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New York governor includes cap-and-trade rebate fund in budget, as details emerge on programme timeline
New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s (D) budget presented Wednesday included a rebate fund for the state’s forthcoming economy-wide cap-and-invest programme, as the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently provided a timeline for when the administration could present draft regulations and begin holding auctions.
Prices slid lower in the REDD+ avoided deforestation credit market on Wednesday as the fallout from media reports claiming widespread over-crediting in the sector continued to take its toll, despite certifier Verra this week dismissing the scientific reports underpinning the criticism.
Cookstoves were the most common new project in the voluntary carbon market last year, although REDD+ avoided deforestation projects still issued the most credits, according to a database compiling registry data.
The forestry arm of a Japanese global trading company on Tuesday announced the launch of a US-based investment firm focused on nature-based carbon credits, with an eye to potential expansion outside of North America.
A Vancouver-headquartered carbon credit developer on Wednesday announced it plans on generating almost 30 million VERs from four rewilding and mangrove forest preservation projects.
A US-based voluntary carbon offset project developer on Tuesday announced it has gained federal funding to scale up sustainable agricultural practices for fruit and nut growers.
US software giant Salesforce announced a new partnership with a carbon credit ratings agency on Wednesday, boosting project transparency on its Net Zero Marketplace.
The government of Finland on Wednesday published a guide to good practices for the voluntary carbon market (VCM), that aims to both improve the reliability of the domestic market and also create opportunities for Finnish companies to utilise credits as part of climate strategies in a responsible manner.
Increased EU state aid will be used as a “bridge” to help fund the bloc’s decarbonisation efforts up to 2025 until a sovereignty fund is established, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday, setting out a plan to compete with the US and China in clean manufacturing.
EUAs climbed by as much as 5% on Wednesday moving closer to €100, as technical buying and short-covering helped extend the rally that started in mid-January to €20 or over 25%.
Business groups are urging the government to implement the overhauled Safeguard Mechanism as political storm clouds brew ahead of parliament resuming next week, while Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) issuance remains steady.
A report on Australia released by the International Monetary Fund Thursday has suggested the compliance cap on facilities covered by the Safeguard Mechanism is too generous to meet their proportional share of emissions cuts, and highlighted broader gaps in the government’s climate polices.
Green growth will be one of seven priority areas for the Indian government’s 2023-24 budget, released on Wednesday in India’s parliament, which included an allocation of over $4 billion to help meet the country’s net zero goals as well as contribute to reaching its energy security objectives.
Taiwan has extended the sources of emissions offsets that can be used by local businesses when they expand production capacity or build new thermal plants, as part of the government’s effort to realise net zero by 2050.
The largest California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) players saw their market concentration shrink over the past six months even though their total holdings increased, as all-time high credit generation was more spread out among registered entities, government data suggested this week.
Power sector emissions in 2022 under the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) cap-and-trade programme were above the adjusted cap for the third consecutive year as CO2 output in the fourth quarter increased year-on-year.
BIODIVERSITY (FREE TO READ)
An initiative to plant mangroves along the coastline and on salt pan lands as well as a wetlands conservation scheme were the main nature-related headlines when India on Wednesday announced its 2023 state budget.
Concerns over the quality of carbon credits from Verra’s forestry projects are making headlines again, calling into question the validity of REDD+. This is a shame since ending deforestation is key to achieving a 1.5C world. But there is a solution, the UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism, write Kevin Conrad and Federica Bietta of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN).
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- Senior Director/Director of Communications, Verra – Worldwide (Remote)
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Litigation launched – Four people living on Indonesia’s low-lying island of Pari have formally lodged a lawsuit against Swiss-based cement producer Holcim for its alleged role in the climate crisis, Al Jazeera reports. The plaintiffs submitted a request for conciliation in Zug, Switzerland – where Holcim has its headquarters – but with no agreement reached, they have decided to sue the company in the Swiss civil court after tidal waves struck in 2018. Supported by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), Swiss Church Aid (HEKS), and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, the plaintiffs are demanding that Holcim, the world’s largest manufacturer of building materials, reduce its CO2 emissions by 43% by 2030 and want the company to co-finance adaptation measures on Pari such as mangrove plantations and, significantly, that it pays “loss and damage” for its role in the climate crisis as well as about $4,000/claimant, which has been calculated as proportional to Holcim’s contribution to overall climate damage. Read Carbon Pulse’s feature on the growth in climate lawsuits.
Unequal standing – The difference between the carbon emissions of the rich and the poor within a country is now greater than the differences in emissions between countries, according to the Climate Inequality Report 2023, where economists from the World Inequality Lab dissected where carbon emissions are currently coming from. The World Inequality Lab is co-directed by the influential economist Thomas Piketty, the author of Capital in the Twenty-first Century, whose work following the financial crisis more than a decade ago helped to popularise the idea of “the 1%”, a global high-income group whose interests are favoured by current economic systems. The finding is further evidence of the growing divide between the “polluting elite” of rich people around the world, and the relatively low responsibility for emissions among the rest of the population. (The Guardian)
Firm friends — Australia’s Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen gave a speech to a CEPS think-tank event in Brussels, arguing that Australia and the EU are key partners in global renewable energy development and the energy transition. He said while the EU has significant demand for energy to power its manufacturing sector, Australia was energy rich and would continue to be an energy exporter in the form of renewable hydrogen. Bowen noted Australia had some of the best solar energy and critical mineral resources in the world, and wanted Europe to be a key recipient. He also said European renewable investment in Australia was welcome and should be further encouraged. “Australia is open for business for investment in renewables. And all the feedback I have received from investors here and around the world is equally clear: the message has been received and there is huge and renewed interest in Australia,” he said.
Offshore wind partnership – Eleven offshore wind developers – bp, EnBW, Fred Olsen Seawind, Orsted, Parkwind, RWE, Scottish Power Renewables, Shell, SSE Renewables, Total Energies, and Vattenfall – are partnering with the Carbon Trust to make future offshore wind more sustainable, according to a company announcement Tuesday. The developers design, build, and operate wind farms globally, including across Europe, North America, and Asia, and collectively represent around a quarter of global installed capacity. They will work in collaboration with the Carbon Trust as part of the new Offshore Wind Sustainability Joint Industry Programme to develop the first industry-backed methodology and guidance to measure and address the carbon emissions associated with offshore wind farms throughout their lifecycle, including emissions from the manufacturing of materials and installation of wind farms. The aim of this work is to help the global offshore wind industry scale as sustainably as possible and continue its important contribution towards meeting the world’s Net Zero target by 2050 and limiting the most extreme impacts of climate change. A standardised methodology will ensure the scale of installation needed is delivered in a low carbon way and encourage comparability across developers and assets.
Qatari credits – Qatar has stepped up efforts to use carbon credits along with a slew of measures in place following National Climate Change Action Plan which aims at reducing GHG emissions 25% by 2030, the Peninsula Qatar reports. “Qatar is currently implementing many initiatives such as improving energy efficiency, operating renewable energy plants, and introducing carbon capture and storage technologies,” said Saad Abdullah Al Hitmi, Acting Director of the Climate Change Department at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoECC).
Sail away – The Finnish Climate Fund has decided on a capital loan of at most €10 mln to rotor sail manufacturer Norsepower for increasing its production capacity, Helsinki Times reports. Norsepower’s products save significant amounts of fuel and can enable emissions reductions measured in the millions of tonnes of CO2 during the next decade. Shipping emissions are a major climate challenge. Approximately 2.5% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions are generated by shipping, and shipping accounts for 13.5% of the EU’s total GHG emissions.
BP back peddling – The chief executive of BP plans to “dial back” a push into renewable energy because of the poor financial returns they have generated to date, according to the Wall Street Journal, reports the Daily Telegraph. Bernard Looney is said to have told colleagues he is disappointed with the outcomes so far from the company’s push into areas such as wind and plans to narrow its focus. He is also said to believe that BP needs to do more to convince shareholders that it is focused on maximising profits and will place less emphasis on ESG commitments. BP has a target or reaching net zero by 2050. The energy giant is due to report its full-year results next Tuesday.
Securing supply – An earlier coal exit in Germany before 2030 does not pose a threat to the stability of the country’s electricity system, if renewables expansion is implemented as intended, the German economy and climate ministry has said. Even if electricity consumption increases as expected due to the mass roll-out of e-cars, heat pumps, and electrolysers for hydrogen production, the power system can cope with the decommissioning of all the country’s remaining coal-fired plants, the Federal Network Agency found in its latest supply security monitoring report, which is used by the government as a basis of its energy policy planning. However, in order to keep supply security at its currently high level, the report assumes the construction of renewable power installations and hydrogen production infrastructure. The ministry added it would lay out the required capacities in detail in a forthcoming strategy. (Clean Energy Wire)
Meanwhile on the farm – EU agriculture ministers want fewer farms to abide by the European Commission’s proposed emission reduction rules, suggesting a higher threshold for their application which will keep family and small farms off the count. With its proposed overhaul of the industrial emissions directive (IED), the EU executive aims to reduce harmful emissions from industrial installations. According to the Commission’s proposal from April 2022, livestock farms from a certain size upwards would count as such installations and thus fall under the emission reduction rules – an idea that has been met with passionate resistance from EU countries. During their meeting in Brussels on Monday, EU agriculture ministers criticised the Commission’s plans to include more farms in the emission reduction rules – regarding both the size and type of farm. While the current directive covers about 4% of EU pig and poultry farms, the EU executive wants to extend the scope of the legislation to cattle and lower the thresholds for how many units of pig or poultry a farm needs to have to fall under the rules. Specifically, all farms with more than 150 so-called livestock units (LSU) would be subject to the rules. This amounts to either 150 adult cows, 375 calves, 10,000 laying hens, 500 pigs, or 300 sows. This way, the directive would still include only a fifth of EU livestock farms but cover 43% of the methane and 60% of the ammonia emitted by the sector, EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius argued. Member states, however, were not convinced. (Euractiv)
Staying together – Japan and the World Bank has renewed their Article 6 implementation partnership, originally signed in 2019, Japan’s environment ministry has announced. Their cooperation spans the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) and a common aim to work together towards a high-quality international carbon market. Under the agreement, Japan committed to continue supporting the World Bank-led Partnership for Market Implementation and the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, while the World Bank will continue to be part of Japan’s Paris Agreement Article 6 Implementation Partnership.
Gathering interest – Amid Japan’s plans to set up a domestic VCM, interest in J-Credits is on the rise. On Tuesday the government announced that Tokyo-based Creatura has registered on the official scheme website as only the seventh J-Credit provider. The company said in its listing it has built one of the nation’s biggest carbon offset supply systems, and are dealing in j-Credits as well as international offsets.
Hydrogen ambition – State-owned Taipower has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with government-run research centre Academia Sinica to collaborate on various energy projects, including hydrogen and geothermal power, the Taiwanese power company said in a statement on Wednesday. The cooperation will focus on the development of methane pyrolysis, a cutting-edge technique used to produce clean hydrogen, and apply the method to existing power plants, Taipower said. The two sides said they expect the first batch of hydrogen to be produced and applied to gas units at Kaohsiung-based Hsinta Power Plant by the end of this year, according to the statement.
Waving through Willow – US President Joe Biden’s administration is on track to telegraph support for a scaled-back drilling plan at ConocoPhillips’s proposed Willow project in northwest Alaska, over the objections of environmentalists who say the world can’t afford to burn the estimated 600 mln barrels of oil it could yield. In a just-concluded environmental review set to be posted online Wednesday, the US Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management says it prefers an oil development plan that limits the company to drilling from as few as three sites across the Willow site in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska – instead of the five ConocoPhillips previously envisioned. The release of the environmental analysis will set the stage for a possible project approval in no fewer than 30 days. The final decision rests with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who could impose additional stipulations further limiting drilling and activity. (Bloomberg)
Off track EVs – Even with EV incentives and other provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the US will miss its 2030 emissions target under the Paris climate agreement, according to a white paper released Tuesday by the International Council on Clean Transportation, Smart Cities Dive reported Tuesday. In Apr. 2021, President Joe Biden committed the US to reduce net GHGs by 50% to 52% below 2005 levels come 2030. The administration’s strategies to reduce transportation emissions included incentives for purchasing personal EVs, funding to build out the nation’s EV charging network, reductions in tailpipe emissions, and investments in alternative transportation options, including transit, passenger rail, biking, and pedestrian infrastructure. While the IRA will help exceed the administration’s goal for EVs to account for half of all light-duty vehicle sales in 2030, the report found that EVs would have to amount to two-thirds of sales that year, coupled with 3.5% annual increases in the efficiency of internal combustion engine vehicles, in order to comply with the Paris agreement goals.
A piece of the pie – At least four groups have expressed interest in a new US federal programme that aims to fight global warming with the use of machines that can suck CO2 from the atmosphere, E&E News reported. Two startups and two universities have signalled that they plan to apply for a piece of $3.5 bln in federal funding that’s available to help build four direct air capture (DAC) facilities in the US, that remove CO2 from the air. The interested parties include CarbonCapture of California and Sustaera of North Carolina, as well as the University of Houston and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Hefty fees – Washington’s Department of Ecology (ECY) posted on Wednesday the proposed 2023 fee for participants under the state’s Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) programme that launched in January. Based on the number of registered participants, which was 64 as of Jan. 30, and the estimated 2023 programme budget of $1.87 mln to cover the costs of administering the scheme, deficit generators – producers and suppliers of high-carbon intensity fuels – must pay 95% of programme costs, or $77,074 each, while the remaining 5% is covered by credit generators – producers and suppliers of low-carbon intensity fuels – each paying $2,276. The final fee will be based on the number of registered participants at the end of the public comment period set for Mar. 15, which the ECY expects will be lower than the proposed fee.
Cap-and-transit – Funds from California’s cap-and-trade programme and a transit infrastructure bill passed in 2017 will finance 16 local transit projects costing $2.5 bln, Governor Newsom announced on Tuesday, according to Courthouse News. Much of the money will go to two LA projects: The East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor will receive $600 mln, while the Inglewood Transit Connector will receive $407 mln, with a target 2028 completion date when LA will host the Summer Olympics. The grant money also includes $375 mln for extending the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) through to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara. State transit officials said they would be awarding another $1.14 bln to “new transit projects and improvements at high-priority intersections where rail lines and public streets meet by the end of April”.
Renewable review – A climate activist group is urging the US Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether oil major Shell’s claims about its investments in renewable energy are misleading to investors. Global Witness said that it filed a complaint with the SEC’s Climate and ESG Task Force and through the agency’s tips portal over Shell’s statements on renewables. The London-based energy giant may have “materially misstated its financial commitment to renewable sources of energy,” the nonprofit said in a copy of the filing reviewed by Bloomberg News. The greenwashing allegation, which Shell denies, adds to efforts to heap pressure on some of the world’s biggest polluting companies as regulators take an increasing interest in climate change. Complaints and tips to the SEC can lead to probes by the regulator’s enforcement unit, or it may decide not to pursue them at all.
Forest protocol review – Offset registry Climate Action Reserve on Wednesday announced it has released the draft US Forest Protocol Version 5.1 for a public review and comment period. Proposed revisions to the protocol include re-incorporating reforestation as a project type (currently only available under version 4.0 of the protocol), adding guidance for permanence monitoring obligations following the end of a project’s crediting period, and also minor updates to provide further clarification. Indication has also been added regarding the acceptance of projects transferring from the Reserve’s Climate Forward programme for ex-ante reductions. Public comments are due by Mar. 3.
Risilience round – UK-based climate analytics firm Risilience on Wednesday announced a $26 mln Series B funding round to help global businesses transition to the low-carbon economy. Led by Quantum Innovation Fund, alongside existing investors IQ Capital and National Grid Partners, the investment will allow Risilience to expand its market-leading SaaS platform to serve clients at any stage of their decarbonisation journey. The funds will also be used to drive international expansion, with a specific focus on the US where pending SEC rules will require climate and risk disclosures.
In your face – Westminster magistrates court has ordered two climate protesters who threw cake into the face of a waxwork of King Charles in Madame Tussauds to pay the London tourist attraction £3,500 in compensation, The Guardian reported Tuesday. District judge Neeta Minhas told the Eilidh McFadden, 20, and Tom Johnson, 29, that she was satisfied the damage was “significant” and “not minor or temporary” as some staff had to work an extra five hours, while admission was halted for almost an hour, which could have prevented up to 900 people entering during the busy half-term holiday. Minhas gave self-employed artist Johnson, who has no previous convictions, a 12-month conditional discharge but ordered him to pay £1,750 compensation and £250 costs. McFadden, who has three previous convictions for aggravated trespass, was ordered to pay the same amount of compensation and costs, and handed a 12-month community order, including 80 hours of unpaid work.
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