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European carbon prices dropped by 4% on Friday to a two-week low, with the bulk of the heavy and likely speculator-driven losses coming late in the day and confirming forecasts by some that the recent rally was not sustainable.
California carbon made another jump this week as politicians agreed on a proposal to extend the state’s carbon market to 2030, though the gains were tempered by uncertainty over some of the details.
The UK government has delayed by a year a plan to exempt EU ETS-regulated manufacturers from contributing to higher power costs caused by renewables targets, saying the move would provide industry more certainty while saving it £132.5 million over 10 years from 2018.
Sweden-owned utility Vattenfall has upped its ETS-regulated thermal power generation in H1 as profit margins improved due to higher power prices, raising its demand for carbon allowances despite closing its remaining lignite-fired plant last year.
Paris-based consultancy and climate finance project developer EcoAct has bought UK environmental sustainability advisors Carbon Clear for an undisclosed sum.
Below is a table of the closing prices, ranges and volumes for China’s regional pilot carbon markets this week. All prices are in RMB, and volumes in tonnes of CO2e. Data sourced from local exchanges.
A table of Verified Emission Reduction (VER) prices and offered volumes, based on voluntary market data provided by CTX.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The greenest of Brexits – UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove will pledge to deliver a “green Brexit”, vowing to set global standards on policies from animal welfare to air quality, in his first keynote speech on the environment, according to The Independent. Gove will also claim that leaving the EU presents a historic opportunity to reform farming, fisheries, and land management. But he’s being warned by environmental campaigners not to “water down” EU rules and regulations aimed at tackling air pollution and climate change.
Korea converted – South Korea’s new president will rely heavily on the country’s nascent cap-and-trade programme and a plan to quadruple renewable energy to meet GHG reduction goals, the country’s climate change ambassador told Bloomberg BNA. “After 2020, this [emissions trading] system will be fully, deeply rooted in our climate change policy, so it will be established as one of the most effective tools” against climate change, Kim Chan-woo said in an interview at his office in Seoul. “In the past, we didn’t think this carbon-pricing scheme would be very effective,” Kim said in the July 19 interview. “Now, ETS is the basic foundation for Korea to address climate change or to reduce greenhouse gases.”
So here’s the plan – The Trump administration provided details for its aggressive plan to roll back environmental regulations on Thursday. In the first regulatory agenda of the Trump administration, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget detailed when and how agencies plan to repeal numerous Obama-era rules regarding air and water pollution, fossil fuel extraction and more. Many of the rollbacks had already been announced, though some new timelines or justifications were revealed. (The Hill)
Having another go at it – US Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii are introducing a carbon tax bill next Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute, Axios reports. If that sounds familiar, that’s because they did the same thing two years ago with another carbon tax bill. Meanwhile, former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson urged lawmakers to back a carbon tax in private meetings last week, E&E News reported yesterday.
Stop the chop – New research suggests paying landowners small sums not to cut down their trees in developing countries could be an effective method to curb deforestation. Across 60 villages in Uganda, the researchers found that the loss of forest was reduced where landowners were offered voluntary payments and deforestation was not simply shifting to nearby lands. The benefits of the avoided CO2 emissions amounted to $1.11 a tonne, which far exceeded the programme’s cost of 46 cents a tonne. (New York Times)
Cost rethink – The US state of Minnesota is mulling an update to its social cost of carbon metric, which is at around $5/tonne and hasn’t been updated beyond tracking inflation since the late 1990s. Regulators could issue a decision next week. The measure, used to determine the rigour of environmental regulations, was at around $36/tonne at federal level under the Obama administration but is under review under Trump. (Utility Dive)
What a gas – Germany’s RWE plans to build Britain’s biggest gas-fired power station on the site of its defunct Tilbury biomass plant in Essex. RWE said that planning was underway for the 2.5GW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant, and that it is also considering building an energy storage facility and a 300MW capacity open cycle gas turbine plant on the same site. RWE said any final decision to build the CCGT at Tilbury would depend on “future market conditions and commercial viability”, notes the FT, which added that other companies including ScottishPower have plans for large CCGTs in the UK but have not yet forged ahead as subsidies on offer have been too low to make their plans affordable. (Carbon Brief)
And finally… California fallout – California Assembly member Melissa Melendez resigned Thursday from her position as assistant leader of the Assembly’s Republican Caucus, saying she could no longer serve alongside its leader Chad Mayes because of his decision to vote to extend the state’s cap-and-trade system earlier this week. She called his decision “a dereliction of duty to preserve and promote the American Dream for every single Californian.” Under pressure from some party activists to step down because of his vote, Mayes met with his caucus for more than an hour on Thursday and emerged saying he remains its leader. He was one of eight Republican lawmakers to support bills reauthorizing California’s carbon market beyond 2020. Melendez’s resignation comes days after a right-wing activist called for Mayes to step down amid accusations that he was having an extramarital affair with his predecessor and that Democrats had used this to pressure him into supporting the reauthorization package. The accuser – Joseph Turner, the executive director for conservative group American Children First – has since written to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting a federal investigation into the matter.
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