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India’s power minister shied away from revealing any intentions to set a net zero objective for the country in an IEA high-level summit on Wednesday, while demanding developed nations start considering negative emissions targets.
The European Commission may have overestimated the costs of increasing the EU’s climate target by 2030 to at least 55% below 1990 levels, according to a report released Wednesday that could support EU lawmakers in their push for an even more ambitious goal.
EUAs moved higher Wednesday to maintain bullish sentiment even after a weaker auction and despite an upcoming holiday pause to the sales, as trading data showed the number of participants in the market surged to a new all-time high despite investors reducing their holdings.
The Romanian government has granted CE Oltenia €241.4 million to help cover its 2020 EU ETS obligations, according to an emergency ordinance adopted as the utility’s restructuring is still under EU investigation.
Germany adopted a regulation on Monday that entitles EU ETS-covered companies to compensation for costs faced under its national emissions trading scheme (nEHS) for transport and heating fuels.
The Canadian federal government can mandate that provinces increase the ambition of their own programmes going forward after the Supreme Court of Canada’s judgement upheld the constitutionality of the federal ‘backstop’ CO2 pricing regime, according to experts.
President Joe Biden’s administration unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan on Wednesday that would create a clean energy standard for the power sector, allocate funding to electric vehicle charging stations, and jump start research and development for clean technology.
Virginia will not oppose utility Dominion Energy’s rate request to cover RGGI allowance procurements over the next 18 months, while the generator revealed the value of its hedged position in the Northeast cap-and-trade scheme, according to filings released this week.
Japan’s environment ministry has launched a review of its Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM), with a view to making the scheme consistent with the Paris Agreement on issues such as avoiding double counting of carbon credits.
The 215 facilities covered by Australia’s Safeguard Mechanism emitted 143 MtCO2e in FY2019-20, but only a handful of smaller installations had to surrender offsets to meet their targets, according to Clean Energy Regulator data.
UN climate finance envoy Mark Carney’s Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets (TSVCM) hopes to conclude this summer with a report describing provisional agreement on environmental principles for verified emissions reductions (VERs), but must now confront long-standing issues around the role of REDD+ projects and governance.
Asset manager VanEck on Wednesday launched a new ETF focused on companies that generate at least 50% of their revenues from hydrogen projects or have the potential to do so.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
We like the stocks – The value of share offerings in fossil fuel companies has dropped by almost 20% since 2012, while low-carbon companies gained ground in a shift towards clean energy, a report by think-tank Carbon Tracker showed on Wednesday. Between 2012 and 2020, investors have bought almost $640 bln of equities issued by oil, gas, and coal producers, fossil fuel-dependent utilities, pipelines and service companies. However, their investments have lost roughly $123 billion or nearly 20% in value, despite bullish equity markets during much of that period. That contrasts with activity in clean energy. Investors bought $56 billion in equity from clean-energy companies, which has gained $77 billion in value, the report found. In 2020, clean energy initial public offerings (IPOs) overtook carbon-heavy flotations worldwide for the first time, suggesting investors are shifting finance away from coal, oil and gas, which have struggled since the beginning of the pandemic. (Euractiv, Reuters)
Paradise lost – The planet lost an area of tree cover larger than the UK in 2020, including more than 4.2 mln hectares of primary tropical forests, according to data released Wednesday by the University of Maryland and summarised on Mongabay. The data, which is now available on think-tank WRI’s Global Forest Watch, indicated that forest loss remained persistently high in the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, but “does not show obvious, systemic shifts in forest loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to WRI. Destruction of primary tropical forests released 2.64 bln tonnes of CO2 last year, an amount equivalent to the annual emissions of 570 mln cars.
Coming down the mountain – A new study from researchers in British Columbia estimates that Canada will lose C$11.9 bln because of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. The paper from a team at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management argues there is no likely scenario in which the project would lead to a net benefit. The challenging conditions for the project include an increase in construction costs, the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline to the US, stronger federal policies to address climate change, and a weaker market for oil. None of these factors were taken into account when the National Energy Board recommended the approval of the expansion project in 2016 and then again in 2019. The Canadian government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline from energy giant Kinder Morgan in 2018 for C$4.5 bln, and the SFU study points out that Ottawa has not provided the public with an evaluation of the costs and benefits that led to that decision. (CBC)
Cockpit commitment – Airlines for America, a group representing major US airlines, said on Tuesday it is committed to working with the aviation industry and the government to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The trade group said it intends to work towards a rapid expansion of the production and deployment of commercially viable sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to make 2 bln gal (7.6 bln L) available to US aircraft operators in 2030. (Reuters)
Cementing it – The California Nevada Cement Association announced plans this week to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045. The group said its climate goal could be hit through changes to process emissions, combustion emissions, and fuel switching, or via electricity generation. All of these pathways include numerous levers, such as biomass fuels, CCS, or on-site renewables to achieve the GHG reduction goals. Electricity generation appeared to have the fewest number of obstacles to achieve the net zero commitment, while the others faced supply limitations, funding problems, or other roadblocks.
Just try us – The EU would have “no hesitation” in using a carbon border adjustment mechanism to protect its industries if the bloc’s trading partners put companies in the region at a disadvantage over climate targets, the EU climate tsar has said. Speaking at an FT climate conference on Tuesday, Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president for the EU’s green deal, said the bloc’s trading partners should expect the tool to be used if they did not meet the required standards. “If there is a serious risk of carbon leakage, if we take the measures to comply with [the Paris Agreement] and others don’t, and it leads to a disadvantage to our industries, I will have no hesitation whatsoever to introduce carbon border adjustment mechanism,” he said. If countries were moving “in the same direction, even if they take different paths” then “the reason for the carbon border adjustment mechanism disappears”, he added. Brussels has said the mechanism will be designed to target imports “surgically”, and it is expected to be applied initially to certain goods from neighbouring countries in eastern Europe, Turkey and north Africa.
SCIENCE & TECH
Frequent flyer foe – An elite minority of frequent flyers cause most of the climate damage resulting from aviation’s emissions, according to a report by the charity group Possible. It found a worldwide pattern of a small group taking a large proportion of flights, while many people do not fly at all. As a result, Possible is calling for the introduction of a frequent flyer levy, whereby the first flight in a year incurs little or no tax and it therefore does not penalise annual family holidays. But the levy then ramps up for each additional flight. (Guardian)
Hy in the sky – A startup working to make hydrogen-powered airplanes has raised $24.3 mln from investors including funds backed by Bill Gates and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing. Bloomberg reports that ZeroAvia will use the cash to start scaling up its hydrogen-powered propulsion system to work with larger planes that could carry at least 50 passengers. Its latest and biggest model currently has around 19 seats. The funding for ZeroAvia follows a round at the end of last year that drew nearly $38 mln, including support from the UK government, to advance the company’s technology in a smaller aircraft. Separately, electric aviation startup Lilium is going public via merger with a special purpose acquisition company as it looks to commercialise a seven-seat vertical takeoff and landing plane (VTOL) for regional travel, Axios reports.
Off the wagen, day two – Volkswagen of America issued false statements this week saying it would change its brand name to “Voltswagen” to stress its commitment to electric vehicles, only to reverse course and admit that the supposed name change was a joke. A company spokesperson said Tuesday that the statement had been a pre-April Fool’s Day joke after having insisted Monday that the release was legitimate and the name change accurate. The company’s false statement was distributed again Tuesday, saying the brand-name change reflected a shift to more battery-powered electric vehicles. Volkswagen’s intentionally fake news release, highly unusual for a major public company, coincides with its efforts to repair its image following the 2015 scandal in which it cheated on government emissions tests and allowed diesel-powered vehicles to illegally pollute the air. (AP)
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