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EU member state envoys on Wednesday approved the post-2020 ETS reform bill, sending carbon prices higher and bringing a law-making process more than two years in the making closer to completion.
South Korean carbon allowances ended at record high levels on Wednesday as prices continue to be pushed up on minimal volumes with emitters willing to pay ever higher amounts for scarce units.
China is expected to put in place a fully operational national emissions trading scheme with prices around the $11/tonne level by the end of the decade, a survey showed.
The UK government aims to keep its domestic carbon price near current levels of around £24/tonne until 2025, it said in its autumn budget released Wednesday, a move that will allow the rest of the EU to catch up to Britain’s high national price via the bloc’s carbon market but which could endanger the country’s long-term climate goals.
EU carbon surged on Wednesday after news emerged that EU nations had given their backing to the post-2020 EU ETS reform bill, but the gains proved short-lived and prices finished in the red for a fifth day.
California issued more than 1 million offsets to six projects this week, according to Air Resources Board data, taking the total number awarded by the state above 86 million.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Bad timing – South Dakota regulators say they could revoke TransCanada’s permit to operate the Keystone pipeline in the state if an initial probe into last week’s spill finds the company violated its license. The Keystone system linking Alberta’s oil sands with US refineries spilled 5,000 barrels, days before neighboring Nebraska approved a proposed a route for the company’s separate Keystone XL expansion project. The spill in Marshall County was the third along the Keystone route in under 10 years, a concern to state regulators since the pipeline’s lifespan is up to 100 years. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt hailed Tuesday’s approval by Nebraska but said he was “very disappointed” by the spill. “There needs to be some accountability there, but very, very excited about the approval overall of the pipeline,” he said. (Reuters)
The methane gang – Exxon, Shell, BP and five other big oil and natural gas companies have announced that they are joining forces to work on ways to cut emissions of methane from their US-based natural gas production, according to Wall Street Journal. Exxon’s participation leaves Chevron as the only major US oil company to not partake.
Keeps falling – The price for onshore wind power fell a further 10% in Germany’s third auction for the technology to an average of 3.8 cents/kWh. The federal grid agency said the winning bids came almost exclusively from projects proposed by citizen cooperatives. But the country’s Wind Energy Association (BWE) warned that while the price drop is good news for consumers and policymakers, it raises the risk that the construction of such projects will fall off a cliff in 2019 and 2020, because the schemes bet on technologies that are not yet established on the market. (Clean Energy Wire)
Get us out of this – A court in Hungary has set aside the environmental license for a proposed 500MW lignite uit at the existing Matra plant. The court said inadequate definition in the assessment study of the area to be affected by the proposed lignite plant meant the review needed to be redone. The German utility RWE, which is the majority owner of the existing plant, is attempting to sell its stake in the project. However, the court ruling raises doubt about whether the company or potential buyers will persist with the plan for the new unit. (CoalWire)
Industrial output – Environmental campaigners Sandbag have launched a call for evidence, seeking views on barriers and opportunities to industrial decarbonisation in Europe and how the EU ETS and other policies could better incentivise decarbonisation of energy-intensive industry. The call closes on Dec. 31.
Has California built its last natural gas plant? – Two pending decisions from state regulators will decide how California moves toward a clean(er) energy future. Read more from Utility Dive.
And finally… No sleep til Montreal – Judith Garber, a career diplomat in an acting position at the US State Department, is set to lead the Trump administration’s delegation to talks this week marking the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol. Does the name sound familiar? It’s because she also led the US delegation to COP23 earlier this month after a more senior State official bowed out at the last minute due to a family emergency. According to Axios, by not sending a higher level official, it shows the continued low priority the administration places on environmental and climate change issues, embodied by the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. However, this time could be different, because a handful of US companies are expected to benefit from the phasing out of HFCs under Montreal’s recently approved Kigali Amendment, because the firms offer more climate-friendly alternatives. Politico says a key issue to watch during the talks is the money promised for Montreal’s Multilateral Fund, through which rich nations will help developing ones with their efforts to phase out HFCs.
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