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EU carbon prices suffered a fourth day of heavy falls on Tuesday, tumbling more than 8% before a late round of buying lifted prices back above €16.
China still plans to bring emissions-intensive manufacturing industries into its national ETS as soon as possible as it is set to start the programme with only the power sector, an official said Tuesday.
The European Commission on Tuesday adopted proposals to amend the EU ETS Auctioning Regulation to allow for the 2020 start of carbon allowance sales for the bloc’s Innovation Fund, as well as the renewal of Germany’s auction platform contract, amid critical feedback from one of its exchange partners.
Swedish utility Vattenfall’s EU ETS-covered thermal power output dropped 3.5% to 22.2 TWh over the first nine months of 2018, the company said in quarterly financial results on Tuesday, reflecting its reduced demand for allowances.
A petition filed Tuesday on behalf of a dozen environmental organisations accuses the US EPA of illegally allowing millions of acres of wildlife habitat to be converted to cropland to satisfy the federal biofuels programme, releasing millions of tonnes of GHGs in the process.
The UN has launched a tender to buy some 140,800 Gold Standard CERs, including a batch from projects with co-benefits for women.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Allocate this – The European Commission has published a draft proposal to update its EU ETS free allocation rules regulation. Discussion on these rules has taken place for several months in a fast-track rulemaking process that gives limited scrutiny to member states and stakeholders under the so-called Expert Group on Climate Change Policy. The draft includes a compromise of keeping the free allocation for flaring waste gases until 2025, as outlined in Monday’s Carbon Pulse article here.
RGGI emissions due – RGGI compliance entities have until Wednesday to submit Q3 emissions data for affected units. So far, 21.3 million short tons have been reported in Q3, marking a 4% increase over the same period last year. Eight units have yet to submit emissions figures, with those units producing more than 1.2 mln tons in Q3 2017, according to RGGI data. Regardless of their output, RGGI emissions are unlikely to exceed the 28.4 mln tons emitted in Q3 2016.
California data too – California is set to reveal Thursday if any entities were out of compliance with the scheme’s first full trading period (2015-2017) that includes fuel emissions, and will release 2017 emissions data on Monday, an official said. The state’s full emissions data will help determine the current surplus in the market and the amount of emissions uncovered due to La Paloma’s bankruptcy filing. The state will release more detailed compliance data for the entire second compliance period in December, officials have previously said.
Loose lignite – The Canadian federal government is proposing to loosen emissions standards for power plants that burn coal, like New Brunswick Power’s Belledune station, according to CBC. In an email to the news outlet, an official in Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s office said that a federal commitment to banning coal stations in 2030 makes heavy carbon taxes on coal unnecessary, given the cost it would impose on consumers. While the Belledune station emits 838 tonnes of emissions per GWh of electricity, the new federal proposal would exempt 800 tonnes of that from carbon taxes, lowering plant’s effective CO2 charge rate to C$0.91 per tonne. The plant, which emits up to 2.8 Mt of CO2 annually, comprises part of an equivalency agreement between the feds and New Brunswick in which the latter pledged to shut down the provincially-owned plant by 2030 if it received assistance from Ottawa and the private sector.
Moving along – Saskatchewan Environment Minister Dustin Duncan on Tuesday introduced legislation to facilitate key components of the province’s price-less climate mitigation plan. Bill 132, The Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Amendment Act, provides the regulatory framework for performance standards introduced in August for reducing GHGs among facilities with annual emissions in excess of 25,000 tonnes of CO2e. It also sets up the framework for the Saskatchewan technology fund, performance credits, and offsets as part of the performance standards approach. Ottawa announced last week that it will impose the federal government’s output-based pricing system (OBPS) on the province’s electricity and natural gas transmission pipeline sectors that Saskatchewan opted not to cover under the standards. (The Canadian Press)
Coop’s cuts – North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order Monday that sets a state-wide emissions goal of 40% below 2005 levels by 2025. The order also commits the southern state to adhering to the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. Cooper’s order calls for at least 80,000 zero-emissions vehicles in the state by 2025 and the reduction of energy consumption in state government office buildings. However, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) data shows the state is already at one-fourth of its 40% goal. The act also creates the government’s first climate change committee, which would be made up of people from every state-run agency. The committee and NC DEQ would be required to produce a report by next October on meeting the new goals. RGGI officials have previously said they have spoken to North Carolina about their nine-state carbon market, but there have been no updates about those discussions. (The Charlotte Observer)
When you can’t beat ’em – The top US coal miners union has put a larger share of its campaign donations behind Democrats ahead of the Nov. 6 elections than in 2016, Reuters reports, as dimming hopes for a coal industry revival led by President Trump reinforce fears about the safety of worker pensions. The United Mine Workers of America has donated nearly 84% of its money to Democratic candidates and committees in national races, according to a Reuters analysis of campaign finance data. That is a roughly 20-point jump from 2016, when Trump courted coal miners with promises of an industry comeback. The UMWA, pumping more money into races this year, has spent $910,000 of its more than $1 million in total on donations to Democrats and advertising supporting them through mid-October, compared with $250,000 of $395,000 to Democrats through mid-Oct. 2016.
Managers wanted – The UK government is seeking fund managers to raise cash for, and manage, the country’s new Clean Growth Fund. Under its Clean Growth Strategy and in partnership with the private sector, the government announced its ambition to provide the vehicle up to £20 mln to fund early stage investment in low-carbon technologies. The Clean Growth Fund aims to speed up the deployment of innovative clean technologies that reduce GHGs by making direct investments in companies seeking to commercialise promising technologies.
The (bit)coin has a say – Growth in the carbon-intensive bitcoin industry could push global temperatures past the 2C threshold in the next 15 years, according to new research from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The authors said that if bitcoin is adopted at a rate even close to the slowest pace of major technologies like cars, credit cards, or air conditioning, the industry could double the magnitude of current climate-related disasters. A possible solution to reduce emissions is by slowing down the bitcoin mining process by accumulating more transactions per block (the file where data is stored). Yet by doing so, this would reduce the speed and efficiency that has made the technology so successful. However, other experts pointed out some flaws in the study, with one scientist calling the methodology a “very unlikely scenario” where the electricity demand of bitcoin transactions and CO2 emissions from that demand remain static over the next century. Others said the authors ignored the rapid rise of renewable energy worldwide and failed to account for the possible migration of bitcoin mining between countries with a more fossil fuel-heavy electricity base and those with cleaner power sources (Business Insider, Climate Nexus, Axios)
Ocean commotion – Spraying aerosols high in the stratosphere – a type of “solar geoengineering” to tackle global warming by reflecting sunlight back into space – could dampen global warming over land, but the technique may not prevent the oceans from heating up, according to new research. The technique, known as “stratospheric aerosol injection”, could cool the planet in a way similar to a large volcanic eruption. Previous computer simulations suggest the method could keep global temperatures below 1.5C and prevent rainfall from becoming irregular. However, the author of a new study published in Nature Geoscience told Carbon Brief that a similar cap on warming in the deep ocean might not occur under the strategy. As the aerosol causes rainfall to decrease in some regions, it could influence ocean circulation patterns like those in the North Atlantic, bringing warmer water from the equator further north.
And finally… Stairway to heaven – Recent warming is causing an “escalator to extinction” for birds in the Andes, according to a new study. Research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said that while bird species living on mountains can shift to higher elevations as temperatures warm, those that live only near mountaintops may run out of room. The authors found that high-elevation species on a remote Peruvian mountain have declined in both size and abundance, with several previously common species disappearing. (Carbon Brief)
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