand sold all 4.75 million NZUs on offer at its inaugural auction Wednesday, with the sale clearing more than 7% below the secondary market at NZ$36 ($25.90).

South Korea amends carbon market rules to allow in more foreign credits

South Korea’s environment ministry on Tuesday announced several rule changes to its emissions trading scheme, including removing the distinction between offsets generated at home and abroad for compliance use.

INTERNATIONAL

Interim benchmarks, not offsets, seen as key to accelerating net zero targets -panel

Activist shareholders welcome the impending release of ever-shorter, interim sectoral benchmarks designed to guide investors towards 2050 net zero targets, but remain adamantly opposed to the recognition of reduction-based offsets in achieving net zero, a panel heard Tuesday.

World Bank cancels three potential REDD agreements

The World Bank-led Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) has cancelled three possible deforestation reduction deals, while three others are expected to be agreed soon, a spokesperson confirmed to Carbon Pulse.

AMERICAS

Massachusetts GWSA auction settlement hits all-time low, as traders point to Texas losses

Massachusetts sold all Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) carbon allowances on offer at its March auction, but the second sale of 2021 allowances regressed to an all-time low clearing price for the power sector cap-and-trade programme, market participants told Carbon Pulse.

California power consumption trends back to historic levels at pandemic’s one-year mark

California electricity demand appears to be skewing back to historic levels, though consumption remained stunted over the first two months of 2021 amid more COVID-19 restrictions, according to California Independent System Operator (CAISO) data.

Consulting firm seeks LCFS transition for another California offset project

A sustainability consulting firm is aiming to transfer another California Carbon Offset (CCO) project into the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) for a negative carbon, electricity-based pathway, according to documents published Monday.

North American offset developer hires executive from environmental services firm

An executive from a US-based environmental services company has joined a North American offset project developer and advisory firm, Carbon Pule has learned.

EMEA

Germany’s RWE reports 23% cut in ETS-covered emissions for 2020

ETS-covered emissions from Germany-based utility RWE dropped 23% last year, as higher carbon prices reduced the profitability of the company’s coal-based units, it said in its full-year results on Tuesday.

Czech utility CEZ sees thermal output drop nearly 14% as coal divestment continues

Czech utility CEZ saw a 13.9% drop in its EU ETS-covered thermal generation for 2020 as a major coal facility closed, it reported on Tuesday, detailing plans to offload more coal assets this year.

EU Market: EUAs retreat further amid profit-taking, weaker energy

EUAs lost nearly 2% on Tuesday, falling back further from the previous session’s record high amid weaker energy markets and profit-taking, and despite resolute bullish sentiment.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Carbon Pulse has teamed up with CME Group to provide its clients with regular updates on the global carbon markets. Check out these briefs for the latest insights on pressing trends and events impacting markets, published every other week. Registration required.

INTERNATIONAL

Transatlantic ties – The EU wants to work with the US to take into account aviation’s non-CO2 impacts to climate change, including potentially imposing pollution standards on jet fuel, senior European Commission official Damien Meadows told the European Parliament. He said another option could be to design transatlantic flight routes to minimise their condensation trails. (Reuters)

Lebanon leading – Lebanon on Tuesday submitted its updated Paris NDC to the UN climate agency. The country upped its unconditional GHG reduction target to 20% below business-as-usual levels by 2030, compared to 15% previously, while raising its conditional target by a mere one percentage point to 31%. Lebanon also said that while it does not foresee using market-based mechanisms under Paris’ Article 6, it would not exclude the possibility of doing so. (See Carbon Pulse’s NDC tracker for info on other countries’ old and new UN climate pledges)

Quality control – Scientists are sounding the alarm over the lack of verifiable quality of privately-generated corporate climate risk assessments, Politico reports. As firms respond to shareholders’ and activists’ growing calls for climate risk disclosure, a cottage industry of consultants has emerged to provide it – but with methodology often hidden from public view and expert scrutiny. Experts warn the false security potentially created by such modelling could pose risks to firms and shareholders, not to mention the actual people vulnerable to extreme climate impacts. (Climate Nexus)

Out of control – The world’s three biggest consumers of coal are getting ready to boost usage so much that it’ll almost be as if the pandemic-induced drop in emissions never happened. US power plants are going to consume 16% more coal this year than in 2020, and then another 3% in 2022, the Energy Information Administration said last week. China and India, which together account for almost two-thirds of demand, have no plans to cut back in the near term. According to Bloomberg, this means higher emissions, a setback for climate action ahead of international talks this year intended to raise the level of ambition from commitments under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gases.

Reinsurance reassurance – Insurer Swiss Re announced new measures to support the transition to a net zero economy by 2050, which encompasses reinsurance underwriting, asset management, and its own operations, Insurance Journal reports. As a founding member of the UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, Swiss Re has previously committed to transitioning its investment portfolio to net zero emissions by 2050.

AMERICAS

Power preparations – New US EPA administrator Michael Regan confirmed on Monday that the agency is preparing new regulations on the electricity sector in an effort to meet President Biden’s aggressive climate change goals. Regan told The New York Times his immediate priorities for the EPA are “rebuilding the morale” at the agency, restoring the role of science – and scientists – in developing air and water rules, and ensuring new environmental policies do not further hurt communities already disproportionately affected by toxic sites. He was not specific on the precise new policies the EPA will undertake to rein in CO2 emissions or when they will be made public, but Regan said the agency will “absolutely” develop new rules for power plants and automobiles, and that EPA staff is currently working on those plans.

Deb’s department – Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo, on Monday became the first Native American Cabinet secretary in US history. The Senate voted 51-40 Monday to confirm the Democratic congresswoman to lead the Interior Department, an agency that will play a crucial role in the Biden administration’s ambitious efforts to combat climate change and conserve nature. As a congresswoman, Haaland was a frequent critic of President Donald Trump’s administration’s deregulatory agenda and supported limits on fossil fuel development on public lands. She also opposes fracking, and was one of the first lawmakers to support the Green New Deal, which calls for drastic action to address climate change and economic inequality. (NPR)

Quad stretch – US solar power capacity is expected to quadruple with the industry having a record-setting year in 2020, according to a year-in-review report released Tuesday by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie. The forecast comes as the sector saw a banner year, despite the pandemic, in which companies installed 19.2 GW of new capacity last year, or 43% higher than in 2019. Residential deployment increased 11% in 2020, though it was slower growth than the 18% in 2019 due to the pandemic. (Politico)

EMEA

Constitution cliff-face – French lawmakers in the National Assembly approved a plan to change the country’s constitution to reinforce environmental protection. The bill proposes to modify the first article of the French constitution and add that France “guarantees the preservation of the environment and of biological diversity, and fights against climate change.” It will now have to be discussed by the more reluctant higher Senate chamber, with identical approved wording needed before the proposed reform can be put to a referendum. (Politico)

Bulgaria goes green – Bulgarian political parties are showing an uncharacteristic interest in green policies ahead of elections on Apr. 4, not least because the country is one of the largest per capita beneficiaries of EU funds and is now required to invest in climate and environmental issues, Euractiv Bulgaria reports. The bloc’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) reserved up to €10.4 bln for Bulgaria, an amount equivalent to 17% of the country’s GDP. According to a deal reached in December, 37% of the funding will be allocated to climate policies. This has sharpened minds, prompting Bulgarian politicians to tune in to the green transition, with hydrogen becoming a new mantra.

AND FINALLY…

Riot act – Rioters who charged the US Capitol on Jan. 6 hoping to preserve Donald Trump’s power may have actually hurt the former president’s environmental legacy, E&E News reports. This comes down to a technical provision in the Congressional Review Act that requires hard copies of regulations be sent from the Senate parliamentarian’s office to committees before they are formally “received by the Congress”, with agencies needing to send the regulation to both the Office of the Federal Register and to Congress to finalise it. On Jan. 6, the EPA sent three regulations to the Senate parliamentarian, including the country’s first-ever GHG emissions rule for airplanes, which environmentalists dismissed as useless. After receiving the rules, the parliamentarian had to route them to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) — a process that can take several days. But on Jan. 6, the far-right pro-Trump mob ransacked the office, toppling over file cabinets and strewing documents across the floor. Records show that the EPA rules finally made it to EPW on Jan. 22, after President Biden took office and White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain issued a memo to freeze all Trump rules that had not gone into effect. “The rioters to some extent worked against their saviour Donald Trump,” one source said.

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