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Some 13 EU countries are eyeing alternatives to fund the bloc’s shift away from Russia fossil fuels amid concerns that a Brussels plan to sell MSR-held carbon units is too disruptive for the EU ETS.
The European Parliament’s industry committee (ITRE) voted on Wednesday to substantially raise 2030 headline targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency – a move in tune with the EU’s overarching objective to wean itself off Russian oil and gas by no later than 2027.
The UK’s governing Conservative party leadership contest features several climate sceptic candidates in the race to become the next prime minister, but while the new premier is likely to slow progress on climate, they will struggle to dismantle existing policy and the country’s mid-century net zero target.
EUA activity picked up after a very slow start on Wednesday as traders took advantage of the fortnightly UKA auction to take profit from a three-day rally, erasing the week’s gains while energy markets continued to climb as more European countries mulled options to secure energy supplies this winter.
A firm specialising in direct air capture announced Wednesday it has secured £3 million through a UK government net zero innovation fund.
A European renewables-focused market intelligence firm is seeking to hire several new analysts as part of an expansion of its coverage to compliance and voluntary carbon markets worldwide.
South Korea’s monthly CO2 permit auction on Wednesday was oversubscribed for the first time in over a year as the start of the 2022 compliance cycle brings a more upbeat mood to the market.
Despite having the world’s biggest portfolio of voluntary carbon projects the VCM is underexploited in India and market participants await direction from the government on issues such as corresponding adjustments (CA), according to a report released this week.
One of China’s five major state-owned power companies has signed a partnership with the government of Qinghai province to develop forestry-based carbon sequestration projects.
Three natural gas companies filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Pennsylvania’s RGGI rulemaking, adding to a growing caseload the state faces in its efforts to join the 11-state cap-and-trade programme that is pending resolution from the state Supreme Court.
California regulator ARB divvied out fewer than 100,000 compliance offsets for the third time in four issuance periods as the slow crediting rate this year continues, according to government data published Wednesday.
A US national conservation organisation has teamed up again with its international partner to launch a nature-based offsets programme for small scale, family-owned and individual forest holdings, the companies announced Wednesday.
Tech giant Microsoft announced Wednesday that it has signed a multi-year commitment with direct air capture (DAC) pioneer Climeworks as its first supplier of long-term, technology-based carbon removal.
The American Carbon Registry (ACR) on Wednesday released the next version of its improved forest management (IFM) protocol, focusing on shoring up the additionality of CO2 mitigation activity and outlining new equations for calculating “removals” credits.
A US agricultural technology company has raised $20 million in Series A funding, which it said will allow it to significantly expand farming and commercial adoption of its seaweed-based digestive aid for methane-spewing cattle.
A Dutch carbon offset firm has agreed to sell around 535,000 voluntary carbon offsets from a Kenyan clean cookstove project.
Two Verra-credited projects were awarded a moderate chance of avoiding or removing a tonne of CO2 by a ratings agency in its latest update this week.
After two successful funding rounds, a blockchain carbon offsetting platform is expanding its presence in the US with a new base in Florida and a new advisor in the country, and is eyeing further senior hires.
The world could still burn 9 million barrels of oil a day and substantial amounts of gas under a mid-century net zero scenario if carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) was more quickly deployed at scale, according to analysis published on Wednesday.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Blame game – The US has inflicted more than $1.9 trillion of economic harm on other countries between 1990 and 2014 by burning fossil fuels, a new study finds. The quantified economic harms could be used in international negotiations and litigation in relation to shouldering the costs of preventing future climate change and paying reparations for damage already inflicted, say the Dartmouth College researchers who authored the study, published Tuesday in Climatic Change. China, the second-biggest historic polluter after the US, caused over $1.83 trillion in damages over the same time period. The five largest emitting nations — the US, China, Russia, Brazil and India — together caused $6 trillion in warming-related economic losses, the study found. It notes that to date, there’s been a lack of scientific evidence “supporting causal linkages between individual countries’ emissions” and losses in other countries. But now, “such linkages can be quantified using state-of-the-art climate models and empirical approaches and that we can process-trace exactly who has caused economic losses from their emissions, and how much.” The research found that the economic losses have been centred in low-income, tropical regions. For example, the US “inflicted $34 billion of economic losses on the Philippines during the 1990 to 2014 period, considering emissions generated from US territory,” it read. (Climate Nexus, Axios)
It’s not happening – Despite the smattering of temporary reserve coal measures announced by European governments in recent weeks, the number of European coal plants that are already retired or are covered by 2030 at-the-latest closure plans has risen this year to 171, according to data collated by Europe Beyond Coal. The threat of Russia cutting off fossil gas supplies to Europe has left governments, which tried to use fossil gas while getting off coal, using polluting coal as a backstopping option as they prepare worst-case scenario emergency reserve measures ahead of the coming winter. However, no European country has revised its plans to phase out coal completely by 2030, with measures currently focused on responding to short-term power and heating shortages, the campaign group notes. “Though clearly temporary, the decisions to put coal plants back into reserve could have been avoided had European countries made firmer commitments to energy savings measures and renewable energy solutions earlier, and not foolishly tried to transition away from one fossil fuel by using another,” said Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director at Europe Beyond Coal. Of the countries to extend their coal exit, France is readying its 647MW Emile Huchet coal plant as emergency cover for its limping nuclear fleet this winter, meaning it will overshoot its 2022 coal exit plan by a few months. Austria is preparing its small 246MW Mellach plant as backup after closing its last plant in 2020. Greece has returned to its original 2028 coal exit plan, but power production from lignite was at an all-time low in Greece in the first five months of 2022, down 21% compared to the same period in 2021. “It’s right that there is widespread dismay at coal rearing its ugly head, but we should not sensationalise what’s happening here: coal remains in terminal, structural decline,” said Fabian Hubner, campaigner in Germany at Europe Beyond Coal. ” This is its final curtain call, but governments must double down on energy savings and renewable energy to ensure that near-term emergency measures do not become a brake on the transition to a fossil-free Europe.”
Coal attraction – Rising gas prices mean Germany’s 2030 coal phase-out date will be much harder to achieve without political intervention, according to a report by the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nurnberg. Previous modelling was based on the assumption that natural gas will remain cheap while EU ETS prices increased, leading to emission-heavy coal and lignite plants becoming expensive and therefore unattractive for investors to keep running. However, gas prices have increased substantially and are projected to remain high, meaning that keeping coal and lignite plants online for longer will become more appealing to investors. Co-author Veronika Grimm said politicians will need to make “quick decisions about the timeline” before investors fail to put in the amount of money needed. (Clean Energy Wire)
Shortfall shuffle – Germany’s economy, transport and construction ministries on Wednesday presented emergency programmes to cut emissions in construction and transport after the two sectors missed their 2021 CO2 targets, threatening the country’s 2030 domestic climate goals. Transport sector emissions were at 148.1 MtCO2 last year, missing its targeted 145 Mt, while construction emitted 115 Mt, above the 112 Mt target. The transport programme to save 13 Mt through 2030 pushes for expanding EV charging infrastructure, earmarks €250 mln for cycling paths, and supports a push to promote working from home. The construction plan obliges all newly installed heating systems to be operated with 65% renewable energy from 2024. (Reuters)
Helping out – Japan plans to provide support to India to drive the transition to clean energy, expanding a programme it launched last year for Southeast Asian nations, Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda said on Wednesday. Japan’s ‘Asia Energy Transition Initiative’ initially targeted supporting countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) pushing towards net-zero carbon emissions, including $10 bln in finance for renewable energy, energy efficiency and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects. (Reuters)
Billet family – Metals company Rio Tinto announced Wednesday it is investing C$240 mln ($188 mln) to increase the production capacity for low-carbon, high value aluminium billets at its Alma smelter in Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec by 202,000 tonnes. According to the company’s statement, the existing casting centre at Rio Tinto’s Alma plant will be expanded to accommodate new state-of-the-art equipment, including a casting pit and furnaces, allowing a larger portion of the aluminium produced to be converted to higher value billets. The company said that construction will begin in May 2023, after completing detailed engineering and preliminary work, and commissioning is expected in the first quarter of 2025. Rio Tinto noted that the global demand for aluminium extrusion products is expected to grow at an average of about 3% per year over the next ten years, driven by the energy transition and decarbonisation. (Kitco News)
PNC power – Pennsylvania-headquartered PNC Bank on Wednesday announced a long-term renewable supply agreement with utility Constellation to power nearly 50% of its legacy operations with renewable electricity in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, District of Columbia and parts of Illinois. PNC Bank will receive approximately 148 mln kWh of energy per year through its retail agreement with Constellation, with that energy matched by Green-e Energy Certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) sourced from other renewable facilities located throughout the US. Backed by PNC’s 15-year commitment, Constellation has entered into a separate long-term PPA to procure 78 MW of energy from Mammoth Central, the third and final phase of Doral Renewables’ Mammoth Solar project in Indiana. With an estimated capacity of 1.3 GW, Mammoth Solar will be one of the country’s largest solar farms upon completion, which is expected by the end of 2024. (Solar Power World)
Expiration celebration – After a decade-long campaign, Illinois community group Stand Up To Coal is celebrating the expiry of a mining permit granted to Sunrise Coal to develop the proposed Bulldog Mine in Vermilion County. Sunrise Coal, a Colorado-based Hallador Energy Company subsidiary, applied in Apr. 2012 to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to develop a mine capable of producing 3 Mt of coal a year. Despite sustained community opposition to the project, the permit was granted in Apr. 2019 with a proviso that work on the site had to commence by Apr. 2022. The company undertook no work at the site and has abandoned the project. Stand Up To Coal opposed the project for posing significant pollution risks to the local community, including local groundwater supplies. (CoalWire)
Petra Nono – US power utility NRG has confirmed there are no immediate plans to restart the operation of the mothballed Petra Nova CCS plant on a 240MW unit of the WA Parish power plant in Texas. The plant, which was commissioned in Dec. 2016, was mothballed in May 2020 when the oil price dropped about $29 per barrel after the outbreak of COVID-19. At the time, NRG said the project could be brought back online “when economics improve”. In 2015, NRG said the project made economic sense when the oil price was US$75-100/barrel. Despite the price currently being over $100/bbl, an NRG spokesperson said “there is a long lead time to restart the carbon capture facility, and it is not economic to operate for short periods based solely on fluctuations in oil prices.”(E&E, CoalWire)
More storage – Battery storage capacity in the US more than tripled in 2021, growing from 1,438 MW in 2020 to 4,631 MW, according to the Energy Information Administration. More than 100 utility-scale projects were brought online last year, the agency said in a July 5 Electricity Monthly Update. The growth occurred as storage use cases have expanded, EIA noted. Batteries have been used to provide ancillary services since 2016 but arbitrage, load management, and the consumption of excess renewable generation applications saw “significantly increased levels of participation.” Utility-scale storage capacity in the US was less than 500 MW in 2016, but declining battery prices have helped spur the development of projects. That trend may be reversing, at least temporarily, as a new report from BloombergNEF predicts battery prices will rise this year, for the first time in more than a decade. (Utility Dive)
The impact is real – Panasonic Holdings Corporation today announced the release of its Green Impact Plan 2024 (GIP2024). The plan will serve as a milestone toward the 2050 targets laid out in the company’s long-term environmental vision, Panasonic Green Impact (PGI). Under the banner of this long-term environmental vision, the company said it hopes to contribute to both the well-being of people and society as well as a sustainable global environment. It is engaged in various activities towards reducing CO2 emissions from its own operations to virtually net zero by 2030 and to contribute to a total of 300 Mt or more in avoided emissions by 2050, about 1% of the current total global emissions of 33 billion tonnes. As a milestone toward achieving the goals established for 2050 and reaching the targets made for 2030 (FY2031), the GIP2024 sets out concrete actions to be completed by 2024 (FY2025). It aims to reduce CO2 emissions in the company’s value chain and seeks to contribute to lowering CO2 emissions in Scope 1, 2, and 3, as well as increasing avoided emissions in wider society. “The Panasonic Group understands its responsibility in working towards solving the urgent issue of climate change collectively. Through the accumulation of our efforts, it will work alongside society to achieve carbon neutrality by expanding the impact of its contributions to CO2 emission reductions,” it said.
VCS consultation – Offset standard manager and developer Verra on Wednesday announced a consultation for proposed changes to its VCS programme. The updates would introduce requirements for geologic carbon storage, update requirements for avoiding double counting of carbon credits in Scope 3 emissions inventories, add a discount factor for crediting in cases of upstream displacement, and clarify the long-term average GHG benefit calculation for ARR and IFM projects. The public consultation runs through Sep. 11, with Verra aiming to publish the changes Dec. 7.
Peloton protest – Senior officials from the Tour de France were seen dragging climate protesters into a ditch during the 10th stage of the cycle race. Despite being chained together around the neck, a small group of young protesters were dragged off the race route by tour officials. Climate activists from the Derniere Renovation movement, which last month disrupted the French Open tennis tournament, said: “Since the government doesn’t care about the climate crisis, we need to come and take over the Tour de France to refocus attention on what matters for our survival. We need to make our government react as they lead us to the slaughterhouse.” (Guardian)
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