CP Daily: Thursday January 24, 2019

Published 23:23 on January 24, 2019  /  Last updated at 23:23 on January 24, 2019  / Ben Garside /  Newsletters

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

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Russia lays slow-acting plans to regulate GHGs through emissions trade

Russia is considering a bill that would establish a cap-and-trade system for major carbon emitters by 2025 and require companies to report their emissions.


World Bank cuts carbon credit eligibility ahead of N2O auction

The World Bank’s Nitric Acid Climate Auction Program (NACAP) has shifted forward the eligibility cut-off date for carbon credits that can be sold in its inaugural auction, effectively reducing the pool of potentially available units.


California to develop pathway to 2050 carbon neutrality

California will kick off a series of workshops over the next year and a half to develop a strategy for becoming carbon neutral by mid-century, officials from regulator ARB said Wednesday, with the state still to figure out what role offsetting might play in that target.

US govt shutdown delays approval of next WCI carbon contracts

US federal regulators cannot sign off on California Carbon Allowance (CCA) future vintage contracts because of the ongoing partial government shutdown, sources told Carbon Pulse.

NA Markets: WCI prices rise amid PG&E concerns, while RGGI increases with winter storm

California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices rose slightly this week amid the ongoing turmoil with utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), while RGGI allowances (RGAs) also saw minor increases on thin volume as a large winter storm bore down on the northeast US.


China air pollution permit trade worth $2.8 bln but national launch far off

China’s air pollution permit trade across almost 30 pilot schemes has hit an aggregate value of 19 billion yuan ($2.8 billion), but most of the markets face substantial challenges and a nationwide programme is not on the horizon, according to the country’s finance ministry.


EU Market: EUAs post second day of losses despite strong auction

European carbon prices sank for a second day on Thursday despite the most bullish auction result of the year to date, as traders said weaker energy and profit-taking weighed on EUAs.


Transitioning to the Canadian federal backstop: Industrial perspectives on carbon pricing

In the run-up to the Carbon Pricing for Canadian Industry conference – April 25-26 at the Hilton Toronto – Canadian Clean Energy conferences is running a series of articles on key topics for industries complying with provincial and federal carbon regulations.



Neutral signal – Germany’s coal commission wants the government to retire a corresponding number of EUAs to avoid the coal phase-out damping the EU ETS carbon price signal, Clean Energy Wire reported, citing a 133-page draft document that retains the provision from earlier drafts in November. Some of the most pressing details of the plan still need to be thrashed out though during a marathon session scheduled for Friday (Jan. 25). The final strategy is then expected to be released on or before Feb. 1.

Perverse coal – Norway’s massive sovereign wealth fund has increased its exposure to coal reserves even after 2015 restrictions on investing companies that get more than 30% of their revenue in the fossil fuel, according to a report by UK non-profit InfluenceMap. From end-2015 to end-2017, the fund’s share of reserves of mining companies that it was invested in rose by 10% because the ban still allows the fund to invest in big diversified producers such as Glencore and BHP. Opposition politicians and environmental groups have called on Norway to close “loopholes” as the government prepares to present a review of the rules this year. (Bloomberg)

Happy retirement – 2019 will see the retirement of nearly 6 GW of coal power in the US, while 49 GW of new power generation capacity will be added to the grid, according to the latest figures from S&P Global Market Intelligence, which is highlighted by CleanTechnica. In a related story, E&E News reports that a group of US utilities and other power producers say they may have to shut down their coal-fired plants if a court rolls back a Trump administration extension to the deadline for closing some coal ash dumps. Their filing to the US Court of Appeals follows a legal challenge brought by environmental groups to the administration’s changes last July to the Obama-era regulations governing coal ash disposal. (Carbon Brief)

Happy future retirements – Separately, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its 2019 Annual Energy Outlook on Thursday, projecting that the share of natural gas and renewables in the US economy will continue growing out to 2050 as coal plants shutter. In the EIA’s reference case, natural gas will increase its share in the energy supply to 39% by mid-century from 34% in 2018, while renewables will experience an even larger percentage gain to 31% from 18%. On the flip side, coal is expected to continue its decade-long decline by shrinking to a 17% in 2050, down from 28% presently, as nuclear also slides to 12% from 19%. The administration also said that 42% of existing coal capacity, or 101 GW, would retire by mid-century.

Same places, new faces – A bipartisan group of US congresspersons on Thursday reintroduced a $15/tonne carbon tax and dividend proposal into the House of Representatives (see Carbon Pulse’s article on the bill’s first introduction here). In addition to three of the five original backers from November, four other Democratic representatives also endorsed the legislation. However, the proposal faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate and Trump White House.

Zoning in on zero – New York Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand penned a letter to the Republican chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday, urging the panel to hold hearings and consider legislation to decarbonise the US economy en route to net-zero emissions by 2050. Gillibrand cited the IPCC special report on 1.5C and US government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment in her rationale, calling for a mix of innovative transportation solutions, climate-smart infrastructure, and high-performance energy efficiency. Separately, the Senate committee scheduled a confirmation vote on Feb. 5 for EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to permanently head the agency.

Small victory – The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on Thursday found that embattled utility PG&E was not found directly responsible for a 2017 fire that killed over 20 people in Sonoma County. The state agency said that the cause of the Tubbs Fire, which devastated the community of Santa Rosa, was caused instead by a “private electrical system”. Although PG&E was not found liable, a source close to the company told Axios the decision would not change its plan to file for bankruptcy next week. A statement from the company said it still faces “significant potential liabilities and a deteriorating financial situation,” as its role in other 2017 and 2018 fires is decided.

Sky’s no limit – Emissions and noise pollution are both increasing because more and more aircraft are taking to the skies, a new report by Europe’s premier aviation and environmental agencies revealed on Thursday, and forecasts show that the trend is only set to continue. Between 2005 and 2017, CO2 emissions increased by 16% and nitrogen oxide emissions went up 25%, according to the second European Aviation Environmental Report (EAER). That is because the number of passenger kilometres has skyrocketed in the same period, increasing by a massive 60%. The report warned that new technologies like supersonic and urban mobility aircraft “need to be carefully integrated into the aviation system” in order to avoid a rollback of environmental progress. Aviation currently accounts for 2-3% of global emissions and according to forecasts, the number of flights will increase by 42% by 2040. CO2 and NOX emissions could increase by at least 21% and 16%, respectively, in the same period. (EurActiv)

Ranking performance – The best performing companies based on a range of climate change measures are also outperforming the stock market, according to research by non-profit CDP, which ranked more than 6,800 companies. The top scoring firms for climate change include Microsoft and Danone, while perfume company Firmenich and cosmetics firm L’Oreal were the only companies to get As across the board for their actions on climate change, deforestation and water security. (The Independent)

Aldi emissions – Germany’s Aldi has announced it is now a carbon neutral business in the UK and Ireland, having pledged to both cut and offset CO2 emissions from its stores and distribution centres across the British Isles. The supermarket chain, which has more than 900 stores and 11 distribution centres across the UK and Ireland, said yesterday it planned to offset the equivalent of 160,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2019, both through its own carbon reduction work and support for offset projects globally. (BusinessGreen)

Sucking less – In a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, researchers found that under a warming climate, rather than absorbing more GHGs plants and soil may start absorbing less, accelerating the rate of change. It is well known among climate researchers that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 increase during dry years, a sign that the earth is absorbing fewer emissions. When the soil is dry, plants are stressed and can’t absorb as much CO2 to perform photosynthesis. At the same time, because dry conditions are often accompanied by warm temperatures, microorganisms in the soil, which are more productive when it’s warm, release more CO2.

Aggregate in Alberta – The Alberta Climate Change Office will host a webinar on Feb. 7 at 930 MST (1630 GMT) to review aggregated project planning and reporting requirements for emission offset projects under the Canadian province’s Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation (CCIR). Registration is available here.

And finally… How hot? Free beers hot, mate! – The South Australian city of Adelaide set a new record high temperature of 46.2C Thursday as the country continued to broil in an extended summer heatwave that’s put pressure on the power grid and fired up climate change concerns. The heat proved expensive for one pub in the city that had promised free beer if the mercury rose above 45C, with punters queuing around the block while play was suspended at the Australian Open tennis tournament to protect the players’ health. (Bloomberg)

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