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Hong Kong will launch a HK$100 billion ($12.8 bln) green bond programme, the government said, making it the world’s biggest sovereign facility of its kind.
A high-profile effort to pass the US’ first carbon tax in Washington state ended with a whimper on Thursday, with the legislation reportedly coming up a couple votes shy of making it out of the Senate.
Limiting oil production in California could prove just as effective to limiting the state’s GHG emissions as measures outlined in the state’s Scoping Plan, according to a new report.
California carbon prices advanced in the wake of the first WCI auction of the year, but dipped from Wednesday as news broke that the record offering had sold out.
Portuguese utility EDP reported a 30% rise in its ETS-regulated thermal output in 2017, matching a trend across southern Europe as drier weather curtailed hydroelectric generation last year.
EU carbon prices dipped back to just below €10 on Thursday but kept within reach of the previous session’s six-year high despite weak auction demand.
New Zealand carbon allowances pushed back above NZ$21 ($15.14) on Thursday, with market participants expecting a volatile time ahead amid regulatory uncertainty and choppy supply.
The board of the Green Climate Fund this week approved spending of over $900 million across 19 projects, including a large energy efficiency programme in Brazil and a private renewables scheme in India.
Carbon trading firm Virtuse has relocated its EU trading desk to Singapore and has hired a new trader to handle that market from Asia.
A new conference on carbon pricing research has been launched and will be held early next year, with organisers seeking applications from experts to deepen its programme.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Keep calm and carry on cooking – British households have been told to “carry on cooking”, the Press Association reports, despite National Grid issuing a gas deficit warning as fears mount that supplies could run empty and energy prices could skyrocket amid extreme weather conditions across Britain. The power operator said the warning has been issued in response to a series of “significant supply losses resulting in a forecast end-of-day supply deficit”. Household supplies are not expected to be affected but shortages could hit industrial users as the Grid attempts to balance supply and demand into Friday. Near-term UK power prices reportedly rose exponentially to near 1,000/MWh on Thursday, while gas climbed to around £3.50/therm – its highest in nearly 20 years. The cold snap rattling energy markets across Europe has revealed Britain’s vulnerability to gas shortages driven by a lack of capacity to store the fuel, Bloomberg reports. At the moment when the UK most needed a supply cushion to smooth out a surge in demand for gas and power, Centrica announced a 12-hour outage at its Rough gas storage facility under the North Sea. A British nuclear plant has also gone offline for an unrelated reason.
Forest force – Brazil’s Supreme Court has upheld the country’s 2012 Forest Code, which reduces pre-2008 penalties for past illegal deforestation and cuts the amount of land required to be restored. Environmentalists said the code creates a culture in which illegal deforestation is acceptable but farmers argue it brings certainty. Deforestation in the Amazon fell over 2016-2017 monitoring period for the first time in three years, although it remains well above the low recorded in 2012 and climate targets. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
RGGI re-up – A bill passed by Maine legislators approving post-2020 changes to RGGI went into effect on Thursday. LD-1657 sanctions the programme updates to the northeast carbon market’s Model Rule, including a 2.5% linear reduction factor of the 2014 annual allowance budget from 2022 – 2030. The change would also reduce the allowance budgets for 2021 – 2025 by an amount equal to the number of banked allowances greater than the amount required for compliance at the end of 2020.
RGGI rejection – As expected, the Republican-controlled Virginia Senate passed HB-1270 on Thursday, which would prevent the state from adopting or linking to a cap-and-trade programme without majority approval in both legislative chambers. The vote, which was split 21-19 down party lines, follows the House of Delegates passing the legislation in February. However, Governor Ralph Northam (D) has veto power over the legislation, and Republicans would need a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to override the veto.
CCS white knight – Royal Dutch Shell’s climate adviser David Hone, writing for the company’s in-house blog, says the US provision that expands the CCS credit to $50/tonne from $20 is a potential game-changer for the slow-to-catch-on tech, Axios reports. The credit also grew to $35/tonne for CO2 used in enhanced oil recovery, up from $10. “While $50 isn’t sufficient for every type of CCS project today, this amount could well be enough to unlock a wave of innovative projects, leading to new infrastructure, storage sites and technology improvements, giving birth to a real industry. Politics aside, this contribution from the United States could be the single most important step that any country takes in helping society reach the goal of the Paris Agreement.”
Quiet on cash – Intergovernmental green fund the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has ignored routine requests for assistance from Palestine since June 2016, according to a chain of communication spanning 20 months. As a UNFCCC member since 2016, Palestine is entitled to seek GEF support to fulfil its obligations to report GHGs. US-based GEF got $2.4 billion for 2014-18 funding from 39 donor nations, with 14% of that from the US, which has threatened to stop payments to organisations that accept Palestinian membership. (Climate Home)
L’Owering emissions – Cosmetics giant L’Oreal announced that it is aiming for its 21 American manufacturing and distribution facilities to achieve carbon neutrality by 2019. To drive emissions reductions at the company’s largest US plant in Kentucky, L’Oreal signed a 15-year agreement to source biogas from a landfill in the state and transmit it via pipeline to its facility. Speaking at the Climate Leadership Conference this morning in Denver, VP of Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability Jay Harf said that while the company did not want to solely use carbon offsets to drive its Kentucky project, it will purchase them from a renewable natural gas plant over the first five years of the landfill plan. Additionally, L’Oreal said that it will sell the environmental attributes of the biogas into the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) for use in transportation fuels during these five years, after which point the environmental benefits from the project would maintain the company’s carbon neutral goal throughout all its US facilities.
Driven – The newly-formed Automotive Technology Leadership Group, a collection of organisations associated with the vehicle industry, issued a statement of principles today calling on the Trump administration to refrain from weakening vehicle mileage and emissions standards. The group says that a protracted battle from the Department of Transportation and EPA to upend the standards – set in 2012 – could risk American manufacturers lose their competitive edge with industry jobs relocating abroad, while also suggesting that all regulatory agencies and stakeholders involved in the revisions use technology neutral and performance-based data when finalising the standards. (Axios)
Back in the pot – The deadline for Saskatchewan to agree to Ottawa’s carbon pricing framework has passed and the province – the only one that didn’t sign it – will now have to compete against other applicants for federal low-carbon funding. The C$62 million it would have received by signing the deal will now be put into the Low Carbon Economy Challenge Fund – a pot of around C$660 mln available for governments, First Nations, businesses, and non-profits looking to finance clean energy projects. (CBC)
And finally… Put me in coach – EPA boss Scott Pruitt has said he will only fly in economy class in the future, at least some of the time, ABC reports, after criticism that the agency was paying tens of thousands for him to fly in first or business class for most flights. The EPA had said that Pruitt flew first class because of an “unprecedented” number of threats against him, though when asked to elaborate, an agency official said it was to avoid profanity-laced confrontations with angry individuals on planes and in airports. Separately, Pruitt was voted the worst member of the Trump Administration in the latest New York Times poll. “It was a landslide. To be fair, if we had included Donald Trump himself in the balloting, I’m sure the big guy would have swept the field — actually winning the popular vote for the first time in his presidential career. But pitted against his peers, Pruitt walloped the competition.” Pruitt also topped the winner of the last ‘Worst’ survey, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose slide The Times’ op-ed column said “was due to a growing public realisation that she’s too inept to destroy the public school system, no matter how fervent the desire.” Ouch.
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