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Washington state’s second attempt at letting voters decide on implementing the first state-led carbon tax in the US appeared destined for failure on Tuesday evening, marking the latest setback in the Evergreen state’s ongoing struggle to put a price on carbon.
California voters elected Democrat Gavin Newsom as their next governor, while Democrats were on track to flip one of the eight gubernatorial races in the RGGI area during Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Oregon regulators should consider ending complementary GHG reduction policies if the state wants to promote a cost-effective and environmentally-sound cap-and-trade programme in the future, according to a new study from a Harvard professor and an economic consultant.
EU carbon continued to recover from late October’s collapse on Tuesday, with a strong auction result helping prices bust through several more technical levels to reach a six-day high near €18.
Companies regulated by Europe’s carbon market exchanged roughly twice as many Kyoto credits for compliance-eligible EU Allowances over the last six months as they did during the same period in 2017.
Three Mongolian carbon offset projects have been issued credits under Japan’s Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM), nearly doubling the amount of credits generated so far, although the Japanese government retained the majority of them.
Despite the scientific evidence, there are still nations that are either not convinced of the need to reduce emissions, or are unwilling to do so. But real demand for change is growing at ground level. Consumers around the world are paying greater attention to the environment and the climate, and making changes to their own lifestyles. They are also starting to ask uncomfortable questions of the businesses that supply them.
Designing Climate Solutions: A Policy Guide for Low-Carbon Energy combines the latest research and analysis on low-carbon energy solutions from electric vehicles to renewable energy. It is the first book to identify which specific policies, applied to the top 20 most-emitting countries, can have the largest potential impact to reduce emissions enough for a 50% chance of keeping global warming to a safe level.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Those pesky kids – The Trump administration is yet again attempting to stop a youth-led climate lawsuit from beginning even after the US Supreme Court lifted a temporary stay on the case Friday. The Department of Justice filed a new set of appeals with the US District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday to halt the case, which alleges that the nation’s pro-fossil fuel energy agenda contributes to dangerous climate change and violates the 21 young plaintiffs’ constitutional rights. Meanwhile, District Court Judge Ann Aiken is expected to set a new trial date by Thursday when a status conference is scheduled to take place. (Climate Liability News)
Battery boom-boom – The battery boom is coming to China, California and basically everywhere else, and it will be even bigger than previously thought. The global energy-storage market will surge to a cumulative 942 GW by 2040, according to a new forecast from Bloomberg NEF published Tuesday, and that growth will necessitate $1.2 trillion in investment. Sharply falling battery costs is a key driver of the boom. BNEF sees the capital cost of a utility-scale lithium-ion storage system falling another 52% by 2030. But cost isn’t the only factor. Governments from China to California are spurring demand, as is the rise of electric vehicles and solar power. There’s also been a greater focus on storage for electric-vehicle charging as well as energy access in remote areas.
Stick to the plan – The German government will stick to its plan to introduce a climate protection law in 2019 despite major internal difficulties within the coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance and the Social Democrats. A first draft of the law will still be compiled in 2018, a spokesman of Germany’s environment ministry told the Clean Energy Wire. The government cabinet plans to develop the law that aims to make sectoral emissions targets in line with the Paris Climate Agreement binding “before Easter”, the spokesman added. Think-tank Agora Energiewende said the roadmap for the law largely corresponds with the government’s plan outlined in the coalition treaty, but the government may not have the strength to implement it. German environment minister Svenja Schulze had said all ministries must come up with a plan to help achieve the country’s 2030 climate goals and that she would “no longer accept inadequate measures that clearly undermine the targets.”
Not so unthinkable – The capacity of renewable energy has overtaken that of fossil fuels in the UK for the first time, a milestone that experts said would have been unthinkable a few years ago. In the past five years, the amount of renewable capacity has tripled while fossil fuels’ has fallen by a third, as power stations reached the end of their life or became uneconomic. The result is that between July and September, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 GW, exceeding the 41.2 GW capacity of coal, gas, and oil-fired power plants. (Guardian)
Til we unfreeze again – German utility RWE has frozen development of its Tilbury Energy Centre in Britain, which included plans for a 2.5GW gas plant, Reuters reports. “This decision was based on current market conditions and project costs,” RWE said on its website. Britain needs to invest in new capacity to replace ageing coal and nuclear plants that are due to close in the 2020s, but new large facilities have struggled to get off the ground because of high costs and weak electricity prices. RWE also had onsite plans for a 100MW energy storage facility and a 300MW peaking gas plant designed to run during times of high demand.
Concrete progress – Lithuanian scientists from the Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) are in the process of developing methods to produce concrete without cement. Using industrial waste, such as flyash, the scientists have found that the final product is as strong as traditional concrete, more resilient to the damaging effects of acid, and more stable when exposed to extreme heat and cold. Portland cement is a basic ingredient of concrete and the most commonly used type of cement around the world. However, up to 1 tonne of CO2 is released for every metric tonne of portland cement that is produced. In fact, the global cement industry is thought to be responsible for 7% of CO2 emissions each year. KTU researchers are aiming to reduce the concrete industry’s negative impact on the environment and are investigating methods for substituting portland cement with different materials. (World Cement)
Not quite driven – Some of the climate benefits of electric vehicles (EVs) may be undercut by the fact that they are still being driven, on average, fewer miles annually than gasoline-powered cars, according to a new working paper. Using data from the US Transportation Department’s National Hosuehold Travel Survey, The University of California-Berkeley’s Lucas Davis wrote electric vehicles are being driven on average for 10,100 kilometres annually, plug-in hybrids for 12,600 km, and gasoline-powered cars for 16,400 km. Davis said the “surprising” results were apparent for earlier generation EVs, as well as for families in multi-car households that left the EV at home on heavy driving days. He added the data makes the case for higher gasoline taxes to incentivise EV adoption for all drivers, especially those that travel long distances. (Axios)
And finally… Oh the irony – The impacts of climate change may dampen voter turnout in today’s US midterms, with residents of the conservative-leaning Florida Panhandle saying they are too busy recovering from the impacts of last month’s Hurricane Michael to vote. Florida’s GOP leaders are also worried about the impact the climate change will have on the state’s tight races, with more young voters saying it is their top concern this year following devastating hurricanes and toxic algae bloom. “I want to see a future where laws are made based on science and equality, and not on what some rich guy thinks,” a young voter told NPR. (Climate Nexus)
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