CP Daily: Monday January 8, 2018

Published 22:30 on January 8, 2018  /  Last updated at 22:30 on January 8, 2018  / Stian Reklev /  Newsletters

A daily summary of our news plus bite-sized updates from around the world.

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German coalition envoys favour abandoning 2020 climate goal

German political parties negotiating a new coalition government are prepared to drop the country’s domestic 2020 climate goal, it emerged on Monday, although the government is already paying for foreign initiatives that could theoretically narrow the gap to the target.


EU Market: EUAs sink on reports German coalition govt could bin 2020 climate goal

EU carbon and wider energy prices sank on Monday on reports that German political parties negotiating a new coalition government were prepared to drop the country’s domestic 2020 climate goal.


ADB seeks Paris carbon market link with sustainable development goals

The Asian Development Bank has developed a methodology for assessing the co-benefits of emission reduction projects that it says could be part of the international carbon market under the Paris Agreement.


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What makes you two so special? – The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday rejected a proposal from the Department of Energy to subsidise coal and nuclear plants, instead turning to regional grid operators to assess how best to enhance the resilience of the power system. According to Utility Dive, the five-member FERC voted unanimously to reject the proposed rule from Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to provide cost recovery for plants with onsite fuel supplies, writing that neither DOE proposal nor comments in the record showed that existing market rules are unjust and unreasonable. The decision notably rejected calls from coal and nuclear plant operators to enact short-term support for struggling power plants.

Mostly good – China’s National Development and Reform Commission has released its annual evaluation of provincial government efforts to meet the country’s carbon intensity target. Fourteen provinces – including all those hosting pilot emissions trading schemes – were rated “excellent” for 2016 while 13 achieved “good” ratings. Four provinces and regions failed their targets: Guangxi, Liaoning, Qinghai and Tibet.

All change, except if you refuse – The UK’s Greg Clark has been reappointed as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in Monday’s cabinet reshuffle as media reports suggested he was unwilling to move and that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted he himself remain as Health Secretary rather than move to BEIS.  The BEIS Secretary of State role also includes Britain’s climate change file.

Forest filling – The UK has pledged £5.7 million to kickstart the creation of a forest spanning northern England that is eventually expected to include the planting of 50m trees and cost £500m over 25 years, with more than £10m committed by the Woodland Trust and the remainder still to be raised. The Trust claims the new woodland will help tackle climate change by locking up an estimated 8m tonnes of carbon. The government has set a goal of 12% woodland coverage in order to help meet its non-ETS targets to cut climate emissions. (The Guardian)

New math – The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Jan. 3 issued an order finalizing carbon cost estimates that utilities must use when planning new infrastructure projects, setting them at a range of $9.05 to $42.46 per short ton in 2020.  According to Utility Dive, the order builds on a July decision that increased carbon cost values from $0.44 to $4.53 per ton of emissions. Regulators finalized the discount rate used for the carbon values — 5% for the low end of the pricing range and 3% for the high end — and calculated value ranges for utilities to use out to 2050. The order comes as the federal energy regulators and the Trump administration abandon the use of social cost of carbon metrics developed during the Obama administration, in part over qualms with discount rates.

Salty power – New Brunswick utility NB Power is betting C$7 million on a promising but untested new way to generate electricity without emitting greenhouse gases: turning seawater from the Bay of Chaleur into energy. According to CBC, the plan would convert the province’s Belledune generating station to hydrogen power by 2030, after coal is phased out. However, NB Power and its collaboration partner Joi Scientific, a start-up headquartered at Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre, remain tight-lipped on the project. Extracting hydrogen from water and storing and transmitting it has been considered too difficult and too expensive, but Joi Scientific says in a promotional video that it “has solved the problems that have kept hydrogen from being widely used for energy.” The C$7 million is paying for further research into how Joi’s technology would apply at the plant, which sits less than 200 metres from the ocean.

And finally… Leaving so soon? – US EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has told associates he’d be willing to lead the Justice Department should the position become available, according to two people familiar with the matter. According to Bloomberg, the former Oklahoma attorney general has discussed the matter in recent days amid renewed speculation about the tenure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said the people, who asked not to be identified describing internal conversations. Bloomberg and other media reported last week that President Trump ordered his White House counsel, Don McGahn, in early 2017 to lobby Sessions not to recuse himself from the DOJ’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Sessions recused himself anyway, a move that infuriated Trump.

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