CP Daily: Tuesday January 17, 2023

Published 01:19 on January 18, 2023  /  Last updated at 01:19 on January 18, 2023  /  Newsletters  /  No Comments

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

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TOP STORY

Experts urge clarity on carbon credit standards, shift from voluntary “misnomer”

Experts are seeking urgent clarity on what constitutes a good carbon credit to bring corporates back from the sidelines of the global carbon markets, WEF’s annual summit heard on Tuesday, with panellists also citing the need to move away from the “misnomer” that the market is voluntary.

VOLUNTARY

Average age of retired carbon credits drops as corporates seek fresher vintages -analysts

The average age of retired carbon credits fell by three years in 2022 as corporates sought fresher vintages, helping to push the primary value of the voluntary carbon market up 30% last year, analysts noted in a webinar on Tuesday.

US carbon removals developer raises $21 mln to hasten tree planting efforts

A US-based climate biotech company on Tuesday announced it has completed a fundraising round that will accelerate the deployment of some 4 million photosynthesis-enhanced tree seedlings, with the firm’s CEO seeing a need for carbon removals-focused registries as its technological innovations continue.

ACX to explore recycled plastics marketplace in deal with Singapore, UAE partners

AirCarbon Exchange (ACX) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with two companies to identify net zero carbon and recycled plastics opportunities in the Middle East and around the world, the Singapore-based carbon exchange announced on Tuesday.

ASIA PACIFIC

India provides detail on ambitious green hydrogen mission

India aims to displace fossil fuel sourced feedstocks for its fertiliser, oil refining, steel, and transport sectors, while also seeking a longer-term role as a key renewable hydrogen exporter, its recently released national green hydrogen mission has detailed.

Safeguard Mechanism will be untenable if new fossil fuel projects allowed to go ahead, report warns

A report has warned that just a handful of new gas projects in Australia’s Safeguard Mechanism would eat up the majority of the supply of carbon credits available, and place an A$8 billion ($6.2 billion) burden on other businesses to decarbonise at much faster rates.

European fertiliser giant Yara signs “clean ammonia” co-firing deal with JERA for coal plant

Oslo-based global fertiliser supplier Yara has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japanese utility JERA to supply a coal-fired power plant in Japan with up to 500,000 tonnes of “clean ammonia” per year, it announced Tuesday.

China thermal power growth remained flat in December, though coal output expands

Growth in China’s thermal power generation remained steady in December, while coal production continued to grow despite recent economic headwinds, government data showed Tuesday.

Australia revokes industrial electricity, fuel efficiency methodology

The industrial electricity and fuel efficiency (IEFE) methodology of generating carbon credits has been revoked from Australia’s Emission Reduction Fund, the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) announced Monday, and has been replaced by a new and improved version of the method.

AMERICAS

RGGI Market: RGA prices rebound from early-year lows despite programme uncertainty

RGGI Allowance (RGA) prices recovered some ground with increased activity heading into the second week of the year, even as concerns remain over programme review delays and legal challenges to Pennsylvania’s linkage to the market.

Exchange operator ICE launches first US carbon-neutral electricity futures index

Data and market infrastructure provider ICE is launching a first-of-its-kind futures index for carbon-neutral power in the US that will include the California Carbon Allowance (CCA) and RGGI Allowance (RGA) markets.

Quebec boosts free carbon allowance allocation for 2023, revises up 2021 total

Quebec’s initial free allowance distribution for 2023 increased from the previous year, while data showed the province’s environmental ministry handed out more permits for 2021 emissions than it previously disclosed.

California power sector emissions through November align with 2021 levels

Carbon emissions from California’s electricity sector through November nearly matched levels for the same period a year earlier, even as natural gas-fired generation climbed and output from renewables and large hydro retreated, data published Friday from network manager California Independent System Operator (CAISO) showed.

EMEA

EU’s von der Leyen seeks closer US ties on clean tech, outlines industrial plan

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for closer ties with the US on clean tech subsidies during a speech on Tuesday, while setting out details about a Brussels plan to ensure the EU gets better at nurturing its own industry while meeting net zero goals.

Euro Markets: EUAs bounce back amid short covering as energy markets reverse direction

EUA prices rebounded strongly on Tuesday amid speculative buying after an early test of recent lows, erasing nearly all of the previous session’s losses while energy prices also rallied on short covering after hitting new year-to-date lows.

BIODIVERSITY (FREE TO READ)

INTERVIEW: New EU deforestation law will set global benchmark despite risk of loopholes

The EU’s newly-agreed law on deforestation-free supply chains across key goods entering the bloc’s single market will set a global benchmark for others to follow, despite the risk of loopholes in the final text due, according to Nicole Rycroft, founder and CEO of non-profit Canopy Planet.

UNEP teams with data provider to launch nature risk profile methodology

Another tool for analysing companies’ impacts and dependencies on nature was launched in Davos on Tuesday, with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and sustainability intelligence firm S&P Global Sustainable1 announcing the release of their Nature Risk Profile methodology.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Carbon Pulse has teamed up with CME Group to provide its clients with regular updates on the global carbon markets. Check out these briefs for the latest insights on pressing trends and events impacting markets, published every other week. Registration required

INTERNATIONAL

Dry dry ruined – Dust that billows up from desert storms and arid landscapes has helped cool the planet for the past several decades, and its presence in the atmosphere may have obscured the true extent of global heating caused by fossil fuel emissions, the Guardian reports. Atmospheric dust has increased by about 55% since the mid-1800s, an analysis suggests. And that increasing dust may have hidden up to 8% of warming from carbon emissions. The analysis by atmospheric scientists and climate researchers in the US and Europe attempts to tally the varied, complex ways in which dust has affected global climate patterns, concluding that overall, it has worked to somewhat counteract the warming effects of greenhouse gasses. The study, published in journal Nature Reviews Earth and Environment, warns that current climate models fail to take into account the effect of atmospheric dust.

Missing emissions – Insurers have been accused by activists of watering down the sector’s first attempt to quantify the climate impact of their underwriting portfolios, the FT reports. Insurance and reinsurance plays a crucial role in the energy sector but companies that provide the cover for oilfields and mines have provided scant details of the emissions they are responsible for. France’s Axa and Germany’s Allianz are among the insurers preparing to assess the carbon footprint of their underwriting business after the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) released standards for the industry in November. Activists, however, say that the new industry group standard allows insurers to omit the largest chunk of emissions – Scope 3 – associated with underwriting portfolios. Including these emissions, which would account for the biggest chunk of the average company’s carbon footprint, is currently a recommendation but not a requirement of the PCAF standards.

EMEA

Fossil frenzy – The UK drew 115 bids from 76 companies to lease areas of the seabed to look for oil and gas resources, the North Sea Transition Authority said in a statement. The leases are the first step in a years-long process to potentially develop new fossil fuel resources in the UK. The government has touted this leasing round as a key tool to improve energy security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even as the country transitions away from dependence on burning fuels that contribute to climate change. Even if the drilling is successful, it probably won’t boost domestic energy supplies for at least a decade, according to an analysis last year from consultants Wood Mackenzie. (Bloomberg)

Italian ambassador out – Italy’s climate envoy Alessandro Modiano resigned on Monday. “Today, I am leaving the role of Special Envoy for Climate Change,” he wrote on Twitter. “It was an honour to be the first and a privilege to work with the incredible ministry’s team, the international community, and outstanding youth!” Modiano was appointed in Jan. 2022 and led negotiations at COP27 in Egypt. He resigned soon after a new government was formed by Giorgia Meloni, who renamed the department for “ecological transition” the one for “environment and energy security”, and replaced minister Roberto Cingolani with Gilberto Pichetto Fratin. (Climate Home News)

New European Bauhaus – Over €100 mln of funds have already been allocated for implementing projects for the New European Bauhaus (NEB) on building design, according to a report by the European Commission. “Working around a common vision combining sustainability, inclusion, and aesthetics”, NEB projects are supported by the bloc’s regional Cohesion Policy. Moreover, local communities will be able to access an additional €106 mln from dedicated Horizon Europe funds for 2023-24.

Hydrogen help – The European Commission has launched the EU’s Clean Hydrogen Partnership, opening with  a call for proposals. A total of € 195 mln will be made available for projects that support the creation of cutting-edge clean hydrogen technologies spread across 26 topics grouped into 11 Innovation Actions, 13 Research and Innovation Actions, and 2 Coordination and Support Actions. Five of the Innovation Actions are considered of strategic importance and are selected as flagship projects, expected to have a significant impact in accelerating the transition to a hydrogen economy.

ASIA PACIFIC

Get a moove on —Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Murray Watt, has urged farmers to boost their environmental credentials and cut GHG emissions if they want to maintain access to export markets, the Nine newspapers report. The minister made the comments as he embarked on crucial trade talks with the UK and the EU. “Australian agriculture’s ability to continue exporting to the world is really tied to our performance on sustainability,” he said. Watt added that agriculture must play its part in meeting Australia’s climate target of 43% below 2005 levels by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050, but confirmed no specific targets would be imposed on the sector. “If you speak to farmers and farm groups, they get that their ability to maintain these markets depends on continuing to improve sustainability,” he said. The National Farmers’ Federation has set a target for net-zero emissions by 2050. GrainGrowers, the peak lobby group for the A$13 billion ($9 bln) industry, has endorsed the federation’s plan and committed to develop a grain-specific emissions target for 2030 within the next 18 months, while the red meat sector set a goal back in 2017 to reach net-zero by 2030. Farmers generate about 16% of the nation’s emissions, compared to 18% for transport, and 33% for electricity. The sector bucked the trend of other industries, with emissions rising 3.3% in the year to September 2022, when the most recent figures are available, as livestock herds continued to rebound from drought.

Untapped potential – China has the world’s largest unused profitable hydropower potential, which could meet 30% of the country’s electricity needs if fully developed, South China Morning Post reports. Researchers have found that China’s potential development for hydropower sites lies mainly in the mountainous areas in the south, such as Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, though hydropower projects could disturb freshwater ecosystems and contribute to local species extinctions, according to a new study published in Nature Water. China is already home to some of the world’s largest hydroelectric dams, including the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, and the Baihetan and Xiluodu dams on the Jinsha River.

AMERICAS

Ringing hollow – Citigroup and Bank of America have done more to support the expansion of fossil-fuel companies than any other lenders claiming to target net-zero financed emissions, according to a new analysis comparing industry pledges to action. The Wall Street firms, which joined the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) when it was founded in Apr. 2021, have since contributed at least $53 bln in combined lending and underwriting to oil, gas, and coal firms whose operations are still growing, according to a study by Reclaim Finance. Citi was responsible for $31 bln of that, the French nonprofit said. The findings are part of a wider analysis of finance industry actions since the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, of which NZBA is a sub-group, was created almost two years ago. Since then, banks have provided at least $269 bln in aggregate financing to fossil-fuel companies that are still expanding their operations, Reclaim Finance estimates. (Bloomberg)

NWT in my backyard – Regular MLAs lined up on Monday to say they will oppose the Northwest Territories’ (NWT) latest carbon tax legislation, a move that would send the territory to Canada’s federal by default. Unless the territory passes legislation updating its carbon tax to meet new federal benchmarks, the territory’s own-brand carbon tax will be replaced by a federal version. Regular MLAs and territorial ministers agree that the changes being contemplated are not great. However, ministers say the NWT has been given no choice by the federal government. The biggest change is a federal move to stop provinces and territories offering rebates that fully offset the tax. Ottawa says that takes away any incentive for things to change and emissions to decrease. The territorial government has asked the federal government to reconsider that ban, stressing the importance of a home heating rebate in the NWT, where many communities are seen as having little to no current choice regarding the fuel they use. (Cabin Radio)

VOLUNTARY

Consultations and crypto – Offset standard developer and manager Verra on Tuesday announced it will launch a public consultation on Jan. 30 to inform the future development of the VCS programme. The organisation will hold a consultation webinar on the changes Feb. 8, and the consultation will be open for public feedback through Mar. 31. Additionally, Verra concluded its consultation on a proposed approach to third-party crypto instruments and tokens and published a summary of the comments it received. The organisation is still finalising its approach going forward, having last year banned tokenisation of retired VCUs.

Dairy doozy – Danone, one of the world’s biggest dairy companies, has said it plans to cut absolute methane emissions from its fresh milk supply chain by 30% by 2030 by working with farmers, other companies and governments on regenerative practices.  Danone, which works directly with 58,000 dairy farmers across 20 countries, expects to remove 1.2 MtCO2e of methane emissions by 2030 having already cut its output by about 14% over 2018-20. It plans to launch partnerships with green group EDF, the US Department of Agriculture and the European Commission-funded Climate Neutral Farms project. (Reuters)

SCIENCE & TECH

Smart measure – OpenEarth Foundation, in collaboration with the US university Berkeley, has released a pricing oracle that calculates the social price of carbon, measuring the estimated economic damage associated with from a company’s emissions, taking into account factors such as the impact on human health, agriculture, and the environment. The oracle is part of Chainlink, a web3 services platform that connects businesses and data to blockchains. To calculate the social carbon cost OpenEarth Foundation and Berkeley are building a tool to help companies set an internal price for their greenhouse gas emissions. By using a scientifically calculated carbon price that encompasses social factors, companies can create smart contracts that automatically adjust their carbon pricing based on the latest scientific evidence, such as changes in the carbon budget and atmospheric carbon concentration. “By using this Carbon Pricing Oracle, powered by Chainlink, organizations are better able to account for all social aspects, energy projects, and other factors that impact their social cost of carbon,” said Charlie Moore, Head of Carbon and Sustainability Solutions at Chainlink Labs. OpenEarth is a not-for-profit blockchain based digital system.

Sans-lime-stone – Boston-based startup Sublime Systems has raised $40 mln in funding from Lowercarbon Capital to scale its facility to produce 40,000 t/y of low-carbon cement by 2025 from 100 t/yr using proprietary technology, Bloomberg reports. Prior investors include Energy Impact Partners and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) The Engine, along with strategic investor Siam Cement Group. An MIT professor, Ming Chiang, invented Sublime’s low-carbon cement-making process that uses calcium in a form that chemically reacts with silicon rather than limestone, and uses electricity rather than coal-fired heat to drop energy use and carbon emissions, the report said. Since silicon in the sand that is used in cement-making is highly stable, the startup is using, but won’t confirm, sand alternatives such as calcined clays, coal ash, steel slag, and minerals like olivine. The Sublime low-carbon cement will be sold as a mixture of the reactive calcium and reactive silicon, which hardens into concrete with the addition of gravel and water. Leah Ellis, CEO of Sublime, said that the hardened cement meets or exceeds industry-set standards. The company is aiming for a commercial-scale plant by 2028.

AND FINALLY…

Orwellian Ohio – When Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed a bill this month to legally redefine natural gas as a source of “green energy,” supporters characterised it as the culmination of a grassroots effort to recognize the Buckeye state’s largest energy source. But Ohio’s new law is anything but homegrown, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post. The Empowerment Alliance, a dark money group with ties to the gas industry, helped Ohio lawmakers push the narrative that the fuel is clean, the documents show. The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, another anonymously funded group whose donors remain a mystery, assisted in the effort. ALEC – a network of state lawmakers, businesses and conservative donors – circulated proposed legislation for Ohio lawmakers and has urged other states to follow suit, according to the documents, which were obtained via a public records request by the Energy and Policy Institute, a group that advocates for renewable energy. Although Ohio Republicans say they are trying to promote their state’s energy industry, critics have called the new law misleading and “Orwellian.” Unlike renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, natural gas and other fossil fuels emit significant amounts of GHGs.

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