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The US will pull out of the Paris Agreement in a matter of days, US media reported on Wednesday, quoting a number of anonymous sources close to the process, as the EU and China prepare to announce an alliance to jointly take up the climate leadership torch.
A group of experts has released a set of recommendations that would overhaul the New Zealand emissions trading scheme, aiming to influence government officials finalising work to beef up the system.
EU carbon prices continued to pull back from recent highs, closing back below €5 following a late sell-off.
South Korean carbon allowances rose 0.5% on Wednesday, hitting a 2-month high as buying interest remains strong ahead of next month’s compliance deadline.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Not all bad news today – ExxonMobil shareholders voted Wednesday to require the world’s largest oil and gas company to report on the impacts of climate change to its business – defying management and marking a milestone in a 28-year effort by activist investors. According to InsideClimate News, 62% of shareholders voted for Exxon to begin producing an annual report that explains how the company will be affected, and the risks it faces, by global efforts to reduce GHGs under the Paris Agreement. Although the identity of voters wasn’t disclosed, a source familiar with the vote told the Washington Pose that major financial advisory firm BlackRock had cast its shares in opposition to Exxon management and that Vanguard and State Street had likely done the same. The three own more than 18% of the company. Last year, 38% of Exxon shareholders supported essentially the same measure, which at the time was a record.
A mole in our midst – The UK has been Donald Trump’s “mole” in attempting to undermine the Paris Agreement, according to The Independent. Documents leaked to Greenpeace suggest the UK has been working behind the scenes to turn mandatory obligations into voluntary ones, while also working against the assumption that EU nations should be on a linear path towards their targets.
Musk out – Tesla founder Elon Musk has threatened to leave the White House advisory council if Trump withdraws the US from the Paris agreement. Musk sits on two different WH boards — the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and the business advisory council.
Meanwhile out West – British Columbia’s main electric utility said Tuesday it will join the Energy Imbalance Market, a California-led programme that makes it easier for utilities to trade electricity across state lines, USA Today reports. The energy-sharing programme has allowed solar and wind farms across the West to boost production, displacing fossil fuels generation while saving western utility customers $174 million since 2014. Powerex Corp. – the energy marketing subsidiary of BC Hydro, Canada’s third-largest utility – will officially join the imbalance market in April 2018, becoming the first non-American power provider to participate. Mexico’s grid operator, CENACE, is also exploring whether its Baja California Norte region should join. BC Hydro operates 31 hydro plants, which could help California and other western states bring more solar and wind power online through helping the grid to store excess supply.
Separately, California will receive all of its power from renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, by 2045 under legislation that passed the state Senate on Wednesday, the LA Times reports. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León touted his bill, SB-100, as the most ambitious program in the world. The measure would also speed up the state’s goal of reaching 50% renewable energy, changing the deadline from 2030 to 2026.
Fortum-iper – Finnish utility Fortum is in talks with Germany’s EON about acquiring its 47% stake in legacy fossil fuel and trading business Uniper as part of a plan to buy the whole company, according to people familiar with the matter. Fortum is discussing a purchase of the German renewable company’s stake to lay the groundwork for a full takeover of Uniper, which is worth about €6.1 billion euros, the sources told Bloomberg. Talks are ongoing and no final decision has been made, and Uniper could also attract interest from other companies and buyout firms, they said.
Two more – London Gatwick and Lyon-Saint Exupery have become the latest European airports to achieve the highest carbon-neutral level of the industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, GreenAir Online reports. This brings the total of carbon neutral airports in Europe to 27, over half way to reaching an industry goal of 50 by 2030, with four other airports in Asia and one in North America also having reached Level 3+ neutrality.
And finally… This really sucks – The world’s first commercial plant to suck CO2 from the air opened today in Zurich, in what its creators are claiming is a “historic moment” for carbon negative technology, BusinessGreen reports. The Swiss Direct Air Capture (DAC) plant, developed by ClimeWorks, is up and running on the roof of a waste recovery site and is powered by waste heat from the facility, capturing CO2 at a cost of around $615/tonne. That price is expected to fall rapidly to around $200 in the next three years, and to below $100 before 2030, with sequestration expected to add another $10-20/tonne to the cost. The CO2 this facility is capturing will be used to boost plant growth at a nearby greenhouse run by German vegetable growers.
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