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The European Commission set out its full REPowerEU plan on Wednesday that included multiple proposals designed to accelerate the EU’s withdrawal from using Russian fossil fuels and outlined an intention to raise €20 billion for the package via the sale of allowances from the Market Stability Reserve (MSR).
EUA prices fell by the most in ten weeks on Wednesday after the European Commission proposed that the EU sell more than 200 million allowances from the Market Stability Reserve (MSR) to raise funds for its energy transition initiative and to hasten the shift away from Russian energy sources.
A European Parliament committee this week backed a far more aggressive introduction of a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) than Brussels initially proposed, a move that experts see as being littered with practical challenges.
Some 922 of the 957 installations and airlines regulated by the UK carbon market were in compliance in the scheme’s inaugural year, the British government announced late Wednesday, with those entities surrendering permits covering more than 99% of verified emissions.
Australians head to the polls this weekend facing stark choices between the major parties and their climate policies, with a collection of independent candidates campaigning on climate and integrity issues acting as wild cards.
A bill being considered by Sarawak’s local legislative body will, if passed, make it the first state in Malaysia able to grant licences for “forest carbon activity” in permanent forest and state land, according to local media reports.
Carbon credit demand could rise fivefold to 1 billion tonnes in 2030, according to a bank analyst report published this week, spurred by corporate climate commitments outpacing those of governments.
A tie-up between a certification company and a globally renowned inspection and testing firm seeks to provide credibility for burgeoning claims of net-zero trades in markets such as LNG, steel and aluminium.
An online marketplace has launched a service to help carbon sink projects into the voluntary carbon market, which will involve buying future credits generated by the scheme in advance.
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices out to 2030 will depend on the status of extending a nuclear power plant and the level of renewable power capacity reached by the end of the decade, analysts said.
February fuel consumption in California maintained its upward trajectory compared to 2021 levels, but remained below pre-pandemic levels, driven by the gasoline side, according to state data published Wednesday.
A global standard for green hydrogen, the world’s first, has been launched by the newly-formed Green Hydrogen Organisation (GH2) at an industry conference, reflecting stepped up efforts to promote the production and utilisation of the emerging low carbon fuel.
Brazil’s Environment Minister Joaquim Leite outlines his government’s green economy plans and its intention to be the world’s biggest exporter of carbon credits.
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IETA European Climate Summit 2022 – May 24-25 in Barcelona: Join us for the 4th edition of this IETA-led European summit, bringing together leading private sector experts and policymakers from both the carbon and energy world, to analyse and discuss the current state of play, and what’s next for compliance and voluntary markets. Why attend? 1. gain a comprehensive understanding of current and forecast carbon market drivers and developments; 2. how are we implementing our transition to a net zero economy, both on the ground and through policy; 3. understand the pricing evolution, risk profile, and investment opportunities across the compliance and voluntary carbon markets; 4. what/how/why of digital climate assets. www.europeanclimatesummit.com
Reuters Events: Global Energy Transition 2022 – June 14-15 in New York City: The conference unites CEOs and changemakers from the energy, industrial, and government ecosystems to shed light on the defining issue of our time, and help companies meet a uniquely difficult challenge. Over two days and five critical themes, we will define the future of energy, inspire a decade of action, and prepare the sector for challenges still to come, with diverse voices from around the world bringing passion and expertise to deliver a new path forward. Find out more by visiting the website today: https://bit.ly/35H7cgb
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Chain reaction – The head of French nuclear regulator ASN said that fixing corrosion problems at some of state-controlled utility EDF’s nuclear reactors would require a large scale plan and several years as he warned of a risk more reactors could be halted, EurActiv reports. Bernard Doroszczuk told a parliamentary hearing that while EDF had checked 35 weldings for corrosion and would look at a further 105 by the end of June, the cause of the problem was still unknown. Corrosion problems have also been gaining speed, though at this stage they could not be linked to the age of the reactors, he added. It also seemed that EDF’s 32 reactors of 900 MW, which makes up the bulk of its fleet, were not or not much affected by the corrosion problems, he said. Separately, work to repair weldings at the Flamanville EPR plant in France will continue until August 2022, according to EDF’s timetable. EDF faces delays and budget over-runs on new nuclear plants in France and abroad, and corrosion problems in some of its ageing reactors. Its next-generation EPR reactors have a troubled history. EPR projects at Flamanville and Hinkley Point in Britain are running years behind schedule and billions over budget, while EPR reactors in China and Finland have been hit by technical issues. While the safety of French nuclear plants remained at satisfying levels in 2021, nuclear safety must be at the heart of energy policies, ASN also said in its annual report.
Swiss removals – The Swiss Federal Council approved a report on Wednesday that sets out the measures and framework conditions for developing carbon removals that it said will be at the right scale to meet 2050 climate targets. The report proposed to develop CCS and negative emissions technologies in two phases: an initial phase extending to 2030 and a targeted gradual extension phase extending to 2050. At the end of these two phases, by 2050, CCS installations must have been installed in waste incineration plants, and cement works. Transporting and storing CO2 in the country will require new infrastructure, such as pipelines and storage sites underground or in building materials. The second phase will require legislative reform and greater investment and will also need the development of bilateral agreements concluded with partner countries in the field of climate protection. The initial phase can be implemented within the current legal framework.
Windy nations – Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark signed a pledge to build at least 150 GW of offshore wind capacity in the North Sea by 2050, enough to power 230 mln European homes, Reuters reports. This would be an almost tenfold increase in the European Union’s offshore wind capacity, and the promise comes as the bloc tries to wean itself of planet-warming fossil fuels and its dependency on Russian energy. The declaration will be signed at an offshore wind summit in Denmark, where European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will participate, among others. The EU Commission targets 300 GW of wind at sea by 2050 up from the roughly 16 GW currently installed.
Finnished – Russia could cut off gas supplies to Finland this week, the Nordic country’s state-owned energy provider Gasum said on Wednesday, in a row over Moscow’s demand for countries to pay for gas in rubles and as Helsinki seeks NATO membership, EurActiv reports. In a statement, Gasum said it had not received any information about the matter from Russia’s Gazprom or from the Russian transmission operator, but that it was preparing for a scenario where Moscow cuts off gas late on Friday or on Saturday. Russian gas exports to Finland averaged around 3.2 mln cubic metres per day from Jan. 1 to Mar. 16. Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said last week Finland would apply to join the Western defence alliance NATO without delay, prompting Russia to vow a response.
Energy Poors – War in Ukraine is worsening energy poverty in the EU, Politico reported. As household utility bills skyrocket, driven by soaring gas prices, campaigners are ramping up pressure on countries and policymakers to respond. “Since the war started … there is a feeling that there is increased interest in the topic and the challenges connected to it,” said Dora Biondani, senior project coordinator with the European Energy Poverty Advisory Hub, an EU-led initiative working with local governments to implement energy poverty-related policies.
Bring out the big guns – In a bid to accelerate Asia’s transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions, and harness the opportunities of scaling climate action, the Asia Society Policy Institute has announced that it will convene a High-Level Policy Commission on Getting Asia to Net Zero for countries, including India, Business Standard reports. Led by the Asia Society’s global president and former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, the commission will bring together prominent political, business, financial, and civil society leaders, predominantly from Asia. Other founding commissioners include several former politicians, ministers, and international diplomats.
Handbrake on – Japanese automakers Toyota Motor, Nissan Motor, and Honda Motor are the least prepared for a zero-emissions vehicle transition compared with their global competitors, according to research released Wednesday from climate think tank InfluenceMap. By 2029, just 14% of Toyota’s worldwide production is forecast to be battery-electric vehicles (EV), rising to 18% for Honda and 22% for Nissan, according to the study, which is based on an examination of future production data from IHS Markit. (Business Times)
On second thought – Top US energy companies Chevron and Schlumberger have withdrawn an application to capture CO2 emissions and store them deep underground in central California, spokespeople said on Wednesday, putting the clean energy project on hold after US environmental regulators questioned it. Burying industrial gases has become a focus for energy companies seeking to show investors they are willing to reduce emissions and help fight climate change. Their permit was one of more than a dozen filed with the US EPA, which requested the application be withdrawn. In a Mar. 25 letter, the EPA said the application was “substantially incomplete,” citing changes to the application and the failure to supply financial assurances. The companies had formed a venture to revive an idled biomass-fuelled power plant and generate “carbon negative power” in Mendota, near Fresno, California. The project included an underground carbon sequestration site and would remove about 300,000 tons of CO2 a year. (Reuters)
Oregon equity – The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on Wednesday announced it is forming an Equity Advisory Committee to help guide the state’s market-based Climate Protection Program. The DEQ said the committee will play an important role in determining what types of emissions reduction projects are supported by community climate investments and where those projects would be located. The agency asked interested individuals to provide a brief statement of interest to participate in the committee by June 13.
Ethanol Iowa – Gas stations in Iowa will be required to sell 15% ethanal fuel blends, known as Unleaded 88, under the America’s first ever “E15 Standard”. The Biofuels Bill was supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, winning an 81 to 13 vote in the Iowa House and a 42 to 3 vote in the Iowa Senate. The agriculture-heavy state is the top biodiesel and ethanol producer in the US according to industry organization, Iowa Corn. The bill will only apply to gas stations that sell over 300,000 gallons (1.1.4 million litres) of fuel per year and gas stations that don’t have the capacity to install new pumps will get an exception. Grants will be made available to fuel depots looking to upgrade for E15 accommodation.
Stepping up – Web3 lifestyle app STEPN has committed to spend $100,000 every month on buying carbon removal credits, the company announced Wednesday. The venture will buy the units from Nori, a blockchain-based offsetting service largely getting its credits from US-based soil regeneration schemes. STEPN estimates the spend will get it around 70,000 offsets every year. Nori has previously received criticism for not implementing additionality criteria when issuing their offsets to land-owners.
Playstation 2030 – Japanese giant Sony has brought forward its deadline for reaching carbon neutrality by a decade, saying it is now targeting net zero emissions across its business by 2040. The electronics and entertainment firm said the decision was taken “as climate change risks become more apparent and serious worldwide, and the transition to a decarbonised society has become an urgent issue”. Climate campaigners praised the move, but raised doubts over an element of how Sony aims to reach the goal – investing in new technology that removes carbon from the atmosphere or converts it into a less harmful compound. Sony said it wants its own factories to be carbon neutral by 2030, also a decade earlier than its previous goal, and plans to reach that by increasing use of renewable power and energy-saving. Eliminating emissions from areas “such as products, supply chains, and logistics”, however, is to be achieved in part by investing in start-ups focused on carbon removal and projects that encourage carbon absorption with so-called augmented ecosystems.
Business class – Azzera, a new provider of carbon offsetting and compliance solutions, has introduced services tailored for the business aviation market. Founded by business aviation veterans, Azzera is launching online services to calculate carbon footprints and roll out a transparent blockchain-based marketplace for trading carbon credits. The company, which has secured a technology investor/partner and more than $1 mln in funding, aims to become a centralised spot-trading carbon market exchange. Azzera said it will work with business aircraft owners and operators to manage their participation in compliance programs, including the EU ETS, Swiss ETS, and UK ETS. “Today, there are more than 22,000 business jets operating worldwide and the carbon emissions per passenger are significant. Some larger business aircraft operators have integrated carbon offsetting into their business models. But for small to midsize operators selecting and implementing top-quality offset solutions can be very complicated. This is where we come in, by selecting and facilitating access to high-quality carbon offset initiatives,” the company said. (AIN Online)
SCIENCE & TECH
I don’t care if the sun don’t shine – Researchers from the University of New South Wales have revealed a major breakthrough in renewable energy technology by using Earth’s radiant infrared heat to generate electricity in the dark, Renew Economy reports. A team from the UNSW School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering published the results of their research into radiant infrared heat, describing a major breakthrough in producing electricity from so-called “night-time solar power” – heat radiated as infrared light. The researchers used a semiconductor device known as a thermo-radiative diode – which is composed of materials found in night-vision goggles – to generate power from the emission of infrared light.
Trees in trouble – Evidence exists that tree mortality is accelerating in some regions of the tropics, according to new research published in Nature, with profound consequences for the future of the tropical carbon sink and the global anthropogenic carbon budget left to limit peak global warming below 2C. However, the mechanisms that may be driving such mortality changes and whether particular species are especially vulnerable remain unclear. The researchers analyse a 49-year record of tree dynamics from 24 old-growth forest plots encompassing a broad climatic gradient across the Australian moist tropics and find that annual tree mortality risk has, on average, doubled across all plots and species over the last 35 years, indicating a potential halving in life expectancy and carbon residence time. Associated losses in biomass were not offset by gains from growth and recruitment. Plots in less moist local climates presented higher average mortality risk, but local mean climate did not predict the pace of temporal increase in mortality risk. Species varied in the trajectories of their mortality risk, with the highest average risk found nearer to the upper end of the atmospheric vapour pressure deficit niches of species. A long-term increase in vapour pressure deficit was evident across the region, suggesting that thresholds involving atmospheric water stress, driven by global warming, may be a primary cause of increasing tree mortality in moist tropical forests.
All the ‘mmonia – While hydrogen can be used in many sectors, its derivative, ammonia, has emerged as a key tool to provide flexible power generation and integrate variable renewables. Analysis by energy research company Wood Mackenzie shows that a 10% ammonia co-firing in global coal plants would translate to 200 Mt of ammonia demand, a potential market of $100 bln by 2050. Thermal generation is the largest source of power and heat in the world today. In 2021, the share of thermal generation was 70% in Asia Pacific, and 50% in Europe and Americas combined. Amid rising power demand and a strong focus on decarbonisation globally, there is an urgent need to replace thermal power generation plants with renewables and battery storage or pair with new technologies such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) to abate emissions. A quick replacement of these thermal power plants will be costly as the thermal fleets in several countries still have many years of useful life, said Wood Mackenzie. (Energy Voice)
The climate needs a Joan of Arc – Who will replace the UN Climate Chief, Patricia Espinosa, as the Mexican diplomat steps down in July after six years in the top climate job, asks Climate Home. The UN website posted the job ad on Friday, they report, leaving just over a month for governments to put forward their preferred candidates before the June 24 deadline. Applicants will need to demonstrate senior leadership experience, “strategic vision and an intimate understanding” of climate and development issues. Ministerial experience is a plus. The job is based at the UN Climate Change headquarters in Bonn, Germany, and the salary is $207,000, according to the latest UN pay grid. With previous executive secretaries from Europe and Latin American, there is a push for African and Asian candidates to be given a chance. Female applicants are “especially welcome,” the advert stipulates. The successful candidate will need to steer international climate negotiations through a critical decade shifting climate commitments into action. According to the article, potential candidates include Rwanda’s Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Canada’s Catherine McKenna, and Barbado’s Selwin Hart. Ultimately, the decision lies with UN chief Antonio Guterres.
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