CP Daily: Wednesday August 31, 2022

Published 23:45 on August 31, 2022  /  Last updated at 23:45 on August 31, 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 plans end to RGGI programme in Dec. 2023

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s (R) administration on Wednesday outlined its plan to rescind the state’s RGGI-linked carbon market at the end of 2023, despite opponents maintaining that only the General Assembly has the authority to take this step.

EMEA

EU ETS reform talks pushed to October, MSR sale idea faces softer resistance

Inter-institutional talks on EU carbon market reforms are due to resume in earnest only in October, several key lawmakers told Carbon Pulse this week, making it virtually impossible to meet an initial goal to agree the mammoth Fit for 55 climate policy package in time for this year’s UN climate talks.

EU’s von der Leyen snubs Poland’s calls for an ETS price freeze

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has shrugged off calls by Poland to freeze carbon allowance prices at €30 as a way to help the bloc’s industry cope with soaring gas and power prices.

UK to make tweaks to carbon market rules ahead of 2023

The UK government plans to make minor changes to the country’s carbon market ahead of 2023 in a response to a wide-ranging consultation, the UK ETS authority said on Wednesday in changes that include adding Swiss-bound flights.

Euro Markets: EUAs drop for seventh time in eight days as traders eye resumption of full auction volumes

EUAs fell for a seventh time in the last eight days amid a bearish mood ahead of Thursday’s resumption of full auction volumes, while energy prices fell for a third day even as Gazprom closed the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for a scheduled three-day maintenance that many stakeholders suspect may be extended as Russia continues to put pressure on Europe’s energy supply.

ASIA PACIFIC

China faces risks around forestry and grassland projects amid lack of rules, warns regulator

China’s forestry regulator has warned local authorities to be aware of potential risks associated with forestry and grassland projects in the voluntary sector, saying developers could take advantage of the existing policy vacuum, according to an internal note seen by Carbon Pulse.

Investment firm launches Australian carbon offset fund

A Perth-based investment firm has set up a fund that will let investors tap into the growing market for Australian carbon credits.

Australia’s GHG emissions rise by 1.5% despite fall in electricity sector

Australia’s GHG emissions rose by 1.5% in the twelve months to the March quarter of 2022 from the previous year, reflecting a modest economy-wide increase despite emissions from electricity continuing to fall, government data showed Thursday.

Shanghai to auction 1 mln CO2 permits in early September

The Shanghai municipal government is set to auction off 1 million CO2 allowances for its emissions trading scheme in early September, with the price floor expected to set near current market levels.

VOLUNTARY

Fund set up as offsetting alternative sticks mostly to CO2-focused projects

A fund set up as an alternative to carbon offsetting has in its first year mostly opted to support projects that closely measure their tonne-for-tonne emissions impact, while reaffirming that the financing is tied to overall climate impact rather than measured CO2 results.

Project developer and industry heavyweight team up for climate consulting venture

A large carbon project developer and a European industrial conglomerate have signed a memorandum of understanding to offer climate consulting services to corporates to help them reduce energy-related emissions across the value chain, the two firms announced Wednesday.

Brazilian aluminium company, offset developer auction off Cerrado carbon credits

An aluminium producer and nature-based VER developer are auctioning off several hundred thousand offsets from what they say is the first REDD project in Brazil’s Cerrado region.

AMERICAS

Pennsylvania Supreme Court denies reinstating supersedeas, RGGI injunction holds

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania retained a lower court’s ruling to maintain the preliminary injunction against the state’s RGGI-linked cap and trade regulation on Wednesday, denying an appeal from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to reinstate the supersedeas provisions enshrined in state law.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

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INTERNATIONAL

Forest front – Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s aides are reaching out to Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to form a united front of countries with the most tropical rainforest at this year’s UN climate talks if the leftist wins a new term. Lula’s idea is to build an alliance – which could later be expanded – to push for resolutions to help developing countries preserve their forests and pressure rich countries into contributing to the cost, a top Lula aide said. Aloizio Mercadante, who is in charge of Lula’s campaign programme, said the policy team is especially focused on the details of a global carbon market and ways to finance conservation and sustainable development in rainforest regions. (Reuters)

EMEA

Spanish solidarity – Spain is prepared to support the energy needs of Germany in the face of “blackmail” by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told Chancellor Olaf Scholz near Berlin on Tuesday, EurActiv reported. Sanchez met his German counterpart to discuss the challenges Europe faces in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Spain is ready to help those countries that are suffering the most from dependency on Russian gas and Putin’s energy blackmail,” said the Spanish prime minister, adding that his country “is prepared to offer solidarity and respond to the call from our dear friends and brotherly nations such as Germany.”

Energy prices hike, fuels drop – Spain could face another set of energy price hikes as of September despite inflation having dropped significantly in August due to the decrease in fuel prices, Finance Minister Nadia Calvino warned on Tuesday, EurActiv reported. According to fresh data released by the Spain’s statistics institute, although fuel prices have fallen compared with the same period in 2021, electricity, food, restaurants and package tours have become more expensive. Prices recorded a 0.1% hike in August compared to July, according to the Consumers Price Index (CPI) leading indicator, the fifth monthly increase so far this year. The latest INE figure represents the first decline in the Spanish CPI since April this year, when it fell to 8.3% from 9.8% in March, and the third since Feb. 2021, when the upward inflation trend began in the country.

Gazprom’s deaf ears – Russian state gas company Gazprom still has not answered the Bulgarian authorities’ invitation to resume negotiations to restart gas supplies to the country, EurActiv reported. Energy Minister Rosen Hristov announced last week that entering into negotiations with Gazprom would now be inevitable after previously stating that such talks would take place only as a last resort. Bulgaria was the first country that Gazprom stopped supplying after Sofia refused to pay in roubles due to conversion risks. Bulgaria’s contract with Gazprom states payments should be made in US dollars.

Spectre of rationing – Europe faces the risk of blackouts, rationing and a severe recession if Russia further slashes gas deliveries, and the next reality check is at hand, Bloomberg reported. A three-day halt of the Nord Stream pipeline — a key source of natural gas for the European Union — started on Wednesday, and concerns are widespread that Moscow will find another excuse to clamp down on supplies, putting the region at the mercy of the weather.

But not for Budapest – Hungary signed a deal with Russia for additional gas supplies, government spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs said Wednesday, Politico reported. The agreement will send up to 5.8 million cubic meters of gas a day to Hungary “on top of the contract quantity already in force,” he said. Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjarto, currently meeting with other EU foreign ministers in Prague, said the deal, which will send gas to Hungary via Serbia, means, “We will have enough gas in Hungary.”

Czech heating – The Czech government will initiate measures that will allow heating plants to use different fuels other than gas from Sep. 5, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Wednesday, as the country seeks way to deal with Europe’s energy crisis. The move will let heating plants use fuels like coal or light heating oils even as they exceed allowed emissions. (Reuters)

ASIA PACIFIC

Bring it forward – Thailand is accelerating plans to become carbon neutral and achieve the net zero emission target by 2050 and 2065 respectively, bringing its deadline forward from 2065 and 2090, The Nation reports. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa announced this new plan at an event held in Bangkok on Monday. “Before COP26 kicked off, several ambassadors from the European Union met me to discuss the possibility of moving up Thailand’s deadline for becoming carbon neutral and net zero. These countries proposed that if Thailand moves up the timeline, they would provide financial support as well as technology and knowledge necessary to achieve the new targets.” Varawut said the government has adjusted its plans in line with the adjusted timeline. The first step will be to shift the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 30% to 40% within 2030. “This 10% increase will require cooperation from all parties, as well as financial and technological aid from international communities,” he pointed out.

Fair dinkum superpower – Few countries in the world such as Australia can make such an outsize difference to climate change relative to their population, according to The Age newspaper. Australia’s addiction to coal and fossil fuels, both at home and for exports, has made it the largest carbon emitter per capita in the developed world. Yet by one estimate, the vast sunbaked country could generate 5,000 exajoules of green energy, which is more than eight times current global demand. Even by more conservative assessments, Australia could still power the world, the report on the country’s potential as a leading green energy exporter claimed. “We can be the equivalent of Saudi Arabia in clean energy,” said Murray Shearer, chair and professor of hydrogen and alternative energy at CQ University. “We have all the natural advantages, and we need to grab these things before they go somewhere else.”

First step – Singapore is expected to get its first hydrogen-ready power plant by the first half of 2026 as it transitions its power sector into one using less carbon-emitting fuels, Straits Times reports. The Keppel Sakra Cogen Plant, which can be run entirely on clean-burning hydrogen in the future, is slated to produce up to 600 MW of electricity, said Keppel Infrastructure, Mitsubishi Power, and Jurong Engineering in a statement. This amounts to about 9% of Singapore’s peak electricity demand in 2020 and could power around 864,000 four-room Housing Board flats for a year. The combined cycle gas turbine power plant developed by Keppel Infrastructure will use natural gas as its primary fuel for now. However, the plant is also designed to operate on fuels with 30% hydrogen content, which produce less carbon than fossil fuels, and has the capability of shifting to run entirely on hydrogen, the companies said.

I’ve got the power – Japanese utility J-Power has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Vietnam Forestry Corporation (Vinafor) to jointly explore opportunities for biomass business in the Southeast Asian country, Bioenergynews reports. Vinafor is a major state-owned forestry corporation in Vietnam that manages approximately 43,000 hectares of forests and works in the fields of afforestation, manufacturing of industrial wood board and interior/exterior furniture for export, and trading of wood products. The purpose of the MoU is for Vinafor and J-Power to jointly examine the biomass business in Vietnam. J-Power intends to enter into and expand the biomass power generation sector in the country, and will aim to gain knowledge of the sustainable use of biomass fuels through a broad involvement in the supply chain for biomass fuels.

AMERICAS

Putting the ‘no’ in Nova Scotia  – The Canadian federal government has rejected a plan by Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston to postpone implementing a carbon tax on gasoline and home heating oil less than two weeks after receiving the province’s proposal detailing a “better-than-a-carbon-tax” alternative. “You are proposing to end Nova Scotia’s cap-and-trade program, with no replacement that would put a price on pollution,” wrote Steven Guilbeault, the federal Minister for Environment and Climate Change Canada, in his August 29 letter to Tim Halman, Nova Scotia’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change. “The federal government is committed to continuing to put a price on carbon pollution, with clear requirements that are implemented consistently across Canada and provide certainty to businesses and households,” Guilbeault continued. Guilbeault left the door open for more negotiations, but the clock is quickly ticking toward Friday’s deadline for Ottawa to approve any equivalent subnational CO2 pricing scheme to meet Canada’s 2023-30 carbon pricing benchmark. (Canadian Press)

Wasting time – Tuesday saw the first reading of the ‘No Time to Waste Act (Plan for Climate Action and Jobs)’ in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly, a bill introduced by interim opposition and Ontario NDP leader Peter Tabuns and MPP Bhutila Karpoche. The bill outlines the link between climate change and public health and would require the Minister of Health to present a strategic action plan on how Ontario is preparing for the onset of climate change. The bill would also provide the foundation for regulations to limit GHG emissions from the province’s public sector and would set up a new parliament committee on the climate crisis. The rare summer session saw members of Ontario’s provincial parliament return from the House break on Aug. 8 providing Premiere Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government the chance to lay out its agenda after the June election where they landed another majority. Ford has been criticised by external observers for his lackluster stance on climate change – for example cancelling the province’s cap-and-trade programme during his initial weeks in office – pointing to a likely legless pathway for Tabuns’ bill.

Setting the (re)bar- US steelmaker Commercial Metals (CMC) is creating a line of net zero rebar products, which it claims will remain carbon neutral from production to final delivery, covering Scopes 1-3 of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard. New rebar produced by electric arc furnaces (EAF) cuts 63% of emissions compared with industry averages, CMC said, adding that it will use renewable energy credits (RECs) to create RebarZero with 100% net zero carbon electricity. (Argus)

VOLUNTARY

It’s a process – Offset standard developer and manager Verra on Wednesday launched a public consultation on proposed changes to the VCS Methodology Approval Process and related sections of the VCS Standard and VCS Program Guide. Verra said the updates seek to improve the efficiency of the methodology development and review processes while enhancing the transparency and quality of VCS methodologies.

AND FINALLY…

Just like that – First Solar, a major solar panel manufacturer, will invest up to $1.2 bln expanding three factories and building a fourth in large part because of the passage of the US Inflation Reduction Act’s renewable energy incentives, the company said Tuesday. The company said this would create nearly 1,000 jobs across the four total factories. These investments are consistent with the anticipated expansion of the renewable energy sector in the US A new analysis from Energy Innovation found the law’s $370 bln for climate spending should help double the amount of installed wind and solar energy capacity by 2030, which would correspond to as much as 85% of total US energy supply at that point. (Climate Nexus)

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