CP Daily: Wednesday November 28, 2018

Published 22:46 on November 28, 2018  /  Last updated at 22:51 on November 28, 2018  /  Newsletter  /  No Comments

A daily summary of our news plus bite-sized updates from around the world.

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TOP STORY

Brussels outlines “realistic” strategy for EU to reach net zero emissions in 2050

The European Commission adopted an updated climate strategy on Wednesday, outlining a “realistic” pathway to net zero emissions by 2050 without the use of international credits despite a massive projected rise in EU ETS prices.

EMEA

EU Market: EUAs plunge below €19 after UK auction clears at record discount

EU carbon prices briefly tumbled below €19 on Wednesday after a bumper UK auction cleared at a record discount, but some traders said there may be more to the bearish result than weak demand.

UK aims for first large CO2 capture and use plant by mid-2020s

The UK aims to get its first big carbon capture, storage and use (CCSU) facility operational in the mid-2020s, but the government was coy on how the facility would be funded.

AMERICAS

Surplus weighed on WCI current vintage auction, traders say

Compliance entities and speculators took a less aggressive bidding approach to the November WCI current vintage auction because of the market’s growing allowance surplus and limited ability or desire to hold that length, numerous traders told Carbon Pulse.

California mints over 14 mln CCO-3s as regular offset issuances slow

One of the largest projects in California’s offset programme saw its invalidation period shrink to three years as California and Quebec issued a total of 338,000 new offsets this week, according to state data.

RINs bounce on news of RFS waiver review

US biofuels credits under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) received a boost on Tuesday after a media report said the Trump administration was temporarily halting the issuance of compliance waivers for an agency review.

ASIA PACIFIC

LNG offset obligations could drive big carbon market in Western Australia

Should the state government in Western Australia decide to reinstate obligations for the LNG industry to offset its greenhouse gas emissions, that could drive demand for 15-60 million carbon credits each year, a report said Wednesday.

ICYM

UPDATE – US House reps introduce revenue-neutral $15/tonne carbon tax

A bipartisan group of US House representatives introduced a $15/tonne carbon fee and dividend bill on Tuesday that could signal the onset of increased climate policy efforts in next year’s Congress.

*Updates story from Tuesday’s CPD with more information from bill text*

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Saved by the bill – A California Assembly member is planning to introduce a bill next month that would shield investor-owned utilities (IOUs) against liabilities tied to wildfires, according to Utility Drive. Assemblyman Chris Holden plans to introduce a bill that would extend Senate Bill 901 (SB-901) to the 2018 fire season. SB-901 allowed IOUs to file with the CPUC to recover costs related to 2017 wildfires, and they also established a new standard for determining “just and reasonable” costs. Those revisions, however, did not apply to the 2018 fires, and as a result, it left utilities exposed to potential fire-related costs. Pacific Gas & Electric filed two reports with the state about issues near two potential ignition points, and those claims caused the utility’s share price to sink, sparking concerns about bankruptcy. If Holden’s proposal is passed, it would provide some support for PG&E if it is found to be liable for the fires.

Keep looking – Brazil has abandoned plans to host next year’s UN climate talks amid growing signs of the anti-internationalism of the new government being formed by president-elect Jair Bolsonaro. The foreign ministry announced the reversal in a message to UN climate boss Patricia Espinosa, according to the O Globo news website. Brazil said it was withdrawing its offer due to the transition in government and budget restrictions. It throws the venue and leadership of next year’s COP, usually held in November or December, into doubt. Under the regional rotation, it is the Latin America and the Caribbean area’s turn to host. It’s not clear whether any other countries in the region are ready and willing to take over the responsibility at such short notice.  Carbon Pulse understands that a Caribbean nation may offer to host the event, either at home or at the UN’s climate headquarters in Bonn – where last year’s Fiji-hosted COP was held. (The Guardian, Climate Home)

Intervention apprehension – Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Wednesday indicated that the Trump administration could seek to shape the next federal climate assessment, after accusing the Obama administration of titling last week’s report to focus on the worst case outcomes. During an event hosted by The Washington Post, Wheeler said that while he didn’t know it for a fact, he wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama had told the report’s authors to look at the worst case scenario for the report. That accusation was flatly denied by Obama’s science advisor John Holdren, who told Politico that Wheeler’s insinuation was “absolutely false,” and that he only called on the US Global Change Research Program to conduct a thorough study. Holdren added he had no role in selecting the reports authors. Scientists who participated in the report have also rebutted claims from members of the Trump administration, instead arguing they modelled a wide-range of scenarios in the study. Separately, Wheeler expressed disappointment that the report ignored “innovation” and assumed technologies would not advance in the future.

Nomination aggravation – The US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 13-10 on Tuesday to advance the nomination of controversial Department of Energy official Bernard McNamee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This comes after the release of a video last week showing McNamee criticising renewable energy and portraying environmental groups as tyrannical. Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R) noted that while the nominee’s comments were “unfortunate,” they were not disqualifying, adding that she thinks McNamee understands FERC is an independent agency. However, Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D) hit back at that claim, noting that Murkowski and other Republicans helped sink President Obama’s nomination of Colorado utility regulator Ronald Binz to be chairman in 2013 over concerns he may have a bias toward renewable energy. McNamee could be approved by the full Senate as early as December, which would give the GOP a 3-2 majority on the FERC board. (Utility Dive)

Need for carbon-free speed – US Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley and Sheldon Whitehouse introduced legislation that would set a Federal Zero-Emissions Vehicle Standard to boost the market for battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The standard would require that 50% of all new passenger vehicles sold in 2030 are ZEVs, increasing by 5% each until hitting 100% in 2040. Like the existing state ZEV standards set by California and 12 other states, the Federal ZEV standard would include a crediting system where each ZEVs would receive one credit per vehicle, with partial credits awarded to plug-in hybrids, regular hybrids, and other fuel efficient cars. (Portland Tribune)

WAtopsy – Washington state’s failed $15 carbon tax initiative, I-1631 (see Carbon Pulse’s article), performed better than 2016’s revenue-neutral I-732, but tellingly did not secure enough of the electoral support won by Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell. Writing at Crosscut, three researchers from the University of Washington noted that while Cantwell secured 59% of the statewide vote, I-1631 only got 43%. Roughly one-in-four Cantwell voters did not support the carbon tax, a vote gap that can be observed in every single Washington county. With voters having rejected two carbon tax ballot initiatives in three years, the authors suggested that cap-and-trade may fare better as it does not have an explicit tax implication.

And finally… Turkey Trot, meet Greenhouse Gas Gobble – New species of deep-sea microbes discovered by scientists have been found to “gobble” greenhouse gases. In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists found 22 new species of microbes 2,000 metres below sea level in the Gulf of California’s Guaymas Basin. According to researchers, these organisms are so different from previously studied microbes that “they represent new branches in the tree of life,” with the study noting that they possess “pollutant-eating powers.” By eating hydrocarbon gases like methane and propane, the microbes prevent GHGs from being released, and the scientists expressed optimism that this discovery was just the tip of the iceberg. (The Sun)

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