CP Daily: Wednesday August 1, 2018

Published 08:12 on August 2, 2018  /  Last updated at 08:14 on August 2, 2018  / Carbon Pulse /  Newsletters

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

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Maryland drives up RGGI emissions in Q2 to buck three-year decline

Electricity sector emissions covered by the northeast US RGGI programme rose 5.5% year-on-year in the second quarter as reductions in most states were offset by increased output in Maryland.


Canada announces sectors for high-leakage classification under federal carbon pricing scheme

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has named four economic sectors that will be deemed at high risk of carbon leakage as part of its output-based pricing system (OBPS), while also confirming other elements including a weakening of the programme reported by Carbon Pulse last week.

California LCFS credit bank shrinks as data reveals record quarterly deficit

Data released by California regulator ARB late Tuesday showed that the first quarter of 2018 generated a record credit deficit in the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), but still fell short of some participants’ expectations.


EU Market: EUAs hit fresh 7-year high as August auction squeeze begins

European carbon prices jumped 2.2% to their highest since May 2011 on Wednesday, as the first in a month of smaller auctions indicated strong demand.

Emitters raise EUA buying in June’s German auctions -report

Big emitters increased their buying in Germany’s EU carbon allowance auctions in June, government data shows, though speculators and intermediaries still accounted for half of all purchases.



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Nukes hot – French utility EDF said that forecasts of high temperatures along the Rhone river could lead to the shutdown from Aug. 3 of four nuclear reactors at St. Alban and Bugey that depend on its waters for cooling, Reuters reports. EDF did not say if the four reactors at its Tricastin nuclear plant, further down river, might also be affected. Three reactors there are on planned maintenance outages. The loss of output could boost demand for EUAs as thermal generators may be required to ramp up. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that temperatures could rise as high as 40 C in the south of France from Friday, while Iberia could be hot enough to break records. Power plants in Germany and Sweden have also been impacted by the hot weather.

Coal close-out – Global coal capacity should peak by 2022, if not sooner, as the amount of new coal capacity that began operating during the first half of 2018 nearly matched the amount retired. In a guest post for Carbon Brief, Christine Shearer of US-based energy research group CoalSwarm wrote that while 20 GW of coal capacity started up from January through June of this year, 16 GW was also shuttered, marking the slowest growth rate on record. However, even if global coal capacity peaks soon, the sector is set to breach its share of internationally agreed climate goals unless large numbers of coal plants retire early.

Two-pronged attack – The Trump administration is preparing to take a two-pronged approach to rolling back regulations cutting methane emissions from oil and gas wells, Axios has learned. The plans, as articulated by an administration official and corroborated by others tracking the topic, signal that the EPA is inclined to pursue a more aggressive rollback instead of a replacement approach. The EPA is planning to soon issue a smaller, more technical rulemaking that environmentalists say will weaken the Obama-era rule currently on the books, which affects new oil and gas wells only. The agency is set to later propose a broader draft rule that includes a range of regulatory options but likely contains a preference for wholly rolling back direct rules on methane and instead relying on a separate air pollution rule issued in 2012. This targets other air pollutants but has the effect of cutting methane too, according to Obama’s EPA at the time. In addition to those indirect cuts from the 2012 rule, an administration official also said the oil and gas industry has increased its voluntary efforts in this space, indicating a direct regulation may not be necessary.

Wheeler on waivers – Acting US EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday where he fielded a series of questions related to the ongoing reform efforts over the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Wheeler told the committee that while the EPA was looking at options to compensate for 2.25 billion biofuel credits waived through small refiner exemptions granted for 2016 and 2017, he said he was unsure the agency could reallocate the gallons retroactively as critics of the compliance waivers have called for. However, he did announce that the EPA was creating an online dashboard to provide information about waivers granted and “circumstances” leading to the decisions. Additionally, Wheeler noted that while the EPA is examining the possibility of granting year-round sales in 15% ethanol blends (E15), he reiterated that it would need to be part of a package RFS reform deal, contradicting President Trump’s statement last week that his administration was “close” to approving the measure. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer)

Renewables ruling – The DC Court of Appeals on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit by three natural gas suppliers challenging US wholesale electricity market operator NE-ISO’s rules that enhance renewable energy. The three-judge panel ruled in favour of NE-ISO’s exemptions in the capacity market price floor that allow renewables to submit bids below the Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR), because that rule is limited in size and tied to expectations of lower load growth in the New England market that will not suppress market prices. The decision comes after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) threw out capacity market rules in PJM, the US’ largest electricity market, arguing that state policies to support nuclear energy and renewables did in fact suppress market prices. (Utility Dive)

Good guidance – The Alberta Climate Change Office (ACCO) has published its Technical Guidance for Offset Protocol Development and Revision, which outlines the protocol development and revision process along with spelling out key requirements for both new protocol development and revisions to existing protocols. Specifically, the document updated references to the province’s Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation (CCIR) and Standards, provided more information on protocol revisions, and replaced most information on determining additionality with references to the Technical Guidance for the Assessment of Additionality.

Nitro 2.0 – The draft Nitrogen Management Project Protocol Version 2.0 is now available for public review and comment. Proposed updates to the Climate Action Reserve’s voluntary protocol include expanded applicability to new practices, crops, and regions; a new Excel-based quantification tool; modified benchmarks for the performance standard test for additionality; revisions to project, aggregate, and ownership structures; removal of corn stalk nitrate testing requirements for verification; and several other revisions to enhance usability. Public comments are due by Aug. 31, and an online public workshop will be held on Aug. 15 to discuss and respond to questions on the draft protocol.

Aid train – Over 10% of UK foreign aid for climate change projects was channelled through 79 private consultancies, or more than £875 million since 2011. Analysis of Department for International Development (Dfid) data found 77% of that went to just five large British or Dutch firms – Adam Smith International (ASI), KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), IMC Worldwide, and Crown Agents. (Climate Home)

And finally… “Unsurvivable” – China’s most densely populated and agriculturally prosperous region could see regular “unsurvivable” heatwaves by the end of the century if emissions continue at current rates. A study published in Nature Communications found that heatwaves in the fertile North China Plain region, including capital Beijing, would be so intense by 2070 that they could kill people in just a matter of hours. Many of the region’s 400 million inhabitants work in the agricultural sector with few alternatives to labouring outside, exacerbating their vulnerability. (Climate Nexus)

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