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The UK’s future in the EU ETS is distinct from its move to exit the bloc, though the government is exploring options to trade carbon with other partners as some in the EU seek to use the issue as a Brexit bargaining chip, Britain’s climate minister Claire Perry said Tuesday.
A lead committee of MEPs on Tuesday voted to toughen the EU’s 2030 energy efficiency and renewables targets, increasing the chances that the ETS’ price signal could be weakened without stricter governance measures.
EU carbon prices lost ground on Tuesday as lawmaker endorsement of ETS reforms was pushed into next year, while gains in the dollar squeezed margins for coal-fired power producers.
Exchange operator ICE has nearly halved its EU carbon auction bidding fees while bringing in provisions to improve the transparency of participation costs for third parties.
New Zealand carbon permits on Tuesday made fresh post-election gains following a rangebound three weeks, as traders await clearer signals from the new government.
A new report on forest finance shows that investments in the forest sector fall far short of what’s needed to end deforestation. Conserving and restoring tropical forests could deliver up to 30% of the carbon savings necessary to keep the average global temperature rise to 1.5C, only about 1% of international development funding for climate mitigation is directed towards this.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Hear us out – Some of the US Clean Power Plan’s biggest critics are today urging the EPA to replace the regulation at hearings in Charleston, West Virginia – a message that conflicts with political pressures agency boss Scott Pruitt faces from conservative interests who want him pursue dismantling more climate regulations including the science-based endangerment finding. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, US Chamber of Commerce and representatives of major utilities that all opposed the rule will nonetheless call for EPA to write a new one that will stand up to lawsuits and provide planning certainty, Politico reports. Many utilities want the EPA to write flexible standards aimed at improving coal plant efficiency, while coal-reliant organisations want a new rule to defend in court before the end of this administration. But climate change-denying groups, who want Pruitt and to target the endangerment finding, see a new rule as tacit acceptance that the finding is unbeatable. More than 270 people are slated to speak at the hearing.
Pull your weight – The German energy sector could achieve a 40% CO2 reduction by 2020 if an extra 5 GW of brown and hard coal-fired power stations were shut down in the next few years, industry association BDEW says. The energy association finds in its analysis that due to an increase in renewable power and a decrease in the use of hard coal, the energy sector would reach a 38% reduction anyway by 2020. To fill the remaining gap, coal plants could be compensated to go offline. The compensation could be determined by a bidding process, the BDEW suggests. “It’s obvious, the energy sector is contributing its share, in contrast to other relevant areas, such as in particular the transport sector,” BDEW chairman Stefan Kapferer said in a press release. (Clean Energy Wire)
Beware the train cushion – Price cuts by US railroads that ship coal are helping to soften the fuel’s decline in electricity markets, according to a blog by UC-Berkeley’s Severin Borenstein. The research shows that in some markets, coal-fired power plants served by single railroads, which hold lots of sway over pricing thanks to lack of competing shippers, have cut their margins when coal prices have come under pressure from cheap natural gas. Borenstein adds that this railway pricing effect has been an overlooked aspect in the widespread discussions of coal’s economic competitiveness going forward. (Axios)
The fat lady hasn’t sung yet – Despite a unanimous vote by a citizen’s air pollution board earlier this month, Virginia faces several hurdles, including possible court and legislative challenges, before it can hook up to RGGI, reports Southeast Energy News. “The biggest threat,” said Will Cleveland of the Southern Environmental Law Center, is “legislation in the General Assembly attacking or rolling back DEQ’s (Department of Environmental Quality) authority to address carbon pollution or some sort of budgetary manoeuvre to defund DEQ’s efforts.” “In court, I’d anticipate litigation similar to (opponents’) challenges to the Clean Power Plan, attacking DEQ’s authority to regulate carbon.” Some experts doubt any opposing measure will halt the move to link to RGGI, but lawmakers could still delay or complicate steps needed to begin trading emissions allowances.
O’naughty – Ireland’s GHGs have risen by 7% since 2015 despite policies designed to reduce them. This means that the country is “likely to face multimillion-euro fines for failing to meet EU 2020 targets or will have to spend similar amounts buying credits from member states who overachieve on their targets”, the Times writes. The increases, caused by an expanding economy, were found in the agriculture, transport and energy sectors, and have undone all progress made since 2009. (Carbon Brief)
And finally… Start your engines – Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres is to join retired four-times Formula One world champion Alain Prost in leading Formula E’s Global Advisory Board, the electric motor racing series announced on Monday. The board is made up of leading names from various sectors to advise on topics such as sustainability, the media and business, Reuters reports. Members include Formula E founder Alejandro Agag, the chairman of Chinese telecoms company SINA Charles Chao, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief marketing officer Gerd Mauser, and former McLaren F1 team boss Martin Whitmarsh.
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