CP Daily: Monday January 17, 2022

Published 04:07 on January 18, 2022  /  Last updated at 04:07 on January 18, 2022  /  Newsletter  /  No Comments

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

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TOP STORY

Virginia Republican governor commences process to end RGGI-linked programme

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) on Saturday issued an executive order to assess and ultimately sever the state’s RGGI-linked cap-and-trade regulation, though it is uncertain when or even if the new leader can end Old Dominion’s membership in the power sector carbon market without new legislation.

EMEA

Key lawmaker seeks to curb flexibilities for EU nations’ 2030 climate goals

EU member states should pursue emissions-cutting efforts in non-ETS sectors without resorting to flexibilities that may keep longer term targets out of reach, according to the lead parliamentarian for the bloc’s revised Effort-Sharing Regulation (ESR).

Euro Markets: EUAs slip along with energy markets as gas supply issues diminish

EUA prices fell in line with weaker gas and power markets on Monday amid forecasts for milder weather suggested gas supply is unlikely to be severely tested this winter, as demand for EUAs remained modest and trading activity was very limited.

ASIA PACIFIC

Shell sees increasing role for carbon price in China’s decarbonisation process

China’s domestic carbon price could rise 400% above current levels by 2030 and kick on from there as part of the country’s efforts to decarbonise by 2060, oil major Shell said in a report Monday.

Australia’s FFI scores German hydrogen supply agreement, as analysts predict bright future

The green energy arm of Australian iron ore mining giant Fortescue Metals Group, has added another green hydrogen deal to its list by signing a supply agreement with Covestro, a German chemicals company, FFI announced on Monday.

NZ Market: NZUs sprint to new high as demand holds firm

New Zealand carbon allowances hit a new record again on Monday, as the market continues to anticipate rising prices in the year ahead.

China thermal power generation rises 8.4% in 2021

China’s thermal power generation rose 8.4% in 2021, government data showed Monday, with the nation’s Covid recovery causing a surge in carbon emissions.

INTERNATIONAL

UN chief warns Davos on climate inaction, global risks

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Monday that there is no sign that governments are planning to effectively manage climate risks, urging the private sector to step up efforts and avoid greenwashing well ahead of November’s COP27 UN climate talks in Egypt.

Carbon Cap fund ends 2021 with 59% gain as average carbon allowance price tops $60

Fund manager Carbon Cap’s World Carbon Fund closed 2021 with a 59% annual gain, as allowances prices in the five main cap-and-trade systems rose to an average of $60/tonne, the company said on Monday.

VOLUNTARY

VCM Report: Nature-based contract hits new heights while CORSIA units falter

Standardised nature-based voluntary emissions reductions (VER) prices found strength this week while technology-based CORSIA-eligible credits and others generally flatlined or sank.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

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INTERNATIONAL

Merkel moves – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has written to former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, asking her to lead a “high-level advisory board” on how to develop and manage global public goods such as oceans or the ozone layer, Politico reports, without saying where it got the information. Guterres is still waiting for a reply, but some UN diplomats are also keen for Merkel to fill the role of UN climate chief. That post will be available in the summer, when Patricia Espinosa’s term is up. Others who’d love the job include South Africa’s former foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Nigerian environment chief Sharon Ikeazor. Don’t rule out Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, and the inside candidate could be current UN envoy Selwin Hart, a climate adviser in Guterres’ office.

Steady as she goes – Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the World Economic Forum on Monday, but avoided making any new major announcements. He said China will implement the agreements reached at COP26 in Glasgow, and asked developed nations to fulfil their obligations to reduce emissions and provide climate finance for developing nations. He also repeated China’s ambitions to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060. (CNN)

EMEA

Call the midwife – A star-studded informal group including some of the hottest movers and shakers in EU climate policy was quietly established in December at the initiative of an influential German think-tank. Euractiv has the details of the forum whose aim is to bring the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ package of climate legislation over the line. Initially founded in 2012 to focus on the German energy transition, the think-tank Agora Energiewende has long branched out beyond Berlin, with new offices opened in Brussels, Tokyo, and Beijing over the years. But its latest coup, the creation in December of a high-profile group of EU climate policy advisers, may be one of its boldest undertakings to date. With its 25 high-profile members, the Agora Council for Europe is a “Who’s Who” of climate policy, with members including France’s green transition minister Barbara Pompili, Spain’s ecological transformation minister Teresa Ribera, Luxembourg’s energy minister Claude Turmes and Patrick Graichen, the right-hand man of Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck. Other influential members include big names in the European Parliament, high-level European Commission officials and think-tankers, as well as leaders from civil society and European industry. “The goal is to provide a forum for regular and confidential exchange on key aspects of the ‘Fit for 55’ package,” explained Matthias Buck, director for Europe at Agora Energiewende who is deputy chair of the group. The exchanges are designed to be as free and informal as possible and are regulated by the “Chatham House Rule,” which forbids participants from being directly quoted in written accounts of the discussions.

Omani hydrogen deal – UK oil major BP has formed a strategic partnership with Oman to progress a potential multi-gigawatt renewable energy and green hydrogen development by 2030, Upstream reports. The agreements will see the UK energy giant and Oman look at ways to collaborate in a number of areas, including a renewables strategy, regulation, the establishment of a renewable energy hub and the development and reskilling of the local workforce. Under the agreements, BP will also capture and evaluate solar and wind data from an 8,000 square kilometre area to help support Oman in evaluating and approving the development of future renewable energy hubs. These hubs could also potentially be used for the development of green hydrogen, both for domestic use and for export.

Back-up plan – The US government has held talks with several international energy companies on contingency plans for supplying natural gas to Europe if the conflict between Russia and Ukraine disrupts Russian supplies, two US officials and two industry sources said, Reuters reports. Any interruptions to Russia’s gas supply to Europe would exacerbate an energy crisis caused by a shortage of the fuel.

Not enough – Europe is gripped by one of the worst energy crunches in history, forcing politicians to step in as soaring prices threaten to leave millions of households unable to pay their bills, Bloomberg reports. But with market forces signalling that the crisis will last way beyond the winter, the dilemma facing leaderships is that their stopgap measures are unlikely to be enough. The cost of electricity and gas across the continent already looks like one of the biggest challenges facing nations as they navigate their way out of the pandemic. Ministers in the five biggest European economies — Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and Spain — have so far come up with a patchwork of grants and time-limited tax cuts to help consumers heat and power their homes.

His dark materials – Germany’s new agriculture minister Cem Ozdemir has used his maiden speech in parliament to outline an ambitious climate protection plan. As well as making the country’s agriculture sector more sustainable, the Green Party politician said he plans to protect moorland, replenish forests and improve the build-up of humus – a dark material made from plant and animal matter decay to store CO2 in the soil. On Monday, the minister attended the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in Brussels, the first to be held under France’s Council presidency. Ozdemir had said ahead of the meeting that he welcomed the French presidency’s decision to make low-carbon agriculture a central feature of the agenda. Germany has already announced that it will unveil a several pieces of key legislation over the coming months in order to meet 2030 emissions targets. (Clean Energy Wire)

ASIA PACIFIC

Gas-fired robbery – Australia’s giant offshore gas fields are paying almost no royalties, create few jobs and are a large and rising source of GHGs, according to a new report from the Australia Institute, The Guardian reports. The “Gas-fired robbery” report finds the state government of Western Australia (WA) receives only a tiny fraction of its revenue from an industry that generated $19.4 bln in WA exports last year. The report comes just days after a WA heatwave matched Australia’s hottest ever reliably recorded temperature of 50.7C and reportedly caused an outage at a nearby gas plant. The A$430 mln that ended up in the state’s coffers was a mere 1% of budget revenue, or half as much as it collected from motor vehicle registrations. By contrast, the iron-ore industry tipped $7.8 bln into the state’s 2019-20 budget, more than 18 times as much as gas. The report stated that the LNG industry’s impact on emissions is immense, with current and proposed LNG projects on track to emit 41.6 MtCO2 per year in Scope 1 and 2 emissions. These emissions are equivalent 47% of WA’s total emissions each year.

Clean spend – The Reliance Industries conglomerate led by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, announced plans to invest $76 bln toward clean energy projects, dwarfing an earlier commitment of $10 bln, Energy Voice reports. Reliance Industries has signed pacts with the state government of Gujarat in India for a total investment of 5.96 trillion rupees ($81 bln), according to an exchange filing. Of this, about 5 trillion rupees would be used over the next 15 years to build 100 GW of renewable power projects and a green hydrogen network, while 600 bln rupees will be for factories making solar modules, hydrogen electrolyzers, fuel cells and storage batteries, the filing said.

AMERICAS

How to spend it – Nova Scotia is investing C$37.3 mln from its Green Fund – financed by the Canadian province’s cap-and-trade system – in projects that support the goals of the Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act and that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This includes C$15 mln over three years for the Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund, which will support communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A request for proposals to develop and administer the fund was issued on Monday. Other projects include C$8 mln for a residential solar PV initiative, C$8 mln to extend for one year a low-cost subsidised energy assessment programme, and C$3.3 mln over three years to support the implementation of climate change initiatives by the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

SCIENCE & TECH

Don’t let the sun go dim on me – Planetary-scale engineering schemes designed to cool Earth’s surface and lessen the impact of global heating are potentially dangerous and should be blocked by governments, more than 60 policy experts and scientists said on Monday. Even if injecting billions of sulphur particles into the middle atmosphere – the most hotly debated plan for so-called solar radiation modification (SRM) – turned back a critical fraction of the Sun’s rays as intended, the consequences could outweigh any benefits, they argued in an open letter reported by AFP. “Solar geoengineering deployment cannot be governed globally in a fair, inclusive and effective manner,” said the letter. “We therefore call for immediate political action from governments, the United Nations and other actors to prevent the normalisation of solar geoengineering as a climate policy option.” An increase of 1.1C above mid-19th century levels has already boosted the intensity, frequency, and duration of deadly heat waves, droughts and megastorms. It has long been known that injecting a large quantity of reflective particles into the upper atmosphere could cool the planet. Nature sometimes does the same: debris from the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines lowered Earth’s average surface temperature for more than a year. But the open letter said there are several reasons to reject such a course of action. Artificially dimming the Sun’s radiative force is likely to disrupt monsoon rains in South Asia and western Africa, and could ravage the rain-fed crops upon which hundreds of millions depend for nourishment, several studies have shown. Meanwhile, this weekend’s eruption of the undersea Hunga-Tonga-Ha’pai volcano in the Pacific near Tonga “is probably not enough to meaningfully affect global temperatures,” said Carbon Brief’s Dr. Zeke Hausfather. “That being said, more measurements will be taken, and more eruptions are possible.”

AND FINALLY…

Copernicus loses sight – One of Earth’s most important satellites for observing disasters, climate change and environmental destruction went dark in the days before Christmas — and it’s not waking up, Politico reports. The loss of the Copernicus Sentinel-1B satellite threatens to hamper a host of services, businesses and research — from guiding the response to floods, to tracking oil spills and the melting of polar ice. Sentinel-1B was launched as part of Europe’s Copernicus Earth observation network of satellites which beam down high-quality imagery of the planet’s surface. That’s a central part of the EU’s space programme.

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