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The Canadian federal government has the authority to impose its ‘backstop’ CO2 levy and output-based pricing system (OBPS) on recalcitrant provinces, the nation’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday, in a major victory for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s landmark climate strategy.
The European Parliament is not giving up on raising the bloc’s 2030 climate target to at least 60% below 1990 levels in negotiations for the European Climate Law, an MEP said Thursday, in the face of opposition from the Commission and EU nations.
Poland has once again asked the European Commission to investigate sharply rising EU carbon prices, as trading data shows speculators are building larger positions in the market.
EUAs fell by as much as 5% on Thursday to slip below €40 for the first time in two weeks, as markets sank while coronavirus infections rose in Europe, dimming recovery prospects.
Serbia’s system to monitor, report, and verify (MRV) greenhouse gas emissions entered into force this week as the government adopted its Climate Law, marking a stepping stone for the introduction of a national carbon market.
The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions fell a massive 8.9% in 2019, according to provisional government data released Thursday, with drops in almost every sector due to reduced activity caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
German energy exchange EEX has been selected to handle the sales and auctions of emissions allowances under the country’s new domestic carbon pricing scheme.
RGGI Allowance (RGA) values increased on thin secondary market volume this week to counteract some losses from earlier in March, while California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) edged closer to the WCI floor price amid rising Q2 auction volume.
A Virginia state court on Thursday set a hearing late this summer for a lawsuit filed by an industrial group that challenges the legality of the state’s RGGI-modelled cap-and-trade regulation, court records show.
Consumer goods giant Unilever, long a leader in the corporate sustainability field, will put its plan for meeting a 2039 net zero emissions target to an advisory shareholder vote in May.
Carbon intensive companies aren’t transitioning onto mitigation pathways fast enough to meet 2050 net zero emission targets, according to a survey of investors and executives published on Thursday that found respondents mostly blaming a lack of investment.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Shipping surge – Total shipping industry emissions grew by almost 10% from 2012 to 2018, accounting for 2.89% of total global anthropogenic emissions, up from 2.76% in 2012, according to the fourth International Maritime Organisation (IMO) GHG study, the executive summary of which was published on Wednesday. The study marks the first time the specific emissions share of international shipping has been calculated and also confirms that the carbon intensity of shipping was 21-29% lower in 2018 than 2008. (BusinessGreen)
Pricing power – To rein in this rising output, NGO Carbon Market Watch on Thursday proposed a worldwide shipping carbon price that establishes a path to the sector’s full decarbonisation, supports vulnerable regions, and channels revenue to R&D to facilitate further decarbonisation. The campaigners said the proposal should complement other measures, including regional policies such as the EU ETS, and use a rebates system to aid those most affected by the transition. They added that the policy should not include offsets, free allocations, or generous exemptions.
Mixed signs – The European Commission’s upcoming June package of energy and climate laws will “propose the extension of the EU ETS to sectors such as building and road transport,” the bloc’s energy commissioner Kadri Simson said on Thursday. Yet the Commission’s climate chief Frans Timmermans, speaking at a separate event, seemed to contradict Simson, saying: “Will we extend ETS to transport and buildings? It’s still being analysed”. Timmermans has said publicly that he is personally against including road transport in the ETS because it risks pushing up fuel prices and hurting the poor disproportionately. Brussels is currently analysing different options, including the expansion of the current ETS, or the creation of a separate system for the two sectors. (Euractiv)
Organic farming goals – The European Commission on Thursday said it would expand financial and policy support to help achieve a goal for a quarter of the EU’s farmland to be organic by 2030. In its strategy, the EU said it will spend €49 mln on promoting organic products this year, 27% of its total budget for promoting EU agricultural products at home and abroad. The Commission added that the EU’s farming subsidy programme, which is being reformed, will offer farmers €38-58 bln over 2023-27 for eco-schemes, including organic production. (Reuters)
Emerald emissions – Ireland’s coalition government has approved a climate bill that enshrines emissions reduction targets in law and puts the country on a path to carbon neutrality by 2050. The proposed law would commit Ireland to cutting its emissions by 51% between 2018 and 2030 and to net zero no later than 2050. The government is pushing it through parliament as priority legislation. The country’s environment minister Eamon Ryan previously said Ireland would match the EU’s emissions 2030 target, which is on course to be at least 55% below 1990 levels. Ireland’s 2030 goal works out at a 45% reduction if the baseline is set t0 1990, according to campaign group Friends of the Irish Environment. The new law will require the government to adopt a series of five-year carbon budgets across all sectors over the next 15 years. Ministers will be required to appear before a climate committee each year to report on how individual sectors have performed. Ireland will introduce its first carbon budget later this year. (Climate Home)
Danske ban – Denmark’s Danske Bank will phaseout companies with coal-fired power production from its investment funds and lending portfolios by 2030. The bank said in a press release that the timeline for phasing out coal and peat “will be in line with the IPCC’s recommendation that all coal-fired power stations in the EU and OECD countries must be shut by 2030 at the latest, and by 2040 in the rest of the world”. As a first step, Danske Bank said it will refrain from investing in companies that generate more than 5% of their revenues from thermal coal mining as well as coal and peat-fired power generation, unless they have a credible plan to transition below the threshold.
Case dismissed – The European Court of Justice has decided to uphold a judgment of the first instance court (European General Court) and to dismiss the “People’s Climate Case” initiated by 10 families and the indigenous Saami youth organisation on procedural grounds. In 2018, families from Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Romania, Kenya, Fiji, and the association Sáminuorra representing the indigenous Sámi youth, came together to take the EU to court over its previous 2030 climate target to reduce emissions by at least 40%. The plaintiffs argued that the EU’s target was objectively insufficient to prevent the climate crisis and failed to protect their human rights, such as their right to life, health, occupation, and property, which they said are already being affected by the worsening impacts of climate change. Europe’s top court said the plaintiffs did not have a right to challenge the EU for its climate inaction, based on case law dating back to the 1960s, whereby an individual must be “uniquely” affected by an EU legislative act in order to be allowed to challenge it. (CAN Europe)
CRA reversal – US lawmakers are weighing using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse a Trump era-rule that limits the EPA’s ability to regulate methane. Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Angus King (I-ME) have drafted a resolution of disapproval on the August methane rule, according to a copy reviewed by The Hill, the first step in using the CRA to unwind a regulation. The act allows Congress to nix any regulations finalised in the previous 60 legislative days, a period stretching back to mid-August. Critics described the former Trump administration’s rule as a gift to the oil and gas industry, eliminating existing requirements on oil and gas companies to install technology to monitor methane emissions from pipelines, wells, and facilities.
Cross-aisle CCUS – Sens. Tina Smith and Shelley Moore Capito introduced legislation on Thursday aimed at further bolstering tax credits for CCUS technologies. Backers range from climate hawks like Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Brian Schatz to the leaders of the Energy Committee – Sen. John Barrasso and Manchin – and conservative Republicans like Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer. Among the provisions in the legislation are a five-year extension for developers to claim the ‘45Q’ CCUS federal tax credit, the ability for direct payments of the credit, and a massive expansion of payments for direct air capture (DAC) projects. (Politico)
Not Stey-ing away – Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is surveying his chance of winning a California gubernatorial election after Republicans submitted more than 2 mln signatures to recall Governor Gavin Newsom, according to Politico. A Steyer entity commissioned a poll among state voters that asked whether they were willing to oust Newsom. The poll also included a variety of Democrat fallback options, including Steyer. Politico reported the poll also questioned voters on the pandemic, environmental issues, and other topics important to Steyer. Democrats have largely rallied behind the first-term governor after a wave of criticism over his handling of the pandemic led to the recall effort.
SCIENCE & TECH
Soil foil – Soil’s capacity to store carbon may be less than previously thought, according to a study published in Nature. The amount of carbon stored in soil is approximately triple that stored in living plants, but as rising CO2 levels increase plant growth, the scientists found, soil carbon storage decreases. “We expected faster plant growth and more biomass to increase soil organic carbon, as extra leaves and biomass fall to the forest floor [but] it didn’t.” Stanford professor and senior author Rob Jackson told Earther. The findings, the scientists say, mean global heating could accelerate more quickly than previously expected. (Climate Nexus)
Friends don’t let friends drive solo – A solitary trip in a petrol or diesel-powered car may release more emissions per passenger than an intra-EU flight, a new EU study into the environmental impact of transport modes has found. “The emission impacts of aviation are invariably higher on a passenger-kilometre basis” than rail, found the report, produced by the European Environment Agency. “However, flying is not necessarily the most harmful choice. This role is often taken by the conventional car, if single occupancy is assumed,” it adds. While vehicles with a single occupant were found to be the most polluting transport mode over 500 km, the same car journey with multiple passengers dropped per person emissions below that of air travel. Indeed, occupancy levels was the “single most important” factor when judging environmental harm. (Euractiv)
Bust in the wind – A Kansas legislative committee’s leader lit a political prairie fire with a proposal that critics say would end investments in a wind energy industry that has grown into the state’s largest supplier of electricity. State Senate Utilities Committee Chairman Mike Thompson said Wednesday that he is trying to protect landowners who fear that a proliferation of large turbines in their rural areas will drop property values and harm their quality of life. Thompson, a conservative Shawnee Republican, is pursuing a bill that would impose statewide regulations limiting turbines to one per square mile and keeping them 1.5 miles from any home or public building. The proposal has split fellow Republicans and inspired a strong backlash not only from environmentalists but also economic development officials who see wind energy as a jobs creator. Thompson said he’s not backing off, but he also hadn’t scheduled a committee vote after two days of hearings this week. (AP)
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