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Norway’s oil firm Equinor plans to buy REDD forest protection credits to offset its emissions from operations not already covered by carbon pricing as the company is set to ramp up its foreign exploration, its CEO said Tuesday.
New York plans to finalise its regulations to conform to the post-2020 RGGI Model Rule next year, an official told Carbon Pulse.
Two Washington DC legislative committees unanimously endorsed a bill Tuesday that would see the US capital source all of its energy from renewables in the next 15 years, moving it one step closer to a full vote.
European carbon ended higher on Tuesday but off the day’s peak after EUAs saw their rally disrupted by a rout in wider energy and financial markets.
The Guangdong carbon exchange on Tuesday announced another small auction of offsets eligible for use in the provincial emissions trading scheme, with the minimum bid price set at only around half the clearing price of last week’s sale.
ECOSYSTEM MARKETPLACE: Oil palm, the prodigal plant, is coming home to Africa – What does that mean for forests?
Western and Central Africa have been cultivating oil palm for millennia, though the big money is flowing into Indonesia and Malaysia, which produce more than 80% of the world’s palm oil supply. Now Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil companies are expanding into African regions, and environmentalists are worried that could accelerate deforestation.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
So long, Solheim – UN environment chief Erik Solheim resigned Tuesday after a raft of criticism in recent months over excess travel and rule-breaking. Solheim was asked to resign by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, according to The Guardian. It follows a draft internal UN audit leaked to the news agency in September that found Solheim had spent almost $500,000 on air travel and hotels in just 22 months, and he was away from his office 80% of the time. In addition to being accused by a UN staff union leader of “obscene CO2 hypocrisy,” Solheim had failed to account properly for some of his travel and unofficially allowed chosen staff to work from Europe rather than at UNEP headquarters in Kenya. The revelations had led many countries and other donors to withhold funding for the agency until the issues regarding Solheim’s conduct were resolved.
Road clear – Environment ministers from 10 EU states – Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden – have co-signed a joint letter to EU Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete calling for “a clear direction” towards 2050 net zero emissions in Nov. 28’s draft revision to its 2050 low carbon roadmap. (EurActiv)
And the winner is… – At least 80% of the 22.4 GW in generation contracts awarded under Poland’s first capacity auction have gone to coal or lignite, according to environmental campaigners CAN Europe. This includes four new units currently under construction and an additional unit that has been operational for a year now, but is still treated as “new” by Polish legislation in order to be eligible for these subsidies for the next 15 years. Contracts will be set at the “staggering” amount of around €55 kW, a price some five times higher than the one set by recent UK auctions. The plants will receive payments via contracts that will start in 2021 and run for up to 15 years. The Polish capacity market is projected to cost the country’s taxpayers up to €14 billion by 2030 and will lump them with much of the construction costs of the new units, CAN Europe said. “The results of the first auction today confirm that the system is designed to maintain the status quo in the country’s coal-based energy system.”
No coal goal – Slovakia will phase out by 2023 the €100 mln/year subsidies for coal mines supplying Slovenske Elektrarne, a utility co-owned by the state, as well as Italy’s Enel and Czechia’s EPH, Economy Minister Peter Ziga said Monday. The date is sooner than expected, with around 4,000 people directly working at the mines and 11,000 indirectly. (Reuters)
Hungary too – Just to the south, Hungary is also eyeing an end to its coal-fired generation by 2030. Fast rising EU carbon prices have pushed the government into talks with the country’s last big lignite power plant, Matra, about phasing out coal use and installing clean energy, deputy secretary of state for climate at the innovation and technology ministry Barbara Botos told Climate Home. Though Botos said that the “preferred coal exit date” in 2030 was not yet supported by an official strategy or decision, most of the country’s coal and lignite basins have already been closed, with the number of miners down to 2,000 this year from 125,000 in 1965.
Divest the rest – Norway’s $1 trillion wealth fund should sell its 1.36% stake in German power firm RWE because of its climate and pollution impact, according to campaigners Greenpeace, Sandbag, and others. RWE said all its coal-fired power stations fully complied with the emission limits and that it had a plan to cut its emissions. Norway’s fund is mandated to divest from companies that derive more than 30% of their revenues or activities from coal, and has sold shares in some 71 firms since 2015. It has kept investments in companies that have a credible plan to reduce their share of revenues from coal and/or increase revenues from renewables. (Reuters)
Costly carbon – The environmental cost of the emission of one tonne of CO2 is about €180, according to Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA). Economic losses include crop losses, damages to buildings and infrastructure, and impacts on human health, among other things. Its report shows a significant increase over the €80 it calculated in 2014. It added that 1 kWh of lignite-produced electricity causes an average 21 eurocents of environmental damage, meaning the country’s total generation from that fuel source in 2016 caused €31.2 billion in environmental damage. “In comparison, the environmental cost of one kWh of electricity produced with wind energy is only 0.28 eurocents,” the UBA said. (Clean Energy Wire)
In the works – Ireland’s Leo Varadkar has said that increases in the country’s domestic carbon tax will be outlined in Fine Gael’s next election manifesto. It comes as the government faces criticism over its record on lowering emissions and meeting its climate change targets. The cabinet on Tuesday approved Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton’s all-government plan on climate change. That plan made the country a leader in responding to the issue, set out the actions to be taken by every government department and body to meet the Ireland’s commitments, and include a trajectory for increasing carbon taxes.
Going national – Origin Energy, one of Australia’s biggest gentailers (generator-retailers), will take national a demand-side power trial platform that has been successfully running for a year in South Australia, Renew Economy reports. Through the use of smart software, the programme has shifted the timing of delivery for 200 MWh of commercial and industrial load, cutting costs and carbon emissions in the process, Origin said. The software has been developed by UK-based Tempus Energy.
In through CORSIA – The Chinese island province of Hainan could use CORSIA as a means to establish itself as an international trading hub if the global aviation offset market approves Chinese domestic carbon credits – known as CCERs. That’s according to Rock Environment and Energy Institute, a Beijing-based organisation providing research support for NGOs and corporations. The Hainan provincial government said earlier this year it wanted to add carbon credits to internationally-traded products in its recently-approved free trade zone, but so far it lacks any obvious tradable carbon product. CORSIA might provide an opportunity, followed by potential ETS links between China and other Asian nations a bit later into the 2020s, Rock said in an article distributed on Chinese social media.
Tell us how you really feel – Bernard McNamee, President Trump’s nominee for the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, sharply criticised renewable energy and environmental groups while calling for a “unified campaign” to support fossil fuels in a Feb. 2018 speech before Texas lawmakers, a video obtained by Utility Dive shows. McNamee, at the time working for the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), said fossil fuels are “key to our way of life,” but renewable energy “screws up the whole physics of the grid.” He also portrayed industry lawsuits with environmental groups as a “constant battle between liberty and tyranny.” McNamee’s comments come to light as the Senate considers his nomination to FERC. The former Department of Energy official told senators last week he would separate his previous policy work from his regulatory considerations if confirmed, a pledge he reiterated in a statement to Utility Dive.
Pouring cold water – Cold meltwater running off Antarctica’s ice sheets and into the ocean could dampen the pace of global temperature rise, a new study suggests. The research, published in Nature, finds the rate of ice-sheet melt in a high-emissions scenario could see the oceans cooled by the influx of frigid water. This could knock as much as 0.4C off global temperature rise, the researchers say, potentially delaying exceeding the 1.5C and 2C Paris temperature limits by around a decade. (Carbon Brief)
Life after coal – An old coal power station is set to be transformed into a “sustainable village” of 2,000 homes powered by 10 MW in solar panels, in the biggest redevelopment yet of a former UK power plant. French firm Engie said it had decided against selling off the Rugeley site in Staffordshire and would instead build super efficient houses on the 139-hectare site as part of its bid to “move beyond energy.” Half of the energy required by the new homes will come from green sources, predominantly solar, which will be fitted on rooftops, in a field, and floating on a lake. Batteries will be used across the site, both in homes and at a communal power storage facility, to balance out electricity supply and demand. The firm is also claiming the homes will be so efficient they will use nearly a third less energy than average new builds. (The Guardian)
And finally… What’s that smell? – Waste fish parts will be used to power ships in a new initiative to use green energy for polluting cruise liners. The leftovers of fish processed for food and mixed with other organic waste will be used to generate biogas, which will then be liquefied and used in place of fossil fuels by the expedition cruise line Hurtigruten. The company operates a fleet of 17 ships, and by 2021 aims to have converted at least six of its vessels to use biogas, LNG, and large battery packs capable of storing energy produced from renewable sources. (The Guardian)
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