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The EU’s objective to go beyond net zero emissions after 2050 highlights the need for a policy on carbon removals, as the European Commission prepares two key legislative proposals to compensate for and certify carbon sinks.
A bipartisan group of Senators approved a resolution on Wednesday that would nullify Trump-era regulations on methane emissions for the oil and gas sector, effectively reimposing Obama-era rules that sought to cut output of the climate-warming pollutant.
Large stationary installations regulated under Canada’s ‘backstop’ output-based pricing system (OBPS) will likely not use any Alberta offsets for compliance against 2020 emissions, as higher prices and political risk make such purchases difficult, a panel heard Wednesday.
Dominion Energy argued its auction-centric RGGI procurement strategy is a prudent approach to meet compliance obligations at a electricity rate hearing Wednesday, while adding the Virginia-based utility is also working on a multi-year secondary market purchase to cover CO2 output.
California regulator ARB issued roughly 63,000 new compliance offsets to two livestock projects this week, while Quebec divvied out over 40,000 credits for use in its cap-and-trade programme, according to data published Wednesday.
Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator is moving forward with plans to set up an exchange for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), in a bid to boost transparency and cut costs as the nation’s voluntary carbon market expands.
Another planned huge coal-fired power plant in Japan was put to rest this week as the government’s more ambitious climate policy and overall dubious market outlook for fossil fuels put the country on a lower-carbon path.
A $40/tonne carbon price and a bump in variable renewable energy capacity could shave a quarter off CO2 emissions from Thailand’s power sector by the end of the decade, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
EUAs extended their all-time high on Wednesday, breaking above €48 amid rising energy prices, surging investor interest, and as buyers reached their last possible moment to cover 2020 compliance.
Utility RWE reported a 33.5% year-on-year rise in its EU ETS-covered thermal generation in Q1, the company said on Wednesday, boosting the carbon demand of one of the market’s biggest buyers.
British govt sets out eligibility criteria for UK ETS auction participation, publishes CORSIA consultation response
The British government on Wednesday set out the eligibility criteria for participation in its carbon allowance auctions, which are scheduled to kick off next month.
Large US industrial timber companies are beginning to embrace reforestation through carbon finance, leaving small forest owners and government agencies key to scaling up offset efforts, a conference heard Wednesday.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) of various types is technologically ready to be deployed at scale but needs streamlined permitting, increased tax incentives, and broad public outreach to do so, a conference heard on Wednesday.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Powering Past Greenwash – An attempt by governments to encourage countries and businesses around the world to quit coal for power generation is failing to make an impact, and in danger of being used as “greenwash”, an assessment has found. The Powering Past Coal Alliance is led by the UK and Canada, with 111 members including 24 governments, local governments, and businesses. Members are required to show they are on a pathway to eliminating coal-fired power plants before 2030 in the case of developed countries, and 2050 for developing states, to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals. But the NGO Reclaim Finance has found that some members, including the UK and Canada, are continuing to expand the use of coal, in ways that will increase GHGs and could help to bust the global carbon budget. (Guardian)
Flare up – In an unprecedented year for the oil and gas industry, oil production declined by 8% in 2020 while global gas flaring reduced by 5%, according to satellite data compiled by the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR). Oil production dropped from 82 mln barrels/day in 2019 to 76 mln in 2020, as global gas flaring reduced from 150 billion cubic meters in 2019 to 142 bcm in 2020. Nonetheless, the world still flared enough gas to power sub-Saharan Africa. The US accounted for 70% of the global decline, with flaring falling by 32% from 2019 to 2020 due to an 8% drop in oil production, combined with new infrastructure to use gas that would otherwise be flared. But satellite data from 2020 reveals that Russia, Iraq, Iran, the United States, Algeria, Venezuela and Nigeria remain the top seven gas flaring countries for nine years running, since the first satellite was launched in 2012. These seven countries produce 40% of the world’s oil each year, but account for roughly two-thirds of global flaring. “This trend is indicative of ongoing, though differing, challenges facing these countries. For example, the United States has thousands of individual flare sites, difficult to connect to a market, while a few high flaring oil fields in East Siberia in the Russian Federation are extremely remote, lacking the infrastructure to capture and transport the associated gas.”
Methane from gas flaring contributes significantly to global warming because it is over 80 times more powerful than CO2 on a 20-year basis.
Methane must – Aggressive action to slash methane pollution could slow global warming by as much as 30%, new research shows. The study, in press at the journal Environmental Research Letters, comes ahead of a UN report to be released next week that will call for “urgent steps [to] be taken to reduce methane emissions this decade.” Ilissa Ocko, senior climate scientist at EDF and a lead author of the study, told the Washington Post that “people talk about net zero in 2050, but what the temperature will be in 2050 will be determined by what we do now.” A full-scale effort to implement existing technologies to cut methane pollution could have a significant impact on efforts to avoid the most extreme impacts of climate change, the study says. (Climate Nexus)
Shell shock – Royal Dutch Shell’s climate change strategy does not go far enough and investors should advise against it at an upcoming meeting, the UK’s Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) said Wednesday. Shell has asked investors to vote on its energy transition strategy, although the vote is advisory only. Its plans call for reaching net zero emissions by 2050 supported by buyers of its fossil fuels investing in carbon offsets from nature-based or carbon capture projects. LAPFF, whose 82 members manage over £300 bln in assets, said it recommended members oppose the strategy at Shell’s AGM on May 18. (Reuters)
Poverty busting – Climate policies that redistribute carbon pricing revenues could help to reduce extreme poverty in developing countries, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications. The authors analysed climate policies consistent with the 1.5C global warming limit, implemented through ambitious emission prices in industrialised countries and initially lower prices in developing countries. They found that without “progressive redistribution”, climate policies could push an additional 50 mln people into poverty. However, using a carbon price to fund an equal-per-capita climate dividend would offset this policy side effect, reducing those in poverty by 6 mln.
Clean up the ship – MEPs call for a cleaner maritime transport in a resolution voted Tuesday on technical and operational standards for ships, through the promotion of alternative fuels. The European Parliament previously called for shipping companies to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and the inclusion of maritime transport in the EU ETS as of 2022. In order to achieve significant cuts in GHGs, the resolution demands to gradually phase out the use of heavy fuel oil in ships and “deplores the distortion of competition on the European market between fossil energies, which benefit from more favourable tax treatment, and clean alternative fuels from renewable sources”.
Almost there – The shipping industry’s leading global lobby group, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), last week ended its years-long opposition to carbon pricing. Now a host of NGOs are demanding the ICS and other shipping bodies ditch their $5 bln R&D decarbonisation proposals and instead back the $100/tonne carbon levy, submitted to the IMO earlier this year by the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands. In an open letter penned by the Environmental Defense Fund, Transport & Environment, Pacific Environment, Carbon Market Watch, and WWF International, the NGOs welcomed the lobby groups’ change of stance, announced as the US made a big about turn on shipping and the environment, calling for the industry to be zero emissions by 2050. (Splash)
Grid gazillions – The White House announced Tuesday it plans to pour $8 bln into boosting the grid, a key piece of President Joe Biden’s plans for growing renewable energy. The proposal would have the Energy Department tap into $5 bln in unused loan authority to back new transmission projects and spend $3.25 bln on transmission construction inside the 15 states in the Western Area Power Administration. The administration hopes to spur on the power transmission industry to roll out lines needed to connect areas best suited for renewable energy generation to customers in urban clusters. (Politico)
Landfill of 10,000 Lakes – OPAL Fuels and NextEra Energy Marketing on Wednesday announced plans to build the first landfill renewable natural gas (RNG) facility in Minnesota. he project will be located at a landfill owned by Republic Services and interconnect with a pipeline owned by Xcel Energy. Once completed in the first quarter of 2022, the project will capture and convert landfill methane to produce approximately 2,140 dekatherms of RNG per day, which is enough to eliminate 43,900 MtCO2 and offset direct (Scope 1) emissions from 400 heavy-duty (Class 8) trucks every year. OPAL will operate and manage the RNG project, and clean renewable natural gas fuel will be dispensed to customers via OPAL’s natural gas fuelling stations.
No luck – The Queensland government has deemed “not suitable” a new open-cut coalmine proposed by one of Australia’s richest men, Clive Palmer. The mine, which would have dug up as much as 18 Mt of coal annually was considered to pose a “number of unacceptable risks”, including to the Great Barrier Reef, ruled the QLD Department of Environment and Science. (Guardian)
Sweep stakes – Sweep, the first platform that allows companies to democratise carbon reduction by mobilising their employees and external partners to reach credible net zero emissions, on Wednesday announced it has closed a $5 mln funding round and is launching its public beta. For the first time, companies can manage and reduce carbon emissions by uniting employees and external partners at every level via an easy-to-use platform. This can include thousands of employees, suppliers, and distributors located anywhere in the world, and will give companies an efficient mechanism to tackle their indirect Scope 3 emissions.
SCIENCE & TECH
Accelerator motivator – The Carbon to Value Initiative (C2V Initiative), a multi-year collaboration among The Urban Future Lab at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Greentown Labs, and Fraunhofer USA, has selected 10 startups for the first year of its accelerator programme. The C2V Initiative is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Consulate General of Canada in New York. This initiative aims to create “a thriving innovation ecosystem” for the commercialisation of technologies that capture, convert, and store CO₂ into valuable end products or services. They received more than 130 applications from 26 countries, and whittled that down to 10 companies chosen to participate in the first cohort of the accelerator programme. They include:
- Air Company – a company that transforms CO2 into high-purity alcohols that can be used in spirits, sanitizers, and a variety of consumer industries.
- Carbfix – an Iceland-based firm that provides a natural and permanent carbon storage solution by turning CO2 into stone underground.
- Made of Air – which creates drop-in ready, durable thermoplastics using carbon captured by biomass.
- Planetary Hydrogen – a Canadian company that combines hydrogen production with CO2 sequestration via ocean air capture.
The C2V Initiative will host a virtual public kickoff event on May 6 where attendees can meet the participating startups, hear from experts, and network with active leaders in this space.
Internal (combustion) struggle – New peer-reviewed analysis in Nature Energy shows that roughly one fifth of electric car owners in California are switching back to internal combustion vehicles. The survey, which looked at EVs purchased from 2012-18 and discontinued in 2015-19, found the “discontinuance” rate was 20.1% for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle owners and 18.1% for full battery EVs. Discontinuance is correlated with having fewer household cars and dissatisfaction with charging convenience, while other factors are more particular to vehicle type. (Axios)
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