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President Trump on Tuesday fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement, further obfuscating the US commitment to climate action moving forward.
China will move its climate change office into a new Ecological Environment Ministry, the government said Tuesday, creating further uncertainty around the implementation of its national emissions trading scheme.
European carbon on Tuesday extended its 6.5-year high for the seventh time in as many days as another strong auction provided more fuel for the current rally.
RWE, the EU’s biggest-emitting company, maintained its hedging rates for 2017 though this meant it barely needed to advance over Q4 when margins for thermal generators were particularly thin and EUA prices were climbing.
The recently expanded US tax credit for CCS may lead to the largest uptick in investment in the technology to date, analysts from the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Monday.
The US EPA will allow bankrupt oil refiner Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) to surrender only a partial amount of its outstanding Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) obligation under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2), according to a court filing on Tuesday.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Whitehouse bicentennial – Democratic senators joined Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse today as he delivered his 200th weekly address to the upper chamber, Politico reports. Since Apr. 2012, Whitehouse has delivered remarks from the floor every week on various aspects of manmade climate change.
Happy out – Ireland will completely phase out coal-fired power generation by 2025, the country’s environment minister has announced. Ireland has agreed to join the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which was launched last year at COP23 and is made up of 50 nations, states and businesses. Ireland’s remaining coal-fired plant is state-owned utility ESB’s 855MW Moneypoint facility. Other European countries that plan to phase out coal by 2025 include the UK, Italy and Finland, while France has set a tentative deadline of 2022 and Portugal, Austria and the Netherlands are targeting 2030.
Gas is our only hope – ‘No credible scenario’ exists for hitting the UK’s 2050 decarbonisation targets without continued reliance on gas, the National Grid has warned. In a new report, the grid says it is not feasible to switch over to electric heating on the scale required to reduce GHGs to 80% of 1990 levels by the middle of this century. To fill the gap required to meet peak heating demand during the winter with electricity would require a seven-fold increase in generation capacity, it said, adding that while electricity demand currently peaks at around 60 GW, up to 350 GW of electricity would be required during winter cold snaps. “Electrifying heating would therefore require enormous increases in generating capacity and electricity network infrastructure, much of which would lie idle in the summer when heating is not needed. Using the gas system has the potential to reduce the volume of generation and reinforcement work required.” The grid added that a mass switch over to electric heating would also be disruptive and expensive. (Utility Week)
Passed on – The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (NHSEC) unanimously voted on Monday to suspend last month’s oral denial of the Northern Pass transmission line, but said it would wait until after a written decision is reached to decide the fate of the international hydroelectric project. Project developer Eversource had petitioned to the NHSEC to rehear its case for approving the 1,090-MW line, which would extend from southern Quebec through Southern New Hampshire and feed into the New England grid. However, Committee attorney Michael Icapino said that the NHSEC would not likely issue a final decision on the project until May, well after the Mar. 27 deadline that Massachusetts regulators had set for the line to attain the required permits necessary to supply the state’s grid. (InDepthNH)
Standard stand-off – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt indicated in an interview with Bloomberg that he would not allow more ambitious 2022-2025 vehicle emissions standards, set jointly by CARB during the Obama administration, to stand past an Apr. 1 deadline. Pruitt said that standards, which target an average fleet requirement for cars and light trucks of 50 miles per gallon, could be counterproductive in making auto manufacturers design cars that consumers do not want to purchase. Automakers have lobbied the Trump administration to revisit the standards as low gasoline prices have helped spur truck sales.
Report time – Occidental Petroleum, one of the biggest producers in Texas, quietly issued its first-ever climate change report earlier this month, Axios reports. The analysis is the latest from a string of fossil fuel companies responding to resolutions pushed last year by investors requiring more disclosure about what companies are doing to prepare for a carbon-constrained future. Much of the report is devoted to explaining how its decades-long practice of using carbon to extract oil will help it cut emissions. Occidental mostly uses naturally occurring CO2, but the company anticipates using more human-captured carbon with the passage of tax credits incentivising CCS technologies. It also finds that its oil resources won’t be impacted in a world that sees GHG emissions reduced to a level consistent with keeping temperatures from rising 2C. Separately, the management of energy infrastructure and pipeline company TransCanada has endorsed a shareholders resolution requiring the company to provide an analysis of how its long-term business prospects would be affected by a transition to a low-carbon economy, the Globe and Mail reports. The resolution submitted by two Quebec religious orders will be voted on at TransCanada’s annual meeting in April, and is part of a broader effort by institutional shareholders to assess the climate-related risks faced by the public corporations in which they invest.
It wasn’t all roses – Former White House advisor for energy and environment George David Banks detailed his experience in the White House Rose Garden last June, when President Trump announced that the US would leave the Paris Agreement. In an interview with the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, Banks said that he did not see the withdrawal speech until only several hours prior to the announcement, while also detailing the confusing nature of the administration’s interpretation of leaving the UN accord. “When I first looked at it, I think people who understand the issues recognize that maybe there were some things that didn’t quite reflect the reality of where some things are in the international climate process,” he said. Banks repeated his view that he expects Trump to re-negotiate the Paris deal rather than withdraw from it. (Axios)
And finally… Kinder Morgan Cop – Arnold Schwarzenegger says he plans to sue oil companies for “knowingly killing people all over the world.” In a Monday interview with Politico’s, the former governor of California says he is still working on a timeline and details for filing, and is in discussions with several private law firms about his effort. “To me it’s absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco,” he said. “Every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it … If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies.” A spokesman for the former California governor said the litigation would be undertaken through the Schwarzenegger Institute at the University of Southern California, with experts predicting that such a case would raise the profile of other similar lawsuits. (Climate Nexus)
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