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Maine is holding internal discussions about whether the state should reverse its opposition to the northeast US RGGI market’s supply-curbing Emissions Containment Reserve (ECR) in the next decade, after Democrats won the state’s gubernatorial election in November.
EUAs dropped by more than a euro to near €22 on Friday as a weak auction, profit-taking, and heavy losses in key energy contracts weighed, capping a turbulent week.
British utility SSE’s EU ETS-covered thermal generation dropped 12% over the nine months to Dec. 2018, curbing demand for carbon allowances despite poor conditions for renewables, the company said Friday.
Environmental justice groups have urged Oregon legislators to curtail the use of free allowances and offsets in the state’s proposed cap-and-trade programme, while natural gas utilities are advocating for greater allocations in line with their electric counterparts.
California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) prices inched closer to the $200 mark on Friday, nearing record levels hit in late December as concerns about the bankruptcy of utility PG&E subside.
After a flying start to the year, offset issuance by Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator this week fell back considerably to below 50,000.
On the last day of January, Oregon lawmakers introduced their highly-anticipated cap-and-trade bill, sending a loud and clear message that climate change is a top priority this coming session. Massachusetts-based think-tank Climate Xchange breaks down the legislation and offers an analysis of the proposal.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Climate says no – An Australian court has blocked the development of a new coal mine, partly because greenlighting the project would increase global greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to climate change, the Guardian reports. Chief Judge Brian Preston ruled that Gloucester Resources’ planned mine in New South Wales “would be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” because the world is now in dire need to see emissions go down, not up. The visual and social impacts on the local community also contributed to the ruling.
Canter or not to canter – A report released early Friday morning saying Australia would meet its Paris target five years early because of the rapid deployment of new renewable energy raised eyebrows, and sparked the government to issue a press release saying its climate policies are fine. The report drew criticism from experts who argued the report was based on highly uncertain assumptions on the development of the power market. ANU professor Frank Jotzo promptly wrote an op-ed for Renew Economy highlighting the uncertainties and why it’s not a given that Australia will meet its target “in a canter”, or without much effort.
Neutralité – The French government has proposed legislation committing the country to carbon neutrality by 2050, Climate Home reports. A proposal was sent to the economic, social and environmental council on Feb. 7. A copy was published by environment news site Reporterre. If the bill is adopted, France would:
- Drop its 2050 goal of lowering GHGs to 25% of 1990 levels, in favour of a target of carbon neutrality by 2050
- Postpone a goal to reduce the share of nuclear power from 75% today to 50%, from 2025 to 2035
- Walk back a commitment to reduce national energy consumption. The target of cutting energy consumption by 20% by 2030 is replaced with 17%. The final goal of slashing energy use by 50% by 2050 remains untouched
- Hike a target to reduce the proportion of energy powered by fossil fuels by 30% by 2030 to 40%
Agitation averted – US oil major Chevron has vowed to cut GHG emissions in alignment with the Paris Agreement, potentially averting a shareholder rebellion at its annual general meeting. It pledged to reduce its carbon intensity by 25-30% by 2023, with that target applying across the company’s global portfolio including assets in which it owns stakes but is not the lead operator. The metric will also be a factor in determining employee bonuses, Chevron said in a report published Thursday. While the reduction targets won’t apply to emissions created by consumers using Chevron products, a key demand from environmentalists and activist investors, the move is a significant policy shift for Chevron, Bloomberg reports.
Ask me later – French President Emmanuel Macron said his country will decide around 2022 whether state-owned utility EDF will be allowed to build new nuclear reactors. In November, Macron said France would reduce the share of nuclear in the power mix to 50% by 2035, down from 75% today, and said that a decision on whether to build new nuclear plants would be taken mid-2021. Because of repeated delays and budget overruns of EDF’s EPR reactor model under construction in Flamanville, northern France, Macron’s government has not yet committed to building new reactors once old reactors close.
The lone ranger – A group of 59 US representatives introduced a resolution on Friday in the federal government’s lower chamber that reaffirms the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and recommends not leaving the landmark accord. Of the congresspersons that backed the resolution, only one, Representative Brian Fitz, is a Republican. The bill’s primary sponsor, Representative Jared Huffman, was named to the new House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on Thursday.
Transition time – A New Mexico state senator on Thursday introduced legislation to ensure the shuttering of the state’s coal-burning San Juan Generating station and raise the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) targets. The Energy Transition Act, sponsored by Senator Jacob Candelaria (D), would see New Mexican investor-owned utilities and rural co-ops derive 50% of their energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 80% by 2045. It would also allow the Public Service Company of New Mexico, the owner of the San Juan station, to recover its investments through selling bonds paid off through a new “energy transition” charge for customers. The legislation has the support of several environmental groups and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who called for more ambition in the state’s clean energy development in an executive order last month. (Santa Fe New Mexican)
Charging up – California-based low-carbon fuel retailer Propel Fuels will launch an electric vehicle charging network across the state later this year. The roll-out of its “Propel Power” network will launch by Q4 2019, with broader deployment targeted for 2020. The company is currently involved in the RFP and technical evaluation process on the design of the programme. California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credits from on-road electricity usage reached a new high in Q3 2018, according to data released by state regulator ARB last week.
Care in the air – Taiwan-based China Airlines has partnered with ClimateCare to offer a carbon calculator on its booking website and enable customers to offset their carbon footprint, GreenAir Online reports. China Airlines’ Eco Travel programme allows passengers to use a calculator powered by Carbon Analytics to work out the carbon emissions from their flights and the cost to offset them through ClimateCare. The current price to offset one tonne of CO2 is set at $10.35, according to the calculator. A return flight between Taipei and Helsinki, Finland is calculated as costing $12.49. In 2015, the airline became the first carrier in Taiwan to calculate the carbon footprint for each passenger and tonne of freight using actual operational results and parameters in accordance with ICAO and IATA guidelines. China Airlines is also the first in Taiwan to use sustainable aviation fuels since deliveries of new Airbus A350 aircraft were powered by blended SAF on ferry flights from Toulouse.
In memoriam – Former Democratic Representative John Dingell Jr., the longest-serving member of the US Congress, died on Thursday at the age of 92. Dingell warned in 2008 that legislators needed to address climate change, because doing so under the federal Clean Air Act could be a “glorious mess”, adding that “structuring a comprehensive climate change programme is a responsibility for the Congress”. Some eleven years after Obama-era regulatory policies, such as the Clean Power Plan and vehicle fuel economy standards, have been blocked in the courts or rolled back by the Trump administration, his prognostication has proved correct. (Politico)
And finally… Environmental anarchy in the UK – A no-deal Brexit might offer the regulatory vacuum the some die-hard Brexiteers fantasise about, allowing “disaster capitalists” to tear up the UK’s environmental protections, writes columnist George Monbiot for the Guardian. “The public protections people have fought so hard for, that we obtained only through British membership of the … are suddenly at risk.” He says there are safeguards, in theory, but the environment department is “frantically trying to fill the regulatory chasm”, publishing more statutory instruments than any other ministry and drafting a bill that would see a new watchdog hold the government to account. However, the bill won’t likely be passed until autumn at the earliest, and the watchdog won’t materialise before 2021. “During that time there will be no body equivalent to the European Court of Justice to ensure that the government upholds the law. Instead there will be a ‘holding arrangement’ – with an undefined ‘mechanism’ to receive reports of environmental lawbreaking, which the watchdog might be inclined to investigate when it eventually materialises.” Monbiot adds that all this must happen while the government attends to scores of transformations on a similar scale. “If the shops run out of food, hospitals can’t get medicine and the Good Friday agreement falls apart, how much attention will it pay to breaches of environmental law?”
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