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Shell fears a rising tide of reputational and litigation threats due to its climate impact
Shell, fresh from last year’s bumper fossil fuel profits, on Thursday outlined fears about how increasing scrutiny of its oil and gas operations in regard to climate change could seriously damage its business.
Germany plans launch of Contracts for Difference to support heavy industries
Germany’s economy ministry (BMWK) will consider imposing Contracts for Difference (CfDs) to promote renewable energies, as part of a new industrial plan presented on Thursday.
EU proposes extending 15% voluntary gas demand reduction by a year
The EU’s energy commissioner Kadri Simson announced Thursday that member states will be asked to prolong the current 15% voluntary gas demand reduction goal for another year amid ongoing supply concerns.
Brussels adopts American-style approach to cleantech subsidies
The European Commission on Thursday set out plans to extend the relaxation of state aid rules and simplifying processes for member states to support key green sectors, aiming to rid the bloc of costly red tape in an increasingly heated global clean technology race.
Euro Markets: EUAs whipsaw as bullish sentiment offsets low auction demand
EU carbon prices whipsawed violently on Thursday, posting strong early gains before shedding more than €3 after the daily auction garnered the lowest total demand since last September and eventually climbing back into positive territory as bullish sentiment prevailed.
UK climate change advisors call for end to biomass subsidies for power
The UK’s independent climate advisors recommended on Thursday that the government phase out controversial subsidies for unabated biomass by 2027, touching on an area that will form a key part of the country’s soon-to-be updated net zero strategy.
WCI Markets: CCAs reverse course on steep Washington auction settlement, WCAs trade above reserve price tier
California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) shrugged off an early-week sell-off after Washington state’s inaugural cap-and-trade sale cleared near $50, which in turn spurred Washington Carbon Allowance (WCA) values to begin trading above the scheme’s lowest allowance reserve price trigger on the secondary market.
Climate Action Reserve publishes carbon credit forecast methodology for avoiding US megafires
Offset registry Climate Action Reserve (CAR) on Wednesday released its methodology to issue credits for future emissions reductions that will occur through activities that prevent wildfires erupting across the American West.
Singapore adds ACR, ART TREES offset standards to basket of eligible credits for domestic market
Singapore has added ACR and ART TREES as its fourth and fifth global carbon offset standards to supply carbon credits that domestic companies can buy to count towards their carbon tax obligations.
China’s Hainan floats use of ocean sink carbon credits in local offset scheme
The island province of Hainan has become the latest Chinese jurisdiction to release regulations for a so-called “inclusive” small-scale carbon offset scheme, reiterating the regional government’s focus on the development of blue carbon and other nature-based projects.
Australia Market Roundup: Labor secures Greens vote for National Reconstruction Fund, ACCU issuance flat
The Australian government has gained enough parliamentary votes to ensure its A$15 billion ($9.9 billion) National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) is passed thanks to support from the Greens in the Senate, while the issuance of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) remains modest.
Japanese shipping and steel firms team up for carbon neutral iron ore shipment
Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and steel manufacturer Kobe Steel have offset CO2 emissions from the fuel used in the ocean transport of iron ore from Australia to Japan with the purchase of carbon credits for the Rimba Raya forestry project in Indonesia, the two companies announced on Thursday.
ICE announces auction for cookstove carbon credits to drum up corporate demand
The ICE exchange has announced more offset auctions as it attempts to drum up corporate demand to lay the groundwork for standardisation in the voluntary carbon market (VCM).
BIODIVERSITY (FREE TO READ)
Biodiversity Pulse Weekly: Thursday March 9, 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).
Stakeholders cautiously welcome Australia’s proposed nature repair market, but litany of concerns remain
Feedback on the Australian government’s nature repair market draft legislation has highlighted the proposal’s current lack of detail, calling for greater clarity on key areas, while some are concerned about the potential for perverse outcomes, particularly in jurisdictions where conservation laws are lacking.
CORRECTION – On track for initial goals, $1-bln conservation fund launches incubation offshoot
(Corrects Wednesday’s story on Rimba Collective membership, coverage of FKL venture)
Premium job listings
- Technical Director, Climate Action Data Trust – Singapore
- Global Project Partnerships Coordinator, NatureCo – Australia (Remote)
- Associate Principal, Natural Capital, CrossBoundary – Flexible Location
- Senior Program Officer, Corporate and Financial Institution Relations, Verra – Remote (Worldwide)
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Argus Asia Carbon Conference – Mar. 14-16, Sarawak, Malaysia: Organised by Argus Media in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Sustainability Sarawak (MEESty), and with host sponsor Samling Group, the Asia Carbon Conference will take place on Mar. 14-16 in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. Join us for the first industry leadership conference for carbon offsetting and trading in Asia to get ahead of your competitors in a rapidly growing global market. This is your opportunity to interact, learn, and network, for the answers you need on fundamental questions about carbon offsets: how do they work, and how might they impact Asia? Find out more
North American Carbon World (NACW) 2023 – Mar. 21-23, Anaheim: For 20 years, the NACW conference has been the place for carbon professionals working in North American carbon markets and climate policy to learn, collaborate, and network. Taking place Mar. 21-23 in Anaheim, California, NACW 2023 will dive into new policies and developments that will shape and scale carbon markets and climate solutions with integrity, ambition, and equity. Register now to gain actionable insights for bold climate solutions and participate in premier networking opportunities with an active and engaged audience to strengthen your organization’s strategy for navigating the carbon landscape.
European Climate Summit (ECS 2023) – Mar. 28-30, Lisbon: Registration for the 5th edition of the European Climate Summit organised by IETA and partners is open. The ECS brings together leading private sector experts and policymakers from both the carbon and energy world, to analyse and discuss the current developments and pressing challenges. The summit provides a discussion and networking forum for policymakers, business leaders, and innovators involved in building, scaling, and collaborating on markets for net zero. The event will feature high-level plenaries, cross-cutting deep dives, interactive side events, and quality networking opportunities. Registration here
Carbon Forward Asia – May 2-3, Singapore/Online: Carbon Forward is coming to Asia! Join us in Singapore or watch the conference online, and gain valuable insights into the trends and developments in carbon pricing throughout the Asia Pacific region. We will discuss investment opportunities across compliance and voluntary carbon markets, as well as transport initiatives such as CORSIA and SAF for aviation and shipping sector programmes, the impact of the EU’s carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), CCS crediting, developments under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, corporate climate goals, and other exciting topics. We are curating a high-level programme for this rapidly-evolving region, with the agenda and speaker line-up to be released soon. Early Bird tickets are now available. Purchase yours now
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
Carbon tracking tools by NASA – Researchers from more than 60 countries have used measurements from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission and a network of surface-based observations to estimate CO2 emissions and removals in more than 100 countries. The study, published in Earth System Science Data, offers a top-down approach to quantify increases and decreases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations from 2015 to 2020, providing valuable insights into the CO2 being emitted and absorbed by forests and other carbon sinks in these countries. This pilot project demonstrates how space-based tools can support insights on Earth as nations work to achieve their climate goals. Although the OCO-2 mission was not designed to estimate emissions from individual nations, the findings come at an opportune time as the first Global Stocktake to assess the world’s collective progress toward limiting global warming, as specified in the 2015 Paris Agreement, is scheduled for 2023. (Environment+Energy Leader)
One voice – EU countries on Thursday agreed to push for a global phasing out of fossil fuels among their climate diplomacy priorities this year, with the bloc’s 27 development ministers signing off on a joint stance after rewriting a contentious section on nuclear energy. The text aims to set out the EU’s diplomatic priorities ahead of this year’s COP28 UN climate summit. Confirming a draft seen by Reuters on Monday, the document said the EU would back “towards energy systems free of unabated fossil fuels well ahead of 2050.” The approval has been delayed by disputes over whether EU diplomacy should promote low-carbon hydrogen – meaning hydrogen produced from nuclear electricity – or focus on hydrogen produced from renewable energy. The latest draft did not specify which type of hydrogen the EU would promote but said EU diplomacy would also promote sustainable “low-carbon technologies”. On carbon pricing, the ministers signed off on text saying tha “the EU encourages partners to establish and extend their own carbon pricing instruments to reduce emissions effectively and efficiently”.
Subsidy war – Billions of dollars in clean energy incentives are poised to speed investment on American soil while putting the EU’s energy transition at risk by luring away money and talent, executives said this week at a US energy conference, EurActiv reports. President Joe Biden’s landmark IRA climate package was signed into law last year and has caused trade tensions between Washington and allies competing for cash and skilled labour to advance a shift from fossil fuels and combat climate change. US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the Biden administration makes no apologies for the IRA, and challenged EU allies to follow the US lead by providing more subsidies of their own. European energy companies echoed the call for Europe to come up with its own new incentives, stating at the event this week that they like the simplicity of the US package.
Life in the EU – An investment of over €116 mln will help eight projects in Belgium, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and Finland, as part of the EU environment programme ‘LIFE’ approved on Thursday. The initiatives will focus on nature conservation and restoration, water quality and waste management, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. “These eight new projects will enable entire countries and regions to successfully reduce emissions, restore nature, and ensure sustainable use of resources,” said the executive vice-president in charge of the EU Green Deal, Frans Timmermans.
More research needed – UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) published a new position statement on the use of carbon offsetting for activities funded by UKRI grants. Based on current research, UKRI has concluded that there is currently insufficient evidence that carbon offsetting is an effective means of achieving permanent carbon reductions. UKRI said that it recognises that carbon offsetting will have a role to play in the future and UKRI is working with partners and supporting research in this field. “Current research has informed our position that carbon offsetting should not be used for activities funded by UKRI grants, and I hope the statement announced [Thursday] will clarify our position. UKRI will continue to review this position as evidence and research further develops,” said Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, executive chair of the Natural Environment Research Council.
Danish capture – Project Greensand has become the first venture to achieve cross-border CCS, by shipping CO2 from Belgium and injecting it into a depleted oil field under the Danish North Sea in an inauguration witnessed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday, EurActiv reported. Read Carbon Pulse’s reporting on how the project’s 23 organisations including chemical firm Ineos intend to store up to 8 MtCO2e every year by 2030
Subsidy shun – US President Joe Biden on Thursday proposed a budget that would scrap billions of dollars in oil and gas industry subsidies, reviving a perennial debate about whether fossil fuel companies should be receiving lucrative tax breaks. While the proposal has little chance of making it through a divided Congress, it represents a political signal from the White House, which has repeatedly criticised Big Oil for raking in record profits at a time of high consumer energy costs since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Reuters)
The number 12 looks like this – The White House’s fiscal 2024 budget asks for $12 bln for the US EPA, a 19% increase over its current enacted level and a record high amount that’s almost certain to be trimmed during congressional negotiations. The money would be used to drive a wide range of President Joe Biden’s environmental priorities, such as winding down carbon emissions, cleaning up pollution, addressing environmental justice, and catching and penalising violators. The EPA’s current enacted budget is $10.1 bln, its highest level since 2010. But that figure is also 14.7% lower than what Biden had requested. With Republicans now in control of the House, and Democrats holding only a narrow majority in the Senate, the fight over the EPA’s budget is likely to grow far more intense. (Bloomberg Law)
Industrial decarbonisation – The Biden administration said on Wednesday it is directing $6 bln in funding to speed decarbonisation projects in energy-hungry industries like steel, aluminum, and cement making that contribute nearly 25% of US GHG emissions. The Industrial Demonstrations Program will provide competitive grants to technology developers, industry, universities, and others for up to 50% of the cost of projects that aim to cut emissions from industry that also includes production of chemicals, ceramics, and paper, the Department of Energy (DOE) said. The program is part of President Joe Biden’s pledge to decarbonise the US economy by 2050. US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the programme will help cut pollution while ensuring the competitiveness of American manufacturing. (Reuters)
Capturing the record – In 2022, there were a record 66 carbon capture project announcements in North America based on Decarbonfuse data, according to a company announcement. With emerging carbon hubs across North America, announced projects are concentrated in areas of industrial emitters with access to geologic carbon storage. Carbon storage hubs account for about 30% of the 2022 announced projects. The robust carbon capture projects will require about $33 bln in capital to develop the greenfield and retrofit carbon capture projects over the next three to four years. The 66 project announcements include three types of carbon capture: CCUS from point source emitters; DAC facilities; and bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) facilities.
CCUS pipeline protest – Residents living above a proposed pipeline route in Illinois which would take captured CO2 emissions and sequester it deep underground, are protesting its potential for leakage and damage to the environment, Reuters reported Thursday. The company that owns the pipeline, Navigator CO2 Ventures, could request other states that its Heartland Greenway pipeline runs through use eminent domain to force a sale of the land. But unlike other affected states of Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota, the Illinois law doesn’t cover eminent domain in underground pore space. That could mean Navigator would have to individually negotiate land purchases throughout the entire Illinois route. The company has restarted its permitting process in Illinois, and must secure land rights within an 11-month time frame of submitting.
Green revolution – The Climate Council says Australia could undergo a ‘new industrial revolution’ if it seizes on the global transition to renewables, and manufactures critical metals and other clean industry materials onshore, Renew Economy reports. But the council says doing so will require serious policy change, according to its new report, Australia’s Clean Industry Future: Making Things Here in a Net Zero World. In the report, Climate Council points out that Australia has abundant natural resources that could make it an industry leader in the transition to a net zero world – that includes massive underground deposits of minerals needed in clean energy technology, as well as enough sunlight to theoretically power the nation 100,000 times over. To get there, Australia would need to clean up its key manufacturing industries, including steel, aluminium and ammonia production.
Pakistan project – Oracle Power has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Electric Power and Technology (CET) to potentially develop, finance, construct, operate, and maintain a green hydrogen project in Pakistan, Renews.biz reports. The project, to be located in Thatta, in the Sindh Province, will include a hybrid renewables and storage facility, combining 700 MW of solar and 500 MW of wind power, plus battery storage. CET is a wholly owned subsidiary of State Grid Corporation of China. The MoU with CET, which has a mandate to finance, build, operate and maintain large renewable power generation projects within and outside of China, is focused on accelerating the development of Oracle Energy’s Green Hydrogen Project. The planned facility, when fully commissioned, would produce an estimated 150,000 kg of hydrogen per day and would be one of the largest such projects in Asia.
Thai deal – B.Grimm Power PCL, one of the leading private energy producers in Thailand, and Envision Digital, the global decarbonisation software leader headquartered in Singapore, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly research, develop and grow technological capabilities in support of building a net zero future in Thailand and globally, a press release from Envision stated. Both parties have agreed to collaborate on R&D activities that will contribute towards reducing carbon emissions and play an important role in the transition to a net-zero energy future. These include in areas such as green hydrogen, smart cities, batteries manufacturing and recycling plants. Both companies will also work together to establish an advanced digital operation model for industrial parks, which would serve as a framework for future smart and net zero industrial parks.
First for Laos, biggest for Southeast Asia – Scandinavian technical advisory firm AFRY will provides services to the Asian Development Bank’s 600 MW Moonsoon wind power project in Laos, which will not only be that country’s first ever wind project, but also the largest in Southeast Asia, with 133 wind turbines, according to a press release from the company. The wind farm is owned by Monsoon Wind Power Company Limited (Monsoon) and sponsored by a group of developers led by a leading Thai company in power construction and renewable energy development. The Monsoon project is financed by loans from a pool of financial institutions composed of some of the most renowned international banks, funds and financial agencies in the Asian region, together with the Asian Development Bank as mandated lead arranger and bookrunner. The bank had earlier awarded AFRY as their Lender’s Technical Advisor (LTA) for the technical due diligence phase on the Monsoon wind farm, with the company now set to continue with the same role during the project construction and operation phases.
Misguided, reckless – Activist investor Snowcap has called on oil and gas giant Santos to ditch its “misguided and reckless growth strategy” it said was ignoring the shift away from fossil fuels, calling for Santos to invest in low-emission projects and focus on shareholder returns, the Nine Newspapers report. Snowcap partner Chris Kinnersley said Santos boss Kevin Gallagher needs to return to the capital discipline that he used to turn the company around after he joined in 2016. Despite the global energy transformation to green power, Santos has embarked on a $7.2 billion spending spree on major new oil and gas projects from 2021 to 2025, the activist investor pointed out. That contrasts with just $150 million spent in the first five years of Gallagher’s tenure as CEO. Seeking to put a halt to those projects, Snowcap launched a “Reform Santos” campaign on Thursday. Environmental activist group Market Forces, meanwhile, urged shareholders to vote against Santos’ remuneration report at the company’s April 6 annual general meeting. Market Forces executive director Will van de Pol said Santos’ executive remuneration was inconsistent with its support for the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.
Call for nuclear – China’s energy-intensive sectors should increase the adoption of fourth-generation nuclear power reactors to cut emissions further, the chairman of state-owned China National Nuclear Power has suggested during the country’s annual parliament meetings, Yicai reports. China should optimise the policies and approval process for high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) projects and promote such technologies in the petrochemicals and steel industries, Lu Tiezhong said in his proposal to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Also, Chinese provinces that focus on the development of wind and solar energy should promote nuclear power as baseload plants to support the transmission of electricity generated by renewables, Liu noted.
Less taxing taxonomy – Carbon advisory firm First Climate is adding an EU taxonomy service to its platform after taking a stake in the Austrian-based technology company Viridad, it announced Thursday. Customers will be able to access the platform online and, according to their individual needs, analyse their respective business activities for compliance with the EU taxonomy, perform sustainability assessments, and use digital solutions for non-financial reporting. By 2026, and with the introduction of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), the obligation to report on sustainability in accordance with the EU Taxonomy will be extended to a large number of additional companies and will affect all businesses in the EU, First Climate stated.
Agritech investment – The GrowHub, a Web3-enabled plug-and-play ecosystem builder focusing on food traceability and carbon credits, has closed a $3 mln pre-Series B investment round. The investors include strategic individuals, including the company’s CEO and founder Lester Chan. The GrowHub will use the funds to continue building technology offerings and strengthen its technology capabilities as it expands across the Asia Pacific region. In addition to tracking the footprint of food from producer to consumer, The GrowHub also facilitates transparency and reliability in tracing carbon credits with its SaaS platform. The company allows producers, funders, and regulators to differentiate and authenticate carbon footprint at source, with initial use cases deployed around soil carbon market integrations. (e27)
Passing reZEMBAlance – Global nonprofit organisation Aspen Institute on Thursday announced the formation of the Zero Emission Maritime Buyers Alliance (ZEMBA), alongside co-founders Amazon, clothing company Patagonia, and coffee chain Tchibo. In a press release, the Aspen Institute said through ZEMBA, freight buyers will accelerate the commercial deployment of zero-emission shipping, enable economies of scale, and help minimise maritime emissions. By working together, ZEMBA members will offer committed demand to build confidence among investors, carriers, ship owners, and producers of zero-emission fuels and renewable energy.
SCIENCE & TECH
DAC (cost) attack – A new direct air capture technology is said to remove CO2 from the atmosphere up to three times more efficiently than current methods, according to research published in the journal, Science Advances. The warming gas can be transformed into bicarbonate of soda and stored safely and cheaply in seawater, say the authors, who hope the new method could speed up the deployment of the costly technology that has so far only been deployed at small scale. (BBC)
Superconductor breakthrough – US scientists say they have produced the first commercially accessible material that eliminates the loss of energy as electricity moves along a wire, a breakthrough that could mean longer-lasting batteries, more-efficient power grids, and improved high-speed trains. A group of researchers at the University of Rochester report that they have created a new superconductor that can operate at room temperature and a much lower pressure than previously discovered superconducting materials. The breakthrough has the potential to create lossless electrical grids, and better and cheaper magnets for use in future nuclear fusion reactors, among other things, according to Ranga Dias, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and physics at the University of Rochester, who led the breakthrough work. That is because perfect conductors that work in everyday, ambient conditions don’t require expensive, large cooling systems. (Wall Street Journal)
Winter warmer – Europe is emerging from its second-warmest winter on record, EU scientists said Wednesday, as climate change continues to intensify. The average temperature in Europe from December to February was 1.4 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average for the Boreal winter season, according to data published by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). That ranks as Europe’s joint-second warmest winter on record, exceeded only by the winter of 2019-20. Europe experienced a severe winter heatwave in late December and early January, when record-high winter temperatures hit countries from France to Hungary, forcing ski resorts to close because of lack of snow. The European Commission said on Jan. 2 that hundreds of temperature records had been broken across the continent, including the Swiss town of Altdorf reaching 19.2C, smashing a record standing since 1864. C3S said temperatures were particularly high in eastern Europe and the north of Nordic countries. While overall temperatures in Europe were above the norm, some regions were below-average, including parts of Russia and Greenland. (Euractiv)
ESG assault – A conservative group leading the charge against “woke capitalism” is taking its campaign to the next level, giving US congressional leaders a detailed roadmap for dismantling the ESG movement. A new report from Consumers’ Research provides a lengthy list of specific questions for House Republicans at public hearings to establish fact patterns for litigations and to prove asset managers are forsaking fiduciary duty in the name of political goals. Last week, House Republicans passed a resolution to strike down a Labor Department rule that allowed for some ESG investing by pension funds. Two vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in 2024 – Sens. Joe Manchin and Jon Tester – broke with the White House to join Republicans in passing it, which will likely lead to Biden’s first veto of his presidency. Meanwhile, investors appear to be leaving a leading anti-ESG fund. Strive Asset Management has cornered a niche in markets, with a public pushback against the prevailing winds of ESG and the launch of several dedicated ETFs in a short period. The group was prominent in the news cycle in February when co-founder Vivek Ramaswamy announced he would run for US president and relinquish his role as chief executive. The speedy rise of the Ohio-based group came to the fore last summer when billionaire Peter Thiel was among several high-profile backers for the asset manager, which quickly set its sights on ‘anti-woke’ investment vehicles. Chief among these was its flagship Strive US Energy ETF, designed to support the traditional domestic energy market and focus on profits over politics/ESG. Initial client interest was so strong that the group announced the fund had gained $238 mln in assets in its first two weeks since launch in Aug. 2022. Assets in the fund – which included Exxon Mobil (22.7%) as its largest weighting – shot past $400 mln for the first time at the end of January. However, data to the end of February indicates a combination of market forces and withdrawals have eroded this. According to Morningstar, the fund, known as DRLL, ended January with $403 mln in AUM, but this fell back to $348 mln in the end-of-February data. (Axios, Citywire)
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