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CARBON FORWARD 2018
Switzerland will start buying its first international credits next year to help meet its emission goal under the Paris Agreement, marking one of the first trades under the pact, an official said Thursday at the Carbon Forward 2018 conference in London.
RGGI allowances prolonged a two-year high on the secondary market as speculators continued to add support, while California units saw minor gains ahead of the upcoming compliance deadline and auction.
Continued GHG reductions in the electricity sector contributed to total US emissions dropping by 2.6% in 2017, while states exploring carbon pricing options saw a similar trend last year, according to EPA data released on Wednesday.
A Michigan state representative introduced a bill Wednesday to expand the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 100% by 2050, just months after major utilities and environmental campaigners agreed to a short-term clean energy compromise.
European carbon finished higher on Thursday, climbing back towards €20 as buyers once again emerged as prices neared the €18 mark.
Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator last month accredited the highest levels of new renewable energy capacity since Apr. 2001, confirming the nation is all but certain to meet its 2020 large-scale Renewable Energy Target (RET).
ICYM – FROM CF2018
It will be “utterly impossible” for the UK to remain in the EU ETS post-Brexit, a senior European legislator said Wednesday, arguing that the relinquishment of control involved by British government in such an option makes it politically unfeasible.
Analysts expect EU carbon prices to soar over the next decade, but they differ vastly as to how much as they factor in this year’s tripling of EUAs and the impact of a cadre of new speculators.
EU lawmakers are expected to resist Poland’s call to intervene to dampen soaring carbon prices, but may step in if prices surge again or more member states complain, a conference heard on Wednesday.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Not what you want to hear – Global emissions will rise to a new high in 2018, making the chances of keeping global temperature increases to 1.5C or 2C “weaker and weaker every year,” the head of the International Energy Agency Fatih Birol said on Wednesday. Speaking at a conference in Paris, Birol said data from the first nine months of the year shows emissions increasing once again this year, with the numbers giving him “some despair”. Birol also said the growth in renewables has not been large enough to reverse CO2 emissions trends, and more bioenergy is critical to prevent future temperature rises. (Euractiv)
Tipped off – The tipping point of the global energy transition will come in 2035, according to a new report from energy advisory firm Wood Mackenzie. The group found 15-20% of global power needs will come from wind or solar power by that year, and the generation would be enough to displace roughly 100 billion cubic feet per day (2.8 bln cubic metres) of natural gas demand. Additionally, the study reported upward of 15-20% of all miles travelled globally by 2035 would be made by vehicles powered by electricity rather than gasoline or diesel. (Politico)
Clean on truckin’ – The European Parliament’s environment committee has backed a 35% emissions reduction for new trucks by 2030 – a target that is higher than the 30% proposed by the European Commission. The MEPs also supported an intermediate target of 20% by 2025. Manufacturers will also have to ensure that zero- and low-emission vehicles (which emit at least 50% less) represent a 5% market share of the sales of new cars and vans by 2025, and 20% in 2025. The lawmakers also proposed that 50% of new buses should be electric from 2025, and 75% by 2030. This comes after the full EU Parliament recently backed 40% emission targets for new cars and vans, as well as a credit system to encourage electric vehicle sales. EU environment ministers subsequently agreed to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars by 35% and from vans by 30% below 2021 levels by 2030. Trilogue negotiations between the three EU institutions will attempt to find common ground on all of these targets.
Colorado carbon tax coming? – Colorado Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis said during a debate on Wednesday night that he would pursue a revenue-neutral carbon tax if elected on Nov. 6. Polis didn’t give details of his proposal, but he said the new revenue collected from fossil fuels would be used to reduce personal income taxes. “I would rather tax polluters than individual, hard-working families,” Polis said at the 9NEWS debate in Fort Collins. The five-term US Congressman, who has supported federal carbon tax efforts, currently leads Republican rival Walker Stapleton in the polls. (The Colorado Sun)
Matter over mine – The Welsh government intends to reject future coal mining applications as a matter of policy, BBC News reports. Under proposed new planning rules that are due to be finalised this year, Wales would only allow permission under exceptional circumstances that consider the context of climate change emissions targets and national energy security. There are only two opencast coal mines operating in Wales. (Carbon Brief)
Please sir, can we have some more – Britain’s largest power generators have called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to resist watering down the carbon taxes that have helped wean the country off coal. In a letter seen by the Daily Telegraph, the bosses behind energy giant SSE, wind power developer Orsted, and coal-generator Drax said the existing £24/tonne carbon price is “crucial” to the industry’s post-Brexit confidence.
Break on through to the other side (of the Atlantic) – A clean-energy venture led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced on Wednesday that it is forging a new partnership with the European Commission. Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a $1 billion fund created by Gates and other billionaires in 2015, is creating a joint investment vehicle called Breakthrough Energy Europe. The fund, which will be worth a total of €100 million ($115 million), will invest in European companies working to cut GHGs, with half of the funding coming from the EC and the other half from Gates’ fund. (Axios)
Brunswick benefits – New Brunswick residents would receive more money from carbon dividend cheques than they would pay in carbon taxes if the Canadian federal government imposes its ‘backstop’ plan on the Maritime province in 2019, according to a new study released Wednesday from think-tank Canadians for Clean Prosperity and economist Dave Sawyer of EnviroEconomics. The study found a middle-income family in the province could expect to pay about C$403 in carbon taxes, but the same family would receive C$645 in dividends. Lower-income families would even come out further ahead on average. However, New Brunswick’s carbon pricing plan is in flux, as the Progressive Conservatives have indicated they will not impose carbon pricing if asked to form a minority government in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Premier Brian Gallant’s Liberal party has redirected a portion of the existing fuel tax towards climate change initiatives, effectively relabelling it a carbon tax in an approach that may fall foul of Ottawa.
Fifteen for a moment – The number of pending small refinery exemptions (SREs) for 2018 submitted by regulated parties under the US Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has increased by four this month to 15, according to updated data from the EPA. That adds to the eight waivers still pending for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years, with the number likely to grow ahead of the programme’s 2018 compliance deadline next March. Separately, researchers at the International Council on Clean Transportation wrote in a blog post that the RFS will support less than half of the commercial or demonstration-scale cellulosic fuel projects in the US or that export these fuels to the country. They noted many projects have received direct government funding through grants and loan guarantees, but given policy uncertainty, “it’s unlikely that the RFS is a major factor in attracting private investment”.
Sights on 100 – Professional services giant PwC this week joined The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative to source 100% clean power for its global operations, an aim it has committed to achieve by 2022 across its 21 main territories accounting for 88% of its revenue. Additionally, the company said it will offset all air travel emissions from this July by purchasing carbon credits, including from the construction of a 140MW wind farm in Turkey and a reforestation project in Borneo. PwC UK had previously set a science-based target to reduce its total absolute carbon emissions by 40% by 2022 against a 2007 baseline, as well as offsetting its entire Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions since 2007, including through REDD+ schemes. (Edie)
More methodologies – The American Carbon Registry (ACR) is soliciting public comments through Nov. 18 for two offset methodologies. The first concerns updates to the Methodology for Avoided Conversion of Grasslands and Shrublands to Cropland Production that would simplify use and better align with conservation programmes. The second proposes a new Methodology for Capturing and Destroying Methane from US Coal and Trona Mines that the ACR said would eliminates the potent GHG that would otherwise be vented into the atmosphere. The projects developed under the protocol would also contribute to mine safety initiatives and increase the supply of a clean energy source when the methane is channelled toward the production of heat or electricity.
And finally… Trust your instincts – President Trump conducted an interview with AP this week that was filled with questionable scientific statements. The president suggested the scientific community was split on the IPCC’s 1.5C Special Report released this month, claimed the air is “cleaner than it ever has been”, and said the US would have been at a “tremendous economic disadvantage” if it stayed in the Paris Agreement. Additionally, Trump said that he has a “natural instinct for science” because his uncle was a nuclear physicist at MIT. (Climate Nexus)
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