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California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) approved changes on Friday to maintain higher fuel economy standards in the 2021-2026 period in response to the Trump administration’s recent proposal to keep the federal standard static at the 2020 level.
The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board (APCB) postponed a decision until late October on proposed cap-and-trade regulations that would set a more stringent 2020 emissions limit, officials said Friday.
A US court ruled Thursday that New York’s zero emissions credit (ZEC) programme to subsidise nuclear energy does not impede on federal authority, marking the second time this month that a federal court has upheld the state-led initiatives.
EU carbon prices gained for the second straight day on Friday, climbing above €21 after another strong auction helped recover more lost ground from big drops earlier in the week.
Four companies have picked up 50% of the 128.6 million German carbon allowances auctioned in the first eight months of 2018, a new report shows.
Germany should impose market mechanisms such as more stringent carbon pricing to drive its clean energy transition, instead of its current complex support mechanisms, the country’s federal audit office said Friday.
Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rose 1.3% in the year to Mar. 31, largely due to a massive increase in export-focused LNG production and despite a reduction in emissions from the power sector.
Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator issued some 49,900 carbon credits this week, around half the recent average, while one more project finalised its delivery obligations with the Emissions Reduction Fund.
Closing prices, ranges and volumes for China’s regional pilot carbon markets this week.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Positive about neutrality – Canada, Denmark, Spain, and the UK joined the now 19-strong Carbon Neutrality Coalition of nations pushing to deliver net zero emissions during the second half of the century in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. It requires members to publish long-term strategies by 2020 that set out how they plan to achieve their goal. (BusinessGreen)
Swift exit – A quick end of coal-fired power production in Germany and a parallel expansion of wind and solar power capacities would reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to meet the 2020 and 2030 climate target in line with the Paris Agreement, according to study by research institute Fraunhofer and commissioned by Greenpeace. “Only a coal exit will make Germany’s Energiewende a success for climate protection,” Greenpeace’s Anike Peters says. In the Fraunhofer scenario, the most polluting lignite plants with a capacity of 6.1 GW would be shut down by 2020, while the remaining 7.4 GW older than 20 years would be throttled down before all lignite plants reduce their output by 2025. At the same time, solar and wind power capacities would be expanded across Europe and the price for CO2 emissions would climb to €40 per tonne. “Germany can have a secure power supply without coal by 2030,” says Fraunhofer researcher Norman Gerhardt. The study also says that Germany’s Hambach Forest would not have to be cleared to make way for coal mining if there were a rapid coal exit. (Clean Energy Wire)
World Bank report card – Over the past two decades, the World Bank Group (WBG) has emerged as a major actor in initiatives to build carbon trading markets, under the UNFCCC process and beyond. The WBG currently acts as a trustee for 15 individual carbon funds and facilities. It maintains that the primary function of these funds is to encourage the development of a global carbon market and support carbon pricing and other instruments aimed at reducing global GHGs. The WBG has been active in the ‘proof of concept’ of carbon trading schemes, creating the first-ever carbon fund with the establishment of the Prototype Carbon Fund in 1999. The Bretton Woods Project’s Inside the Institutions analyses the role of the World Bank in carbon finance initiatives, including managing trust funds linked to carbon trading measures under the Kyoto Protocol, and supporting emissions trading schemes adopted by countries and sub-national entities. It notes that a repeated criticism of the bank’s carbon funds and facilities is that they fail to actually significantly reduce emissions, despite this being their raison d’etre. In addition, it highlights issues regarding the that the bank’s efforts to kickstart REDD and its historical contributions to increasing emissions via fossil fuel projects, despite promoting renewable energy globally.
Panning expansion – An US industry group said it will fight the expansion of 15% ethanol blend (E15) sales amid rumours this week that the Trump administration is looking to approve the year-round use of the fuel. The American Petroleum Institute (API) sent a letter to President Trump on Wednesday saying the organisation will “step up” its campaign to block the move, and the group told reporters during a conference call on Friday that the EPA does not have the legal authority to grant the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver to allow the sale, which needs to be done through a Clean Air Act amendment instead. (Politico, DTN/The Progressive Farmer)
Change of tune – Chevron now says it backs a carbon tax, under certain terms, E&E News reports ($). “It would have to be a ‘well-designed policy,'” spokesman Sean Comey said by email to the publication. That appears to be a shift from last year, when a Chevron spokeswoman told the same publication “that the company ‘does not support general calls for implementing a price on carbon.’” (Axios)
Minimising methane – Detroit-based DTE Energy announced on Thursday that it will reduce its methane emissions by more than 80% by 2040, without specifying a baseline year. The company said in a press release that it will achieve these reductions by replacing steel and cast iron pipelines at a more accelerated pace than recommended by the US EPA, as well as installing new materials for main and service lines and high-strength steel for transmission lines. DTE is planning to retire all of its coal-fired power plants by 2040 to cut carbon emissions by 80%, as well as doubling its renewable energy capacity to 2,000 MW by 2022.
Cost convergence – The cost of electric and combustion drive trains will converge by the second half of the 2020s and then cross over, causing electric cars to become cheaper than those with conventional combustion systems, according to new analysis by BNEF. At that point, electric car sales are expected to boom, with BNEF predicting that 30 mln electrics will be on the road around the world in 2030, up from 4 mln today. By 2040, that number is expected to grow to 560 mln, a third of the global fleet. (Axios)
Get SMART – The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) on Thursday issued an order launching an incentive programme for 1,600 GW of new solar projects. The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) programme was approved by lawmakers in 2016 to incentivise development of solar resources, targeting projects under 5 MW located in areas like rooftops, parking lots, and landfills. Regulators say the SMART initiative, which will be administered by the Department of Energy Resources, will save ratepayers an estimated $4.7 billion over current programmes. (Utility Dive)
No third wave – Washington DC-based ClearView Energy Partners view this week’s amendments to the LCFS as part of a first wave of major, state-level GHG pricing programmes. Others include California’s cap-and-trade and RGGI. They also now see potential for a second wave of significant new programmes comprising at least five states over the next 15 months: Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, Virginia, and New York. However, a closer look at the economic fundamentals and political circumstances of states considering carbon prices for one or several of their economic sectors suggests that they are distinct from – rather than typical of – the un-priced, uncontrolled states that make up the balance of the nation. “In light of these differences, a third wave of states currently seems unlikely, in our view,” ClearView said. “Nonetheless, we see signs that states with carbon prices may expand their pricing programs into new sectors or supplementing existing pricing programmes to increase climate ambition.”
Dirty drive – The brakes are being slammed on Ontario’s controversial Drive Clean auto emissions plan. Premier Doug Ford announced Friday that as of Apr. 1 of next year, the “outdated” mandatory program for passenger cars and trucks will lend. Instead, the Progressive Conservative government will clamp down on big commercial polluters by enhancing the smog checks on transport trucks and other industrial vehicles. (Toronto Star)
Brothers in arms – Premier Ford will attend an anti-carbon tax rally in Calgary next week, which is being hosted by Alberta’s United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney. The Oct. 5 event comes as Ford’s Progressive Conservative government has filed a legal challenge to the federal backstop carbon pricing scheme after scrapping the province’s WCI-linked carbon market, while Alberta’s poll-leading UCP has pledged to follow suit if elected next May. (Calgary Herald)
12 for 12 – Arctic sea ice reached its summer minimum extent for the year, clocking in at 4.59 mln square kilometres and putting it at the sixth-lowest mark in 40 years of satellite records alongside 2008 and 2010. The announcement from the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center was provisional though, as “changing winds or late-season melt could still reduce the Arctic ice extent,” officials said. The 12 smallest summer lows during this period have all occurred in the past 12 years. (Carbon Brief)
Spliff tiff – The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday sued Elon Musk, CEO of California-based electric car manufacturer Tesla, for making misleading statements to investors. The suit specifies a tweet made by Musk last month that he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 a share, a number the CEO decided on “because of the significance that number has in marijuana culture, and his belief that his girlfriend would be amused by it,” SEC enforcement co-director Steven Peikin said. If successful, the lawsuit could prevent Musk from acting as an officer or director at a US public company, forcing him to step down from Tesla. (Climate Nexus)
Report back – The UN’s environment chief, under fire over huge travel expenses and rule-breaking, was forced leave the UN general assembly in New York early and return to his Nairobi headquarters to deal with the growing crisis. The problems for Erik Solheim, Norwegian head of UNEP, include the Netherlands becoming the latest nation to withhold millions of dollars in funding until the issues are resolved. The Guardian reports that Solheim has now recused himself from professional dealings with his wife and a Norwegian company that employed her shortly after it signed a deal with UNEP in April. Pressure is growing on Solheim after he was sharply criticised by a draft internal UN audit over his $488,513 globe-trotting travels that called them “contrary to the ethos of carbon emission reduction”. The audit also said he had “no regard for abiding by the set regulations and rules” and that he claimed unjustified expenses.
In the interim – An informational webinar guiding emitters through the interim RGGI control period compliance process is now available on the Compliance page of the RGGI, Inc. website. Previously released materials regarding the 2018 interim control period compliance process are available on the same page. For interim control period compliance, each participant must hold allowances equal to 50% of their emissions during each interim control period (the first two calendar years of each three-year control period). At the end of the three-year control period, each source source must hold allowances equal to 100% of their remaining emissions for the three-year control period. RGGI is currently in the first year of its 2018-2020 fourth control period, meaning all entities must hold allowances available for compliance deduction equal to 50% of their emissions by Mar. 1, 2019.
And finally… Our fate is sealed – Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees F by the end of this century, the Washington Post reports. A rise of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 4 degrees Celsius, compared with pre-industrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe. But the administration did not offer this dire forecast, premised on the idea that the world will fail to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed. (The Washington Post)
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