CP Daily: Friday August 12, 2022

Published 23:47 on August 12, 2022  /  Last updated at 23:47 on August 12, 2022  /  Newsletter  /  No Comments

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

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TOP STORY

US Congress passes largest-ever climate bill after 1.5-year slog

The US House of Representatives on Friday approved Democrats’ $430 billion climate change, healthcare, and tax bill, marking the largest-ever climate bill to pass through the US Congress despite several provisions designed to prop up the fossil fuel industry.

AMERICAS

RGGI, Inc. to block Pennsylvania’s Q3 auction volumes next week unless injunction lifted

Market administrator RGGI. Inc will reject the nearly 16 million Pennsylvania-owned allowances from next month’s RGGI auction unless a court-ordered injunction against the programme is temporarily lifted, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said Friday.

Colombia’s proposed carbon tax reforms retain phase-in coal framework

New Colombian President Gustavo Petro retained phase-in carbon tax provisions on coal from the previous administration’s planned reforms, as well as inflation-adjusted annual increases to the levy that target equality and social justice objectives, according to a draft tax reform package submitted to Congress this week.

Speculators build, emitters trim CCA positions as prices jump

Financial players added to their California Carbon Allowance (CCA) holdings this week ahead of the Q3 WCI auction next week, while regulated entities pared back their positions as prices increased on the secondary market, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data.

EMEA

UK to introduce more long-term relief to avoid carbon leakage

The UK government is looking to further boost compensation for energy intensive industries to relieve the pressure from soaring electricity prices.

German utility EnBW ensures coal supplies amid steady hedging

German utility EnBW has enough coal to supply its plants over the coming winter, it said in its half-year results on Friday that indicate the company won’t be impacted by low water levels on the river Rhine.

Euro Markets: EUAs post 4.8% weekly gain as market said to be disconnected from fundamentals

EUAs posted a 4.8% weekly gain as prices climbed to another six-week high on Friday, with traders suggesting the market is detached from fundamentals, while natural gas was weaker as countries continued to look for ways to trim demand for the fuel this winter.

ASIA PACIFIC

CN Markets: CEA prices barely change, as participants remain cautious

The spot price for Chinese carbon allowances remained almost unchanged this week, with market participants again attributing the lacklustre performance to unclear policy signals.

Australian Greens push back against climate authority’s VCM advice

The Greens are urging the Labor Party government to reject advice that Australia should increase its participation in the international voluntary carbon market, arguing that it could delay emissions reductions and stifle investment in Australia’s domestic market.

Australia to add emissions reductions to National Energy Objectives

Australian state and federal energy ministers have agreed to integrate carbon emissions reductions into the nation’s energy objectives in a bid to ramp up decarbonisation work across the sector.

NZ foresters urge govt to update ETS settings 

Many in the New Zealand forestry sector are calling for the government to update the settings of the ETS to more efficiently encourage gross emissions reductions as well as native afforestation.

VOLUNTARY

Over 50 entities join as working groups on digital carbon markets gets underway

More than 50 stakeholders have agreed to participate in a string of working groups to develop high-quality digital carbon markets, including a number of significant players in the traditional market.

Microsoft increases investments in DAC credits

Technology giant Microsoft has stepped up plans to become carbon negative by 2030 by extending its investment in direct air capture (DAC) company Heirloom Carbon.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

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INTERNATIONAL

Climate chief – Grenada’s former environment minister Simon Stiell is set to lead the UN climate change body (UNFCCC), succeeding Mexico’s Patricia Espinosa, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Climate Home. UN chief Antonio Guterres was responsible for the selection process and his decision was signed off by the UNFCCC bureau at a meeting on Thursday. Stiell is a veteran advocate for climate ambition from a vulnerable Caribbean island state. After Espinosa and Costa Rica’s Christiana Figueres, Stiell will be the third executive secretary in a row from the Latin America and Caribbean region. The previous holders were from Europe so it was expected that the job would go to someone from Africa or Asia. Climate Home News understands that Espinosa’s deputy, India’s Ovais Sarmad, was in the running along with the UK’s COP26 president Alok Sharma. Although the advert for the $207,000 job specified that female applicants were “especially welcome”, all three of these candidates are male.

EMEA

Swap contracts – Germany’s Uniper is prepared to swap liquefied natural gas (LNG) it gets from Australia’s Woodside for US gas, so it can boost supplies in Europe more quickly during the coming winter, it said, Reuters reported. The strategy reflects efforts by companies and governments across Europe to seek alternative lines of supply and draw up contingency plans for the winter gas season, fearing Moscow could fully stop supplies of natural gas. In case of supply shortages, Uniper could make available to customers in Europe, US LNG that was earmarked for Asian customers and could be sitting in the Atlantic, speeding up potential supply.

Help us cut – The German Industry Initiative for Energy Efficiency (DENEFF) alliance of German consumer associations has called on Berlin to boost energy efficiency ahead of the winter, as rising prices and a looming shortage of gas affect households and businesses. It argued that it is important to increase energy efficiency in the long term by investing in more efficient buildings, companies and public infrastructure. (Clean Energy Wire)

Water scarcity – The Rhine River fell to a new low on Friday, further restricting the supply of vital commodities to parts of inland Europe as the continent battles with its worst energy crisis in decades, Bloomberg reported. The water level at Kaub — a key waypoint west of Frankfurt — fell below the 40 centimeter (16 inch) level earlier on Friday and is expected to continue dwindling over the coming days, according to German government data. At the 40 centimeter marker, it’s not economical for many barges to transit the river.

Solidarity in action – Sweden, Europe’s top power exporter, is helping boost regional supply at a time it is needed the most even as its own citizens are “taking a tough beating,” the country’s energy minister said, Bloomberg reported.“Although we are for now the top exporter in Europe — we have electricity in abundance — we are being hit by the high prices that we see down on the continent,” Khashayar Farmanbar said in an interview on Friday. “We are considering all measures to either lower the prices or help the households and industry in order to manage the situation.”

Let the oil flow – A European bank has agreed to process a payment for the transit of Russian oil through Ukraine, Slovak refiner Slovnaft and another source familiar with the matter said, removing the cause of a stoppage of oil supplies to central Europe last week, Reuters reported. The payment, if confirmed by all parties, would be a step toward restoring oil flows to the Czech Republic after a week-long outage and also create conditions for future payments for transit to the region. On Tuesday, Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft said supplies via the Druzhba pipeline had been suspended to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia since 4 August because Western sanctions prevented it from paying transit fees to Ukrainian transit company Ukrtransnafta.

Polish stock-taking – Accelerated restructuring of the Polish and European energy system requires, as a priority, a more favorable regulatory environment for zero-emission technologies, including removal of administrative barriers and eliminaton of legal gaps that delay green investments, a report by the newly-founded  Reform Institute showed. Under the title of “REPowerEU: will it be a new impulse for the long-needed energy policy reforms in Poland?”, the paper found that the initiatives currently listed in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan are insufficient to fully utilise the potential of improving energy security in line with the assumptions of the REPowerEU plan. The report discusses the key reforms currently planned in the NRRP and the missing initiatives that should be taken into account when updating the plan and other strategic documents, i.e. NECP and the Energy Policy of Poland until 2040. Unlocking investments in green electrification is particularly important and requires a strategic approach to accelerating RES expansion and integration as well as electrification in buildings, industry and transport.

Senseless support – The UK’s importing of wood to burn in Drax power station “is not sustainable” and “doesn’t make any sense”, the country’s business and energy secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, told a private meeting of MPs this week, the Guardian reported, citing a recording it obtained. The remarks are significant as the burning of biomass has received £5.6 bln in subsidies from energy bill payers over the last decade. Scientists and campaigners have long argued that burning wood to produce electricity is far from green and can even increase the CO2 emissions driving the climate crisis. About 80% of the wood pellets burned by Drax come from North America. The subsidies are due to end in 2027, but Drax is hoping to gain new subsidies by adding carbon capture technology to its plant. (The Guardian)

More CCUS – The UK Government has announced a shortlist of 20 projects for its next stage of carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS). The move follows the commitment in the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution to deploy CCUS in two industrial clusters by the mid-2020s and a further two clusters by 2030. Last November, the CCUS clusters in north west England and North Wales, and the east coast of England clusters in the Teesside and Humber were selected as track one clusters for deployment by the mid-2020s. These clusters will be the first to be considered under the government’s CCUS Programme, which includes the £1 bln CCS Infrastructure Fund. The shortlisted projects will now also be considered for government funding to join one of these clusters.

ASIA PACIFIC

Path to net zero – Global green capital presents a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for Indian power sector giants such as NTPC and Tata Power to fund their clean energy transitions, according to a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). The think tank says that robust decarbonisation plans that align with climate science-based net zero targets will be critical to mobilising this rising tide of sustainable finance. India’s leading power companies, NTPC and Tata Power, are role models for charting successful pathways to transforming their business models and attracting foreign private capital, according to the report’s co-author Saurabh Trivedi, research analyst at IEEFA. “However, successfully engaging serious green investors would depend on the companies’ ambition and the transparency of their transition plans.”

Coal forever – BHP has sought federal approval to build a new Queensland coal mine which would run for up to 90 years, Australian Financial Review reports, just months after it was praised by environment groups for keeping huge volumes of coal in the ground with its plan to shut a NSW mine early. BHP’s request to build a new mine at Blackwater South came as Glencore – the miner that championed the notion that “managing down” coal mines was more ethical than selling them – sought federal approval to add an extra two years to the life of its Ulan coal mine in NSW. The BHP project is part of its long-standing Queensland coal joint venture with Mitsubishi and would cover 21,000 hectares. Blackwater South would be a large and long life mine, with BHP saying the project would “extract up to approximately 10 million tonnes per annum” of coal “for up to approximately 90 years”.

New goals – Shanghai plans to lower the carbon intensity of its total electricity consumption to around 4 tonnes/10 MWh by 2025, as part of its emissions peaking goals, according to an implementation plan released Thursday by the city’s municipal development & reform commission. By 2025, non-fossil energy is expected to take up around 20% of the power consumed by China’s most populous city, while renewable energy will contribute 36% of the total consumption, the plan showed. In a separate filing, the government of Shanghai has pledged to peak its emissions by 2030.

AMERICAS

The Wharton school of business – Manitoba Environment Minister Jeff Wharton is keeping tight-lipped about the province’s proposal for its own carbon levy, and won’t say whether the Progressive Conservatives will consult the public. The PC government plans to submit a proposal by the end of this year, ahead of an updated national framework for carbon pricing that will take effect in 2023. Wharton wouldn’t say whether the two firms Manitoba contracted last year to help form a levy have reported back to the province, and wouldn’t share what the province wants different than the existing federal plan. Other provinces have taxed sectors differently, such as a cap-and-trade system for large emitters. (Free Press)

Live Mass – Massachusetts’ governor signed into law Thursday a major climate change bill that’s meant to bring the state closer to its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. The bill signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker encourages the development of offshore wind and solar energy and gives some local authority to limiting the use of fossil fuels in building projects. It also allows 10 cities and towns to require all-electric, fossil fuel-free new construction, with the exception of life sciences labs and health care facilities. (AP)

Get Smart – New York regulators Thursday approved the roughly $1.2 bln Smart Path Connect transmission project planned by a National Grid subsidiary and the New York Power Authority. The New York Public Service Commission also approved transmission facilities to connect Invenergy’s 291MW Canisteo wind farm to the grid, and signed off on compliance filings for five other wind and solar projects totalling 517 MW, allowing construction and operations to begin. Earlier this week, the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment rejected NextEra Energy Resources’ application to build the 180MW North Side solar project, saying it would hurt wetlands as well as threatened and endangered species. (Utility Dive)

Golden State changing of the guard – California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced Amelia Yana Garcia Gonzalez will serve as California’s next Secretary for Environmental Protection after Secretary Jared Blumenfeld steps down in September. Garcia Gonzalez previously served in various leadership roles at CalEPA focused on environmental justice and tribal affairs. Secretary Blumenfeld, who has led the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) since 2019, will go on to serve as the inaugural President of the Waverley Street Foundation, a new global climate change nonprofit focused on community-driven climate solutions. Meanwhile, California ARB Chair Liane Randolph also announced on Friday that the Board is appointing Steven Cliff as the new executive officer for the state regulator. Cliff served for four years as the ARB’s deputy executive officer overseeing mobile sources prior to his current position as administrator of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Cliff replaces former ARB Executive Officer Richard Corey, who retired at the end of June.

VOLUNTARY

Neutrality bites – The German supermarket chain Rewe has said that it will stop using a contentious “climate neutral” claim for its own-brand products, reports business weekly WirtschaftsWoche. A spokesperson told the newspaper that remaining stock will still be sold off, but the aim is “to do without [the claim] altogether.” Rewe used carbon offsetting to enable it to say its products are “climate neutral”. From January to August 2022, Rewe had a total of 217,000 of CO2 offset – in order to make the products of its own brand “Rewe Bio + vegan” climate neutral. (Clean Energy Wire)

AND FINALLY…

You can grow your own way – A group of engineers across the country want to turn the production process for concrete —which accounts for over 7% of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions—into a carbon-neutral, or even carbon-negative, process. And they’ll use microalgae to make it happen, according to Popular Mechanics. The team, led by engineers at the University of Colorado, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has shown it can manufacture biogenic limestone-based Portland cement without the need to quarry the limestone in a carbon-heavy process. Instead, they’re growing it, the article explained. Concocting a Portland cement mixture that doesn’t need extracted limestone led the research team to biologically grow limestone, a natural process that some species of calcareous microalgae complete through photosynthesis. Think: coral reef formation. The scientists call it a net carbon-neutral way to make Portland cement, as the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere equals what the microalgae already captured.

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