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The final California-Quebec current vintage auction of 2018 settled at a discount to the future sale for the first time in the carbon market’s history, according to results released Wednesday.
South Africa’s finance minister on Tuesday introduced the government’s long-awaited carbon tax bill in the National Assembly, a week after the Treasury released updated offset regulations.
EU carbon prices climbed above €20 on Wednesday for the first time in over a week, as a stronger auction encouraged speculative bulls while coal prices rebounded from a seven-month low.
Italian utility Enel is increasing its investments in renewables at the expense of thermal generation, en route to it becoming emission-free by 2050 as it sets new strategic goals out to 2021, the company said Wednesday.
Oil major Chevron earlier this year received a compliance waiver under the US Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for one of its facilities, a media report said on Tuesday, as stakeholders await the EPA’s finalisation of the programme’s 2019 blending mandate next week.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved a Zero Emission Credit (ZEC) programme and application process for nuclear plants this week, potentially shoring up a low-carbon energy source as the state prepares to join RGGI in 2020.
Australia’s opposition Labor party, favourites to win next year’s election, will reintroduce the ruling Coalition’s proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) if it wins office, but with a stricter emission reduction target for the electricity sector.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Sounds familiar – Brazil, India, South Africa, and China – known as the BASIC group in UN climate talks – have held their annual pre-COP meeting in India. Afterwards, officials from the four governments told media that developed countries would have to step up their climate finance and technology transfer in line with their pledges before they could expect poorer nations to consider increasing their ambition levels, according to the DNA news agency. The finance issue in particular is something the BASIC group will assert “in a big way” in Katowice next month, said Harsh Vardhan, India’s environment minister.
“At least” we’ve done it – The Marshall Islands submitted updated climate targets to the UN this week, making it the first country to do so ahead of December’s COP24 summit in Poland and sending a signal to other countries to commit to more ambitious emissions cuts. According to Reuters, the atoll nation pledged to reduce its GHGs by at least 32% by 2025 compared to 2010 levels, and by at least 45% by 2030. The only difference between these updated targets and those in the Marshall Islands’ pre-Paris INDC appeared to be the addition of the words “at least”, which suggest the country will aim for further reductions. The government also released a third, indicative target to cut emissions by at least 58% by 2035, putting the country on track to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by mid-century. The Marshall Islands has also committed to producing a national plan with steps to adapt to climate change impacts by the end of 2019.
Difference of opinion – The Polish energy ministry issued a statement on Monday defending the country’s heavy reliance on coal, which was rebuffed by a spokesperson for the COP24 presidency in the environment ministry. In the statement, energy minster Krzysztof Tchorzewski declared his opposition to raising EU ambition on climate change, arguing that would harm the Polish economy. However, the envmin spokesperson said that Tchorzewski’s statement does not represent the official Polish position at the talks. (Climate Home)
Coming to Australia – A much-discussed carbon tax-and-dividend system backed by some senior Republican figures has failed to make much headway in US politics, but that’s not stopping researchers at the University of New South Wales from proposing a similar model for Australia, where climate policies have been notoriously difficult to get through. In a report released Wednesday and profiled on academic website the Conversation, the researchers outlined an A$50/tonne CO2 tax with proceeds returned to people at a rate of A$1,300 per year per adult.
Six ways to shut-day – France could shut down up to six nuclear reactors by 2028 among other options, French media reported, as part of its medium-term energy policy to be presented next week. The so-called PPE energy plan will lay out France’s energy goals over the next 10 years with the aim of reducing the share of nuclear power in its energy mix to 50% from 75% by 2035, curb carbon emissions, and boost renewables. The nuke closures could include France’s oldest Fessenheim plant, which is scheduled to stop production in 2021, according to one scenario. It said another six reactors could close by 2035, which could set France on the path to curb nuclear generation by 50%. The second intermediate scenario does not foresee any additional closures beside Fessenheim until 2028, and then 12 reactors would be shut between 2028 and 2035. The final option would also see no additional closures until 2028, after which only nine reactors would be halted by 2035, which could miss the 50% nuclear target. (Reuters)
More than meets the eye – California saw total emission reductions of 5.2 mln in 2017 across capped and non-capped sectors, the ARB announced Wednesday. Entities not regulated in the cap-and-trade programme accounted for 1.7 mln of those reductions, while scheme participants cut 3.5 mln tonnes. Most of those reductions came from the power sector, which saw less carbon-intensive imports due to increased hydroelectric power. The sector also benefited from out-of-state coal divestments. Read our take on the emissions data.
Big building bill – A New York City official plans to introduce legislation next week that would cut emissions from big buildings by 40% by 2030 under the supervision of a new Office of Building Energy Performance supported by a 27-member advisory board. If passed, the legislation, announced by New York City Councilman and Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection Costa Constantinides, would require all buildings over 25,000 square feet (2,300 sq. metres) to take additional steps to reduce emissions. Constantinides noted that while structures large enough to be affected by the legislation are relatively rare in the city, they generate nearly one-third of emissions from buildings. (Climate Nexus)
You might be a denier if… – Youth climate activists flooded US congressional district offices around the country Tuesday, demanding House Democrats embrace Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s push for a select committee empowered to write bold legislation to rapidly decarbonise the electric grid. “If you are presenting 20-year proposals to get us to 50 percent carbon emissions, you are a climate change denier,” Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, tweeted, illustrating the scale of the ambition. According to Politico, the calls appeared to have immediate effects even if some lawmakers stopped short of outright endorsing Ocasio-Cortez’s committee. Meanwhile, House Democrats are demanding records from the Trump administration’s rollbacks of numerous climate change policies at the EPA, The Hill reports. The letter is “likely an opening salvo” to more extensive investigations planned by the Democrats once they take over the majority in the lower chamber. (Carbon Brief)
Beyond combustion – British Columbia’s premier said on Tuesday his government will introduce legislation next year that will require all new light-duty cars and trucks sold in the province by 2040 to be electric or zero-emission vehicles. John Horgan said the government will phase in the sales targets, which apply only to new vehicles. They will start at 10% by 2025, rising to 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2040. To support the plan, BC will expand its fast-charging network and spend an additional C$20 million ($15 mln) this year on incentives for consumers who buy electric vehicles. (Reuters)
Out of pocket – Ontario’s indigenous communities have invested in hundreds of green energy initiatives and they say they’ve lost millions in potential revenues thanks to the provincial government’s decision to cancel those programmes and shut down cap-and-trade. According to TVO, First Nations had been participating in 216 of the 752 green-energy projects that the Progressive Conservative government scrapped after taking office this summer. In one example, Curve Lake First Nation in 2015 agreed to invest a 10% equity stake, valued at a total of C$4.8 mln, in a pair of hydroelectric projects that together would have generated enough power for 2,000 households. The community expected to reap millions of dollars of revenue from the deal with Peterborough Utilities, a non-profit power generator. But when the new PC government came to power, it cancelled the dams. While Curve Lake hadn’t put any money down yet because the dams were at an early planning stage, other organisations are understood to have invested funds in various initiatives.
Rascally radicals – US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said that “radical” environmentalists that have blocked efforts to clear forests of dead and dying trees have fuelled the most recent California conflagrations. During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Zinke called out “the radical environmental groups that would rather burn down the entire forest than cut a single tree or thin the forest”. While Zinke said that he didn’t “want to finger point” and cited other factors contributing to the blazes, he maintained that special interest groups have pushed an agenda favouring pristine forests that has led to the current infernos. Experts say that while forest management can help mitigate some wildfire risk, it isn’t a panacea. The death toll in the northern California Camp Fire is now up to 79, with hundreds more still missing. (Bloomberg)
And finally… Time WAS running out – The warning is clear and dire – and the source unexpected. “This report unquestionably will fan emotions, raise fears, and bring demand for action,” the president of the American Petroleum Institute (API) told an oil industry conference, as he described research into climate change caused by fossil fuels. “The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world’s peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out.” The speaker wasn’t Mike Sommers, who was named to helm API this past May. Nor was it Jack Gerard, who served as API’s president for roughly a decade starting in 2008. The API president speaking those words was named Frank Ikard, and the year was 1965 – over a half-century ago. Read more from DeSmog Blog.
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