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France reported limited progress by EU nations on climate issues on Friday, as ministers from across the bloc raised multiple issues over plans for a second ETS for buildings and transport.
China will reduce by more than 8% the amount of CO2 permits per MWh of generated electricity handed out to coal-fired power plants in the national emissions trading scheme, analysts said Friday, citing exclusive information from the government.
China will explore the possibility of connecting its CO2 emissions trading scheme with the recently launched green power market, regulators said Friday, a move that could provide additional compliance pathways for emitters but spell the end for renewables-backed carbon offsets.
Activity in the Chinese carbon market has fallen off a cliff in recent days after the last stragglers finalised their 2019 and 2020 ETS compliance, while the government has yet to make a decision on allocation and offset rules going forward.
New Zealand carbon allowances touched the NZ$75 ($50.48) level for the first time in Friday trade, as sentiment remains bullish and permit holders are reluctant to part ways with their units.
EUAs posted a modest 2.9% week-on-week gain on Friday, but struggled to hold on to the previous session’s big rally as buyer interest appeared to diminish, while energy prices rallied on renewed concerns over escalating tensions in Ukraine.
A key EU parliamentarian wants all EU-connected flights to be fully powered by sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) by mid-century, EurActiv reported on Friday, citing a draft opinion on the bloc’s proposed green jet fuel law that would substantially raise ambition.
The EU should earmark revenue from its carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) and provide additional funding to help Western Balkan nations transition to clean energy, a German think-tank said in a report published this week.
A summary of legislative and regulatory action on carbon pricing, clean fuel standards, and clean energy at the US subnational and federal level this week, including in California, New Mexico, and Michigan.
Compliance entities slashed their net short California Carbon Allowance (CCA) position for the fourth straight week, while financial players trimmed their net long, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data published Friday.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Pershing his way to the exit – US climate diplomat Jonathan Pershing will leave the US State Department next month after a second spell as the country’s number two climate negotiator, the New York Times reported. Pershing, who had served as Todd Stern’s deputy in the negotiations leading up to the Paris Agreement, was brought back to the State Department by Secretary John Kerry last year to kick-start US engagement in the run-up to the Glasgow COP. He will return to the Hewlett Foundation, where he was programme director of environment after originally leaving government service in 2017.
Reaction to reactionaries – The US EPA in the coming weeks is preparing to Supreme Court-proof President Joe Biden’s ambitions for a carbon-free power grid by looking beyond direct GHG regulation and relying on the knock-on effect of stricter air, waste, and water rules. It’s a “comprehensive approach” to decarbonise the power grid that’s been in the works since the beginning of the Biden administration. But now that the Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case that could limit how EPA regulates carbon from the power sector, it has become even more important for the agency to find alternative ways to show it can deliver on the president’s promise of a power grid that is 80% clean by the end of this decade – and carbon neutral five years later. The possible components of the EPA comprehensive strategy all have the potential to change the economics of running and operating coal-fired power plants in such a way as to encourage early retirements. These could include actions related to EPA’s rules for power plant mercury and air toxics and pollution that crosses state lines or contributes to regional haze. EPA’s existing effluent guidelines and coal waste rules could also play a role. (E&E News)
A (dia)tribe about Quest – A massive Shell-owned capture facility in the Alberta tar sands releases more GHG pollution into the atmosphere than it pulls from it, a new report from Global Witness shows. Shell says its Quest hydrogen production facility pulled 5 MtCO2 from the atmosphere between 2015 and 2019, but the report found it released 7.5 Mt of GHGs, including ultra-heat-trapping methane, over that same timeframe. In response to the report, Shell said the facility “has met or exceeded our expectations.” The report shows, its author told Vice, that “blue hydrogen” produced from methane-based gas is not the “climate-friendly” solution the oil and gas industry claims it to be. (Climate Nexus)
PRIME time – A subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy has released details of plans to develop a $3.9 bln project in Iowa that would incorporate both wind and solar power. In a statement Wednesday, MidAmerican Energy, citing a filing to the Iowa Utilities Board, said the Wind PRIME development would add over 2 GW of wind generation and 50 MW of solar. In addition, MidAmerican said it was proposing feasibility studies centred around technologies such as energy storage, small modular nuclear reactors, and carbon capture. If Wind PRIME was granted approval, MidAmerican said it planned to wrap up construction in late 2024. (CNBC)
Hydrogen from nuclear – Saudi Arabia could produce hydrogen powered by nuclear energy, as part of a push by the world’s largest exporter of crude to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons, the kingdom’s energy minister said, S&P Global Platts reports. “There is another funky type of hydrogen which we call…pink now, so hopefully when we do our nuclear investments…you will see Saudi pink hydrogen being produced somewhere in Saudi Arabia,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told the Davos virtual World Economic Forum.
Volt of confidence – A firm planning the mass production of electric car batteries in the UK has secured government funding for a factory in the north of the country. Britishvolt, a UK battery company, announced plans for the so-called gigafactory two years ago. The UK government has committed about £100 mln to the project through its Automotive Transformation Fund, as reported by the BBC. Britishvolt also announced backing from investors Tritax and Abrdn, that will unlock about £1.7 bln in private funding. The government wants the UK to become a major force in the fast-growing market for electric cars. The government has set aside more than £800 mln to attract battery investment to the UK.
Swede the call – A coalition of 10 EU member states, led by Sweden, have written to the French EU Council Presidency and the European Commission to warn against the planned revision of sustainability criteria for bioenergy, saying it is too early to do so. The contents of the letter, reported by Euractiv, refer to a proposed revision of the EU’s renewable energy directive, which the European Commission tabled in July as part of the Fit for 55 policy package. Sustainability criteria for biomass had already been revised in 2018 as part of the directive’s last update, the signatories point out. Rewriting the rules now does not make sense, they argue, warning against repeated revisions of EU bioenergy legislation that risk undermining investor confidence in the sector.
Everyone but us – The EU needs to ensure that African states do not bear the brunt of its carbon border levy, Senegal’s President has warned EU leaders in the run up to next month’s EU-African Union summit in Brussels. Speaking at an event on Thursday hosted by the Africa-Europe Foundation, Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, who is due to take over the presidency of the African Union (AU) in February, urged EU leaders “to come to a joint strategy, but one that also takes into account the level of development of African countries”. EU and African Union leaders will meet in February for a summit aimed at agreeing on a ‘strategic partnership’ between the two blocs. European Council President Charles Michel, who has been tasked with most of the diplomatic preparation for the summit, described it as “an opportunity for a new paradigm, for a new approach, for a new alliance between Africa and Europe.” Along with the measures on the increased availability and access to Covid vaccines, African leaders are seeking guarantees that the EU’s carbon border adjustment mechanism, which would apply a levy on imports to the EU based on their contribution to emissions, does not hit their exports of fossil fuels and minerals. The levy is primarily aimed at imports from China but while the African continent only accounts for around 3% of global carbon emissions, a number of states, including Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, are heavily reliant on oil and gas exports. (Euractiv)
Verray active – Offset standard developer and manager Verra on Thursday released a request for expressions of interest through a potential Supply Chain/Scope 3 GHG Programme. Verra said it is launching a pilot initiative and invited applications from stakeholders interested in implementing an emissions reduction or removal activity in a supply chain to test how carbon crediting methodologies can support the quantification of supply chain interventions and how the resulting emission reductions and removals can count towards a corporate climate goal. Applications are due by Feb. 18. Additionally, Verra on Thursday released updates to the VCS Program, which include required reporting on contributions to UN Sustainable Development Goals, the introduction of requirements for dynamic performance benchmarks, and new and revised requirements for agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) projects.
Top banana – Scientists say the plant enset, an Ethiopian staple, could be a new superfood and a lifesaver in the face of climate change. The banana-like crop used to make porridge and bread has the potential to feed more than 100 mln African people in a warming world, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. There is growing interest in seeking new plants to feed the world, given our heavy reliance on rice, wheat, and maize. (BBC)
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