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A two-track system for carbon offsetting both within and beyond nations’ Paris Agreement obligations could cut through the ongoing debate on whether to demand corresponding adjustments from host nations or restrict voluntary market activities to non-NDC sectors, according to a recent report.
Japan is considering upping its ambition under the Paris Agreement to a 40% cut below 2013 levels by 2030, compared to a 26% goal currently, according to the Kyodo news agency.
Japan’s Toho Gas on Thursday became the latest Asian energy firm to bundle an LNG shipment with carbon credits, saying it will continue to do so in the future.
Three Australians found guilty of carrying out a carbon credit tax scam over 2009-12 have been handed a multi-million-dollar fine by the federal court for luring customers to buy offsets that were never delivered.
NA Markets: CCA prices hit 1-month high amid rising gas production, as RGGI stagnates on thin volume
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices rose to a one-month high this week on more positive outlooks for refinery output and inflation, while RGGI allowances (RGAs) remained rangebound on the secondary market.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) outlined proposed changes to its draft final RGGI cap-and-trade regulation on Thursday, including a larger allowance budget for waste-coal facilities and other alterations to set-aside accounts.
A new private fund backed by several multinational consumer goods firms aims to raise more than $1 billion this year for performance-based forest conservation, using methodologies developed in carbon markets to offset impacts from agriculture and cultivated carbon sinks.
EUAs slipped back from this week’s record high levels on Thursday, with weaker energy markets helping to stall bullish momentum.
Analysts have significantly raised their forecasts for EU carbon allowances, with several now predicting prices will average around €100 for an entire year later this decade, as EUAs set all-time highs ahead of the release of major proposals to tighten the ETS and as new investors continue to pile into the market.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Methane blame – Atmospheric methane levels surged in 2020, a new report from NOAA shows, accelerating an increasing trend, alarming scientists, and possibly auguring a vicious cycle of global heating. NOAA also announced global atmospheric CO2 levels are higher than at any point in the last 3.6 mln years. About 60% of methane emissions are caused by human activity, and oil and gas operations are a major driver of recent increases. Methane is a far more potent heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide, and scientists are worried global warming could be triggering accelerated methane releases from tropical wetlands and melting arctic permafrost. Separately, one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change has also been revealed as a major contributor of methane, Bloomberg reports. The 12 highest methane emission rates detected this year by Kayrros SAS have occurred over Bangladesh, according to the Paris-based company, one of several that specialise in analysing satellite observations to locate leaks. “It has the strongest sustained emissions we’ve seen to date where we can’t clearly identify the source,” said Stephane Germain, president of GHGSat Inc, which also picked up the plumes. (Climate Nexus)
Blue debut – Norwegian energy firm Equinor and British utility SSE have agreed to jointly develop the world’s first 100% hydrogen-fuelled power plant in Britain. Keadby 3 would develop ‘blue hydrogen’ by 2027 with a new 900MW gas power plant fitted with CCS to also cut emissions from Britain’s Humber industrial cluster. Separately, European energy ministers have highlighted the need to create a stable regulatory framework for hydrogen in the EU that is capable of attracting private investors into a competitive and predictable market. Speaking at the conference “Hydrogen in Our Societies – Building Bridges” on Wednesday, a number of national politicians expressed the same point. (Reuters, Euractiv)
RSVP – Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is planning a climate change hearing next week, with oil executives invited to testify. According to Politico, leadership from BP America, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil were invited, with BP America Chairman and President David Lawler declining. Sanders told CBS that he plans to ask the executives what they’re doing to transition away from fossil fuels and that Lawler’s rebuff “tells me that these guys don’t want to answer hard questions.” Other witnesses include David Wallace-Wells, deputy editor at New York Magazine; founding partner of Kepos Capital Bob Litterman; and Joseph Stiglitz, the famed Columbia economics professor. Sanders could use the hearing to make the case that climate change poses such a high risk to US infrastructure that further spending is required in the proposed package.
Carbon Neutral Colombia – The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development on Wednesday launched the Carbon Neutral Colombia strategy, a programme that recognises and promotes the efforts of public and private sector organisations in reducing GHGs. The strategy includes the creation of the “NDC-Carbon Neutral” seal, a special recognition to entities that effectively contribute to the country’s medium and long-term climate change goals.
Go with the grove – A first-ever Chinese blue carbon project, a mangrove programme in Guangdong, has been awarded some 5,900 VCUs after being approved and verified under the VCS, according to Idea Carbon. The project is small and is expected to only generate some 160,000 offsets over 25 years, but represents a milestone for China in seeking out new sources of nature-based carbon credits. The first batch of units will be purchased by the Beijing Entrepreneur Environmental Protection Foundation.
Cop-out – Swedish electric performance automaker Polestar says it will build the world’s first truly zero-emissions vehicle without relying on carbon offsets, which it described as a “cop-out”. The company, which was spun out of Volvo and Volvo’s parent company Geely, framed its effort to cut carbon emissions by changing the way its cars are made as a “moonshot goal” that would result in the world’s first carbon neutral vehicle by 2030. According to The Verge, the real challenge for Polestar will be the elimination of emissions from its production process and supply chain. Several major automakers have pledged to phase out gas-powered vehicle production by a certain target date, including General Motors, Ford, and Polestar’s parent company, Volvo. But automobile production, including the mining of the rare earth minerals that go into lithium-ion batteries, is an intensely carbon-heavy process. Even reducing those emissions, to say nothing of eliminating them, will be a hugely consequential task.
SCIENCE & TECH
Coinage carnage – Carbon emissions from Bitcoin mining in China could exceed the total emissions of an entire European country within the next three years, new research suggests. A team of researchers from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, Cornell University in the US, and University of Surrey in the UK warns that if people continue to mine Bitcoin unchecked, the energy consumption associated with those activities could reach 297 TWh per year by 2024, more than the 290 TWh in electricity consumed by Italy in 2019. It could also threaten China’s emissions reduction targets, with the country aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060. The cryptocurrency’s carbon footprint is as big as one of China’s 10 largest cities, the study found. China accounts for more than 75% of bitcoin mining around the world. (Vice, BBC)
Grass-trackin’ – Reuters profiles the Saya de Malha, an underwater mountain plateau of seagrass the size of Switzerland governed by Seychelles and Mauritius. The countries are working with scientists to measure the carbon stored in seagrass, a first step toward accrediting offsets for eventual trading. Seagrasses could potentially store more than twice as much carbon as forests do on land, with at least 10 countries saying it would play a part in their NDCs.
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