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Wednesday’s South Korean CO2 auction sold out, with the clearing price coming in 2% above the secondary market and reflecting a supply dearth.
A Virginia legislative committee will once again consider a bill to enable the state’s full participation in the northeast US RGGI programme, although the Republican-led legislature is likely to scuttle that effort for a second straight year.
Vermont is unlikely to hits its long-term climate goals under existing policies, but the US state could reach near-term targets with minimal economic impacts by using a variety of carbon pricing and investment initiatives, a study found on Wednesday.
California regulator ARB issued more than 600,000 California Carbon Offsets (CCOs) this week, with the majority coming from the ozone-depleting substance (ODS) protocol for the second consecutive time.
Embattled California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) signed a financing agreement with four banks this week to provide the company with a $5.5 billion lifeline during its pending bankruptcy, according to public documents.
EUAs retreated nearly 2% back below €25 on Wednesday, falling after extending a three-week high as traders grew wary about the bearish impact of Germany’s coal phaseout plan.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Endgame – Germany is planning to protect consumers and manufacturers from the impact of abandoning coal, according to a government body’s draft paper. The coal phase-out commission, which is tasked with organising the exit from coal, said in the 133-page draft seen by Reuters that companies and private households should be spared from big price increases. The commission consisting of politicians, researchers, and lobbyists is expected to adopt the paper on Friday, and it will also decide on the shutdown date for the last coal-fired plant in Germany. According to the draft, fees for the use of electricity grids should be reduced for both industry and private consumers and operators of coal-fired stations should receive compensation for early closure. Meanwhile, shares in RWE, Germany’s largest power producer, rose 5% on the prospect of higher payouts should coal-fired stations be shut earlier than expected. Speaking at the WEF in Davos on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel linked the building of Nord Stream 2 to the fate of her country’s coal industry, saying gas demand would be affected by the panel’s recommendations and therefore could justify completing the controversial Russian pipeline.
Back the tax – Netherlands Green party leader Jesse Klaver is demanding that coalition parties back his legislative proposal for a CO2 tax on companies that could include those in EU ETS sectors in return for his party’s support on other issues. Prime Minister Mark Rutte has already bowed to pressure and said the government’s sector-by-sector climate agreement should not rule out a tax. See Carbon Pulse’s article on how the 233-page draft did not include such a measure. (NL Times)
Working for a resolution – The most prominent US lawmaker backing a “Green New Deal” said she and other supporters have begun working on a non-binding resolution to set out exactly which climate and clean energy policies they would support to combat climate change. New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) said she was working to build up co-sponsors in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, but she added there wasn’t a timeline for the resolution yet. She did note that while a carbon tax could be a part of the approach, CO2 pricing legislation by itself “isn’t going to be called a Green New Deal”. (Bloomberg Environment)
KXL RIP? – The Keystone XL project is facing major deadline pressure. According to Politico, that sense of urgency was conveyed in a Montana legal filing from pipeline-maker TransCanada Corp. this month, asking the court to allow it to immediately resume pre-construction preparatory work while the State Department completes a new court-ordered environmental impact assessment. A two-month delay could mean a lost construction season in 2019 and push the completion to 2021 or later. A new US president could take office during that time, which would mean the project may once again face opposition by the White House. Complicating matters further is the ongoing government shutdown.
Bringing the Illi-Noise – New Illinois Governor JB Prtizker (D) announced his plan Wednesday for the state to join the US Climate Alliance, where governors commit to enact policies that follow the US Paris Agreement pledge of cutting GHGs by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. With the Land of Lincoln’s entry, the alliance now represents 43% of the US population across 17 states and Puerto Rico.
Go to the polls – New US public surveys released on Tuesday showed more Americans are supporting carbon taxes and taking climate change seriously. The first poll, which was conducted by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute and the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found that support for taxing CO2 in the abstract was favoured 44% to 29%. The survey revealed less support for the measure if the tax was coupled with repealing emissions regulations, which are main components of the Climate Leadership Coalition’s $40 carbon fee and dividend approach that major economists backed last week. Some 67% of respondents would also support a CO2 tax if the funds were used to restore the environment, while just under half would endorse if the rebates were given back to households. Separately, another poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found a record 73% of Americans think global warming is occurring, up from 70% last March. Additionally, 72% of respondents said climate change was important to them – up nine percentage points from last year. (Axios, Climate Nexus)
Definitiv target – Finance giant Refinitiv has committed to becoming carbon-neutral by the end of 2020, as part of a new range of sweeping environmental and social sustainability pledges. Formerly known as the Financial & Risk arm of Thomson Reuters, it will source 100% renewable energy for its operations and value chains by 2020 in its bid to achieve carbon neutrality, before purchasing carbon credits to offset its remaining emissions. Refinitiv will then make further investments in low-carbon technologies in order to slash its annual CO2 emissions by 10% each year until 2024, against a 2018 baseline. This will gradually minimise the amount of carbon offsetting it needs to undertake. (edie.net)
Girls against boys – Global warming will have a variety of effects on our planet, yet it may also directly impact our human biology, research suggests. Specifically, climate change could alter the proportion of male and female newborns, with more boys born in places where temperatures rise and fewer boys born in places with other environmental changes, such as drought or wildfire that are caused by global warming. A recent study in Japan found a link between temperature fluctuations and a lower male-to-female sex ratio at birth, with conceptions of boys especially vulnerable to external stress factors, wrote Dr. Misao Fukuda, lead study author and founder of the M&K Health Institute in Hyogo. (CNN)
And finally… Cool yer jets – Attendees to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland this week descended on the meeting in a record number of private jets, despite warnings from the conference that business leaders need to take more serious action to tackle climate change. The number of private jet flights into the WEF is expected to grow to up to 1,500 aircraft, a record for the summit, according to analysts by the Air Charter Service. A director for the service said the 11% surge in private jet flights worldwide last year more generally was attributable not only to the long distances travelled, “but also possibly due to business rivals not wanting to be seen to be outdone by one another”. At the conference, British broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough said “the Garden of Eden is no more”, and urged political and business leaders to make a renewed push to tackle climate change. (The Guardian)
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