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China has launched a trading scheme to improve fuel efficiency among car manufacturers, and to help boost the production of so-called new energy vehicles (NEVs) while cutting transport emissions, though the government’s own data shows the market will be oversupplied in its early years.
Norway’s state-owned oil and gas producer Equinor has acquired Danish energy trading firm Danske Commodities (DC) for €400 million euros ($470 mln), it announced Friday.
EU carbon prices rebounded from a morning dip to end Friday within reach of the previous session’s one-month high, as the ongoing heatwave boosted prospects for an uptick in utility demand.
Voters in Arizona will decide in November whether to endorse a marked increase in the US state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) after campaigners turned in more than double the necessary signatures for the ballot initiative on Thursday.
Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator has issued 367,879 carbon credits over the past two weeks, with a NSW-based forestry scheme earning nearly a third of the volume.
Below is a table of the closing prices, ranges and volumes for China’s regional pilot carbon markets this week. All prices are in RMB, and volumes in tonnes of CO2e. Data sourced from local exchanges.
EU carbon prices will retest last month’s seven-year high by the end of the year before hitting €20 in 2020, according to a poll of analysts conducted by Carbon Pulse.
Embattled US EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned as leader of the country’s environmental office on Thursday after a multitude of political and financial scandals, with deputy administrator and former coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler slated to become the acting agency head on Monday.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
A more modest proposal – The EPA is expected to submit its rule to replace the Clean Power Plan (CPP) to the White House in the coming days, with industry attorneys familiar with the plan telling The New York Times that the replacement regulation is less stringent than the original version released by President Obama in 2015. The new proposal would call for modest upgrades in reducing the emissions of individual coal plants, such as energy efficiency measures or fuel substitution, rather than more comprehensive and systemic changes like switching from coal to natural gas or renewables as envisioned under the previous regulation. While some observers felt that it was a positive that the EPA is still planning on regulating GHG emissions, the plan is also reported to feature additions from outgoing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that would give states significant leeway in enforcing the rules. The CPP aims to reduce power sector emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Sovereign pressure – Six sovereign wealth funds – Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Norway, and New Zealand – laid out a strategy on Friday to pressure companies to be more climate-friendly via a pro-environment investment framework that includes obligations for companies to calculate their carbon footprints. French President Emmanuel Macron is backing the initiative and expects it to influence other big asset managers. (Reuters)
Watch what you wish for – Pruitt’s departure as EPA head will likely mean a less scandal-prone agency that could be more effective at carrying out Trump’s deregulatory agenda, former agency officials and energy lawyers told Utility Dive. They said deputy director Andrew Wheeler, who has taken over as acting EPA director, has experience as a lobbyist, as an aide to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla), and as a staffer in the EPA’s Pollution Prevention and Toxics office early in his career that could help him be more effective than the outgoing administrator. And most experts don’t expect the overall direction of the agency to change under Wheeler or a new Trump-appointed EPA chief. But Axios says the President is unlikely to nominate a replacement for Pruitt until at least after he gets through his Supreme Court nominee, and probably not until after November’s midterm elections.
We’re ok, thanks – FERC will not ask the US Supreme Court to review a landmark district court ruling that found the commission failed to adequately consider the impact of GHG emissions before issuing a favourable environmental review for a trio of natural gas pipeline projects in the southeast US. A FERC spokeswoman confirmed to NGI on Thursday that the Commission did not request a review of the ruling issued last August by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Sierra Club et al v. FERC, No. 16-1329. The district court ruling had concurred with environmental groups that FERC failed to adequately consider the impact of GHGs when it issued a favorable environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Southeast Market Pipelines (SMP) project in Dec. 2015. District court records indicated that FERC had until July 2 to file a petition.
Coal toll – The Trump administration’s plans to issue a directive that would prop up struggling coal and nuclear plants would lead to one American death for every two to four coal jobs it creates over the next two years, according to research from think-tank Resources for the Future. The study released on Thursday found that the plan would generate less than 800 additional positions in the coal industry between 2019 and 2020 while contributing to the premature deaths of anywhere from 353 to 815 people over the same stretch. Additionally, the authors said that CO2 emissions would increase by 22 million tonnes, equivalent to putting 4.3 mln more cars on the road. (Climate Nexus)
Divested in Dublin – Ireland is one step closer to becoming the first country to divest funding from fossil fuels after the government agreed to back a bill blocking investment, The Times reports. Paschal Donohoe, the finance minister, has secured agreement from his cabinet colleagues to back plans to ban the National Treasury Management Agency, which manages the assets of the state, from investing in fossil fuels, meaning any existing investments must be given up. The bill will make Ireland the first country in the world to take the measure to fight climate change. The legislation would give the NTMA five years to end its investments.
Reputation rap – Shell’s boss Ben van Beurden said it would be “foolhardy” for the oil major to set hard targets to reduce carbon emissions as it risked exposing the company to legal challenges. Shell last year set out an aspiration to halve its emissions by 2050 but resisted setting binding targets. Van Beurden said risking both Shell’s and his own reputation was a big enough incentive to get it right. (Reuters)
20,000 leagues under – A new study suggests that liquid CO2 could be injected beneath the seafloor, where it “could form hydrates that create a ‘cap’ that prevents it from leaking into the ocean”. Scientists in China have simulated the method under 22 different scenarios, with variations in pressure and temperature to mimic real-world conditions. The study, published in Science Advances, builds on previous investigations that have shown liquid CO2 under high pressure and low temperatures spurs the production of hydrates. (Carbon Brief, Bloomberg)
Holy toolbox – Carbon pricing should not be seen as the holy grail of climate policy nor as a standalone solution, according to Richard Cowart of NGO Regulatory Assistance Project. He argues that carbon pricing has limited reach and – especially in electricity — can be expensive for consumers. High carbon floor prices also don’t reduce the surplus of allowances and may not even reduce emissions. He said policymakers should deploy other instruments in the low-carbon toolbox, especially recycling carbon revenues to advance end-use energy efficiency. (Energy Post)
Making good time – Although the majority of Hawaii’s electricity still comes from oil, the state is running ahead of schedule towards its 100% renewable energy goal by 2045. A report issued by the Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO) found that more than two thirds of Hawaii’s electricity grid is sourced with petroleum – compared to less than 1% across the US – with coal following in second place at 15%. However, the state exceeded its 2015 Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) target of 15% by over 12 percentage points, and energy efficiency standards are also helping to lower the costs of electricity prices in the 50th state, which are double the rest of the nation. Average monthly electric bills dropped to $145 in 2017 from $202 in 2011. (Utility Dive)
And finally… Temporary bully – Although President Trump said Thursday that new acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler “was very much an early Trump supporter”, a Facebook post from Wheeler in Feb. 2016 seems to suggest otherwise. Supporting Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s (R) bid for the presidency at the time, Wheeler wrote that Trump “is a bully”, in addition to questioning his political beliefs and lack of knowledge of how the government works. However, Wheeler told The Hill that he had made those comments while working on the Rubio campaign, reversing course in June 2016 when Trump gave a speech in West Virginia that Wheeler called “the most comprehensive energy speech by a presidential candidate I had ever heard. I then joined the Trump campaign and worked on environmental policy for him.”
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