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French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot resigned on Tuesday, due in part to what he said was the country’s lack of progress towards tackling issues relating to climate change, biodiversity, and the environment.
European carbon prices fell almost 3% on Tuesday to end the massive bull run that had seen EUAs gain as much as a fifth over the past seven sessions.
Australia’s new prime minister will defy calls from his party’s right-wing faction to ditch the Paris Agreement, partly over concerns that leaving would jeopardise ongoing talks with the EU over a free trade agreement, local media reported Tuesday.
New Zealand carbon allowances set yet another record high on Tuesday as policy fundamentals continue to suggest prices will go even higher in the future.
The US Justice Department (DOJ) filed a brief on Monday arguing that the Supreme Court should not accept petitions to overturn a lower court’s ruling over an Obama-era ban on potent heat-trapping gases, reversing course on an environmental policy that the Trump administration initially sought to defend.
Prices for California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credits on Monday fell out of the $180 range in which they had mostly resided for the past couple months, while regulator ARB announced that it will vote on programme amendments in September to conclude the year’s formal rulemaking process.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Stuck with coal – Pakistan has been facing an energy shortage crisis and is mostly solving it by building new coal-fired power plants – partly because neighbouring China is paying for it. More than half the energy-related loans from its neighbour in the east are going to coal projects, with nine currently under construction being fast-tracked. (Third Pole/BusinessGreen)
Stupid is as stupid emits – Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health. The research was conducted in China but is relevant across the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education. (Guardian)
Gotcha! – In the first seven months of the year, China handed out an astonishing 91,770 penalties for breaches of the national environment protection law, with fines adding up to a total $1.1 billion, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said. Details were sparse on what type of breaches dominated, but would likely have included anything from failing to report data to missing targets. The environmental law does not cover carbon, but the big number illustrates the difficulties China is experiencing in getting companies to follow environmental laws, as well as the government’s intention to make sure they are upheld.
Another missed update – The German government has failed to report the carbon emissions savings achieved by putting several coal plants into a security stand-by mode reserved for supply bottlenecks, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. An assessment scheduled for the middle of the year was intended to prove whether the security reserve achieved the emissions reduction goal of 11 to 12.5 Mt CO2 by 2020. “This process has not been finished yet due to its complexity,” the economy ministry said. If the goal is unlikely to be met, the government has to come up with alternative measures by December. The security reserve, which so far has not been used, is seen as a possible model for phasing-out the remainder of Germany’s coal plants, a procedure currently debated in Germany’s coal exit commission. (Clean Energy Wire)
Apocalypse normal – Climate change will create a destructive new normal in California consisting of intense heatwaves and destructive fires if nothing is done to limit GHG emissions, a new state-sponsored report found. California’s fourth annual Climate Change Assessment showed that large fires like this summer’s record-breaking Mendocino Complex and Carr fires will increase by 50% by 2100 and burn 77% more land under a BAU emissions scenario. Additionally, deaths from heat waves could double or triple by 2050, with Governor Jerry Brown saying that the findings will continue to guide the state “as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change”. (Climate Nexus)
Xcel into the future – Colorado’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) voted unanimously on Monday to give preliminary approval to Xcel Energy’s Clean Energy Plan, which would see the utility close 660 MW of coal-fired generation a decade earlier than scheduled and shift to renewable resources. Under the plan, Xcel will close units 1 and 2 at the Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo and invest $2.5 billion in renewable energy and battery storage. The utility expects the plan to save ratepayers $213 million. (Utility Dive)
Status update – Social media giant Facebook on Tuesday announced that it will aim to cut its GHG emissions by 75% by 2020 – without specifying a baseline – and will power its global operations exclusively with renewables by the end of that year. Facebook said that it had already met its goal last year of sourcing 50% of its power from renewables, while the GHG reduction target is the company’s first. Roughly two-thirds of the tech company’s 979,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions last year came from power data centres, and Facebook said that it will use a variety of contracting methods such as renewable energy tariffs and direct power purchase agreements to meet its clean energy goal. (Axios)
War of malnutrition – An additional 290 million people could face malnutrition by 2050 if little is done to stop the rise of GHG emissions, according to a new study. Research published in Nature Climate Change found that the increase presence of CO2 in the atmosphere could cause staple crops to yield small quantities of zinc, iron, and protein. Regions projected to be especially hard hit by the changes are India and parts of the Middle East and North Africa, areas that are already grappling with food insecurity. (Carbon Brief)
Capturing cash – Swiss carbon capture firm Climeworks has raised CHF 30.5 million ($31.3 mln) in equity funding from existing and new private investors and the Zurich Cantonal Bank, Reuters reports. It will use the funds to roll out its direct air capture technology costing currently around $600/tCO2 and prepare for its mass production. Climeworks’ main rival, Canadian-based Carbon Engineering, outlined the design of a plant that it said could extract CO2 from the air for perhaps as little as $94/tonne. Read Carbon Pulse’s article on Climeworks’ tapping of the voluntary carbon market here.
And finally… Tinder for transport – The leader of Quebec’s sovereigntist political party on Monday said that he will commission the development of “Tinder for carpooling”, funded in part by cap-and-trade proceeds, if elected on Oct. 1. Jean Francois Lisee, head of the Parti Quebecois (PQ), said that the application would match people who are looking for a ride with people heading to a nearby location, decreasing congestion on roads in the province and mimicking the design of the population location-based dating app. Drivers and each passenger would receive C$4 for every trip they take using the app – reduced to C$3 the second year – with the plan estimated to cost C$29 million in the first year and C$141 million by 2022-2023. The PQ said that all of the funding would be provided through the existing Fonds Vers programme, which is supplied by revenue from the province’s carbon allowance auctions and a dedicated portion of its gasoline tax. (Montreal Gazette)
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