CP Daily: Thursday January 26, 2023

Published 00:55 on January 27, 2023  /  Last updated at 15:23 on December 2, 2023  /  Newsletters

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

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ANALYSIS: Avoidance versus removals debate reignites amid REDD over-crediting concerns

Concerns about over-crediting of REDD+ forest conservation projects have rekindled debate on whether carbon removals are preferable to carbon avoidance, though the differences are not always clear.


Ratings agency urges UN to learn “lessons” from voluntary carbon market for Article 6 crediting

The co-founder of a carbon credit ratings agency on Thursday urged the UN to ensure that the “lessons of the voluntary carbon market” are applied to the issuance of credits under the Paris Agreement’s Article 6, referring to recent media allegations of overcrediting in REDD+ projects.


Euro Markets: EUAs move into positive territory for 2023 after short covering drives biggest gain in month

EUAs posted their biggest daily increase in a month to reach their highest level of 2023 on Thursday on the back of what was generally acknowledged to be a short squeeze by speculative traders, while energy prices were mixed amid forecasts for higher temperatures and increased wind generation.

Pilot Russian carbon trades begin at floor price despite Ukraine crisis

Pilot trading in Russia’s domestic carbon market has begun on the gas-rich island of Sakhalin after two projects have been issued with credits, economy minister Maxim Reshetnikov was reported as saying.


WCI Markets: CCAs resume downtrend as regulatory uncertainty and auction weigh, Washington waits

California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices retraced this week to continue a relatively weak first month of the new year, while Washington carbon market participants await further clarity on price developments from next month’s auction and as more entities register for the programme.

Exxon affiliate invests C$720 mln in Canada’s largest renewable diesel project

The Canadian affiliate of oil major ExxonMobil on Thursday announced a C$720 mln ($539 mln) investment in a renewable diesel facility that will lower emissions under both provincial and federal low-carbon fuel standards.


Japanese corporates sign multiple CCS supply chain deals amid calls for greater policy support

Several Japanese companies announced collaborations on Thursday to sign a total of four agreements  to develop CCS value chains in both Japan and the broader Asia-Pacific region, as momentum builds for carbon capture and storage to play a more integral role in meeting the decarbonisation goals of the country’s large industrial emitters.

Indonesia to step up blue carbon efforts, government official says

The Indonesian government plans to step up efforts to preserve seagrass and mangroves as part of its climate change policy and to improve the Southeast Asian country’s blue carbon potential, local media has reported.


Rating agency leans into CDR technologies as market gears up to boom

A carbon credit rating agency has created a scalability assessment for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies, as the voluntary market tilts further towards projects that remove rather than avoid CO2 emissions.


Investors launch global commission to drive improvements in mining sustainability

Investors at the London Stock Exchange have launched the Global Investor Commission on Mining 2030 to raise the industry’s sustainability standards across a number of issues, including biodiversity protection.

Fauna & Flora, Plan Vivo outline high-integrity principles for biodiversity market

Conservation charity Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and carbon standard Plan Vivo International (PVI) have released a set of proposed high-integrity standards for the emerging voluntary biodiversity credit market to help guard against greenwashing and low-quality units.

BC’s Incomappleux Valley conservancy secured with public-private funding

A non-profit Canadian conservation group along with federal and provincial governments, First Nations, and several private and individual donors announced Thursday an agreement to establish a conservancy in the Incomappleux Valley of south-eastern British Columbia.

Biodiversity Pulse Weekly: Thursday January 26, 2023

A weekly summary of our biodiversity news plus bite-sized updates from around the world. All articles in this edition are free to read (no subscription required).


Best foot forward – starting on the road to scaling carbon removals

Understanding the scalability of different carbon removal methods is a crucial first step on this journey towards achieving the billions of tonnes of removals a year needed to meet international climate targets, write Ted Christie-Miller and Victoria Harvey of BeZero Carbon.


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Green wave – For the first time, the world invested as much money into replacing fossil fuels as it spent on producing oil, gas, and coal, according to an analysis from BloombergNEF. Global investments in the clean energy transition hit $1.1 trillion in 2022, roughly equal to the amount invested in fossil fuel production, according to the research firm’s “Energy Transition Investment Trends 2023” report. Never before has the amount spent on switching to renewable power, electric cars, and new energy sources like hydrogen topped $1 trillion. While the amount represents a 31% jump from 2021, it’s still just a fraction of what’s needed to slash greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming. BNEF estimates annual investments in the transition must triple for the rest of this decade to give the world a shot at reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

Raw deal – The EU and the US have started discussing a possible deal on raw materials that could allow the bloc to benefit from a part of President Joe Biden’s IRA green subsidy package, Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous sources. The talks on a minerals deal are at an early stage and the US is likely to only want to focus on extraction and processing critical materials used in electric vehicles, and more countries could be part of the deal. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has proposed a raw materials club to diversify away from single suppliers of key components needed for the green transition and to better compete in the global tech race, particularly with China. 

“Making a mockery” – Today, through an open letter, 425 civil society groups and representatives of UNFCCC observer groups have expressed widespread condemnation to news from earlier this month that Sultan Al-Jaber, an oil executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), would be overseeing this year’s UN climate talks happening in the UAE in November. The signatories, representing millions of people from across the globe, are calling not only for a COP28 president that is free and independent of fossil fuel influence, but for an end to the undue influence that allowed his appointment in the first place. In the letter, the constituencies and groups detail ADNOC’s outsized role in fuelling the climate crisis, as well as the negligence of world governments in allowing polluters to steer the agenda of global talks. The 450+ organisation network is also calling for the UNFCCC to adopt an Accountability Framework that prevents the world’s largest polluters from steering global climate policymaking. “Absent controls on industry interference, legions of lobbyists converge on annual climate talks each year. They even attend as members of country delegations, such as was the case with the UAE’s 1000-person delegation, which featured more fossil fuel lobbyists than any other country delegation,” Climate Action Network (CAN) said in a press release. “What’s more, corporations like the world’s largest plastics polluter, Coca-Cola, were allowed to literally sponsor last year’s climate talks. 18 out of 20 COP27 sponsors either directly partner with or are otherwise linked to the fossil fuel industry. And at COP27, a PR firm with long ties to the fossil fuel and other pariah industries was retained to manage communications. The list of political interference and co-optation of the UNFCCC goes on and on. They make a mockery of the space and the critical work it needs to accomplish.”


ABBA Gold mine – The announcement this month of a large deposit of rare earths that are crucial for the energy transition deep in the Swedish Arctic has many in the country very excited, but there is reason to be cautious the FT argues. Stung by its smaller and once poorer neighbour Norway overtaking them in the wealth stakes when it found oil in the late 1960s, some in Stockholm are asking if this find by state-owned miner LKAB could be their equivalent boom moment. Ebba Busch, deputy prime minister and minister for energy, business and industry has said that it potentially could be. “It’s not very often that Swedes get enthusiastic and ecstatic in that way … Sweden is literally a gold mine.” But as the FT reports, the inconvenient truth about European industry’s massive green transition is that it is almost entirely dependent on China for rare earths and mineral processing, but there are equally grounds to be sceptical about just how important the Swedish find really is. There are questions over how long it could take to develop, how big it is, the impact on the local environment and how realistic it will be for Europe to wean itself off Chinese supplies.

High bar – The UK’s proposed Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR) to eradicate greenwashing in investment funds set a higher bar than those already enforced in the EU under the bloc’s EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), according to the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association, one of Britain’s biggest finance industry group. The UK proposals are “a positive departure from the arguably looser criteria” set out in the bloc’s rules, which include an “unclear definition of ‘sustainable investment’,” said UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association. (Bloomberg

On balance – UK-based clean energy infrastructure developer Balance Power on Thursday launched a new brand designed to help businesses tackle record-breaking energy costs and accelerate their decarbonisation efforts. The developer of solar, energy storage, and flexible grid projects said its new Net Zero Power division would work directly with businesses customers to help them access clean energy technologies that can reduce energy bills and carbon emissions. The new service will see the company assess clients’ energy needs to determine the optimum clean energy solution for their organisation, be it rooftop solar, ground-mounted solar, battery energy storage system (BESS), or green hydrogen. Where onsite clean technologies are not appropriate, Net Zero Power will also offer the option of developing renewable energy projects off site that can provide clients with access to cost-competitive clean power. (BusinessGreen)

Tata takes hydrogen – UK-based Tata Chemicals Europe (TCE), a subsidiary of India’s Tata Chemicals Limited and Vertex Hydrogen, a division of Indian multinational conglomerate Essar Group, signed an offtake agreement for over 200 MW of low-carbon hydrogen, Business Standard reported. The low-carbon hydrogen will supply TCE’s industrial scale carbon capture and usage plant in the UK that captures 40 tCO2/yr, as part of the company’s goal to achieve net zero manufacturing by 2030.

Save your receipts – The Dutch cabinet needs to be more transparent about how billions of euros in funds greenlighted for the climate change fight will be used, the Court of Audit wrote in a letter to parliament on Wednesday. The government plans to spend almost €6.8 bln on climate measures this year, an amount that could double if the parliament approves a new climate fund of approximately €35 bln, the investigation by the Court of Audit has found. However, there is no clear overview of how these funds will be used and ministers have varying ideas, the independent body that audits government spending added. For example, Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag wrote in the 2022 Budget Memorandum that connecting offshore wind farms would cost €150 mln less than what Economic Affairs Minister Micky Adriaansens wrote in her overview. In another instance, the Agriculture Ministry wrote that cleaning up pig farms between 2020-27 would cost €44 mln, while its budget states this would cost €259 mln. “Due to the lack of clear definitions, ministries may too easily include measures under climate policy, or relevant measures may not be included,” the auditing body added. (Euractiv)


Carbon price cushion – Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson on Thursday unveiled a C$200-mln Carbon Tax Relief Fund aimed at helping 700,000 residents of the province cope with the negative impacts of rising winter costs, from food to fuel. The 2023 Carbon Tax Relief Fund will provide help for all Manitobans including seniors, singles, and couples with or without children who lived in the province on Dec. 31, 2021, and whose family net income that year was less than C$175,000. The premier reiterated the Manitoba government’s calls for the federal government to put an immediate halt on the revenue-neutral ‘backstop’ CO2 levy on fossil fuels imposed on the province. The Carbon Tax Relief Fund will provide C$225 per single person and C$375 per couple.

At last in Tongass – US President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday restored protections against roads and logging across more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Known for its bountiful salmon and breathtaking fjords, the massive trees of the largely pristine forest absorb at least 8% of all the carbon stored by the contiguous 48 states. The announcement finalises an administration proposal from June of 2021 and reverses actions taken by former President Donald Trump to open the national forest to roads and logging in 2020. (Climate Nexus)

New era for NextEra – Florida-based NextEra Energy said Wednesday it will move ahead with major hydrogen projects after capping off a record year of renewable energy and storage development, EnergyWire reported Thursday. The company last week signed off on about 800 MW of new solar generation aimed at powering a green hydrogen facility based in the central US. Green hydrogen is made from renewable energy sources. A separate pilot project by NextEra’s Florida Power & Light utility is on schedule to begin commercial operations later this year as Florida’s first green hydrogen plant. And NextEra is advancing proposals for hydrogen sites in the country’s Southeast and Southwest.

Say it ain’t so(lar) – A bipartisan group of US lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Thursday will introduce a resolution to repeal President Joe Biden’s suspension of import tariffs on solar panels from four Southeast Asian nations, according to a statement provided to Reuters. The move is aimed at propping up domestic solar manufacturers, which have struggled to compete with cheap panels made overseas – often by Chinese companies. The measure is being introduced under the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows Congress to reverse federal rules with a simple majority. A Commerce Department probe last year found that some solar panel makers were dodging US tariffs on Chinese-made goods by moving their products through Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. New proposed duties on imports from those countries will not kick in until June of 2024 because of a two-year waiver from Biden.

ESG for PNC – Pennsylvania-based PNC Financial Services Group announced Wednesday the closing of its latest green bond issuance totaling $1.25 bln. The proceeds will fund eligible projects that promote a transition to a low-carbon economy and offer sustainability benefits across four categories aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings, and clean transportation. PNC issued its inaugural green bond in 2019 and its first social bond in 2021. Along with its increased environmental finance commitment, PNC also recently announced that it is planning to establish new, ambitious, science-aligned environmental targets for its operational footprint, including further reducing GHG emissions, and energy and water consumption.

Mass of biogas –  Seventeen American biogas projects will receive $118 mln in funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) in an effort to reduce emissions from transportation, Reuters reported Thursday. Agricultural waste, soybean oils and animal fats are among the methodologies being funded. Universities and private firms are among the recipients, getting between $500,000 and $80 mln per project.  Over $500 mln has already been invested by the DOE in researching an developing biogas and biorefinement.


Green deal – Zero-emissions transportation and energy supply and infrastructure solutions provider Nikola and Australia’s green energy company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on and evaluate the codevelopment of large-scale US green hydrogen production facilities, Mining Weekly reports. The supply of green hydrogen for any potential projects will be underpinned by Nikola as a potential offtaker, which has high demand for green hydrogen to decarbonise the transportation sector and other industries. FFI’s considerable experience and capabilities in hydrogen project development are said to make it an ideal partner for Nikola in the potential development of this project. FFI, which is a subsidiary of Australia-headquartered iron-ore miner Fortescue Metals, is acquiring and developing technology solutions for hard-to-decarbonise industries, while building a global portfolio of renewable energy, green hydrogen and green ammonia projects.


Going for Gold – European supermarket chain Lidl, part of the Schwarz Group, has only used Gold Standard certified credits for offsetting Scope 1 and 2 emissions since Mar. 2022, and has shunned REDD+ credits certified by Verra, it has revealed to Carbon Pulse. “We at Lidl International set the highest possible standards to ensure additionality and therefore only use projects that are certified with the Gold Standard,” the company said. “Since fiscal year 2022, we have been offsetting all company-related emissions (Scope 1 & 2) exclusively through Gold Standard certified projects. Therefore, Lidl International does not use REDD+/Verra certified projects.” Two studies, reported last week by national newspapers, found extensive over-crediting in a sample of REDD projects, although Verra has refuted the findings. Lidl officially joined the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in Aug.2020. By 2030, the supermarket chain plans to reduce its operational CO₂ emissions in Scope 1 and 2 categories by 80% compared to 2019.

Honed on drones – A pilot project in Sierra Leone will use drone-based remote sensing and data management technologies to verify and monitor reforestation programmes. Working closely with the government, the UK-based non-profit organisation Crown Agents and UK-based drone specialist UAVaid are partnering with the UK Aid, as part of their Frontier Technologies programme, to explore technology to increase investor confidence in the community-based forest carbon market. The project will run the pilot in north-eastern Sierra Leone, where the team has partnered with the local conservation and community development organization, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary (TCS). It will apply new programmatic and technological approaches to support sustainable reforestation, linking local communities as custodians of the new forests they replant and advanced drone technology for monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV). With each planted tree geo-tagged and monitored by long-range drones, the result will see a remotely accessible verification mechanism that will end uncertainties that have marred investments in carbon offsets in rural Africa, where monitoring can be both costly and infrequent, making for challenges in visibility.


Plastic wrap – GHG emissions related to plastics production, use and end-of-life are relatively small compared to other emissions along the food supply chain, finds a new a “field to fork” study produced by scientists at the Sustainable Food Chains at the Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. For example, in the shipping of melons from Honduras to the UK, the cultivation, harvest, and postharvest handling represented 41% of the total GHG emissions of 701 kg of CO2/t of melons. Transportation represented 48% of the GHG emissions. On the other hand, Xtend packaging represents only 3% of the total CO2 emissions and the end-of-life represents only 1% of the total CO2 emissions. The study was sponsored by fresh food packaging firm StePac, which estimates across the supply chains where its packaging is used, that it saved in excess of 100,000 tCO2 in 2022. “By creating sustainable modified atmosphere packaging solutions which extend produce freshness often by 50-100%, StePac has demonstrated through this research, that it helps lower GHG emissions by reducing waste in the fresh produce supply chain and often facilitating sea transport instead of air transport of produce to distant destinations,” said Gary Ward, the company’s business development manager.

Purdue pur-does – Purdue University researchers are receiving $870,000 from US think-tank World Resources Institute to study global forest carbon accumulation rates. The research team, co-led by Purdue’s Jingjing Liang, is using the two-year grant to develop an artificial intelligence model that uses satellite and geospatial data points to map local forest growth rates throughout the world. According to the university, ground-sourced forest inventory data measured at various points in time is currently the only source of information for accurate quantification of the three main forest growth components: ingrowth, upgrowth, and mortality. Liang says the team’s model will be the first AI-based forest growth model deployed at a global scale. In addition to carbon dynamics, Purdue says Liang’s model will also capture and quantify the dynamics of forest biodiversity and timber quality. (Inside Indiana Business)

Green building – Sustainable building materials company Plantd announced $10 mln in Series A funding on Thursday led by venture capital firm American Family Ventures to establish the agriculture supply chain in building the first-of-its-kind, modular, automated, continuous press for engineered low-carbon building materials. Plantd’s proprietary low carbon-emissions production technology transforms fast-growing perennial grass into durable, carbon-negative building materials that outperform competitive products on key attributes, including strength and moisture resistance, the press release outlined. Plantd is currently working with the US’ largest builders and architects to integrate these low-carbon building materials into their projects and quickly make them a standard in the industry.


The African block – African governments sought to block the US from co-chairing the Green Climate Fund (GCF) board, citing its failure to deliver cash. Developed countries nominated the US Treasury’s Victoria Gunderson to jointly lead the UN flagship climate fund’s deliberations in 2023, with the appointments typically approved without discussion. But on behalf of African board members, Kenyan environment official Pacifica Ogola raised an official objection. The US has contributed just $1 bln to the fund in its 12-year history, compared to $9 bln from EU countries and $3 bln from Japan. A further $2 bln pledged under former president Barack Obama was never delivered, and his successors Donald Trump and Joe Biden have not paid a cent. In Mar. 2022, GCF executive director Yannick Glemarec warned that without more resources, the fund would have to tightly ration support for carbon-cutting projects in the developing world. However, the outgoing co-chairs persuaded African members not to veto the appointment, on the assurance that the board would discuss their broader concerns. (Climate Home)

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