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European carbon prices continued their downward march on Thursday, falling by 6% to hit a new two-month low and officially enter bear market territory.
The Canadian federal government may impose its CO2 pricing scheme on recalcitrant provinces because the country’s GHG emissions are not only a matter of national concern, but Canada is well off track towards meeting its targets under international treaties, Ottawa and its supporters argued in the second and final day of a court hearing on Thursday.
RGGI should push New Jersey regulators to adopt a more stringent 2020 cap to prevent the state from watering down the effectiveness of the northeast US carbon market, according to public comments.
RGGI prices fell by double digits this week as traders took a more bearish near-term view, while California CCA prices continued to stagnate ahead of the WCI market’s auction next week.
South Korean carbon permits traded up to their highest prices since last June on Thursday on the back of a strong auction that cleared almost 6% above the secondary market.
The EU’s highest court has ruled that Brussels wrongly included emissions captured from Belgium chemical firm Solvay’s German unit under the scope of the EU ETS, potentially setting a precedent for other facilities using captured waste gases.
A London-based senior power trader has left the trading arm of French utility EDF to join US investment bank Citi, Carbon Pulse has learned.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Growth inevitable – Unprecedented growth in renewables won’t be enough to meet the Paris Agreement’s 2C temperature growth limit, oil major BP said in its influential 2019 Energy Outlook. Under BP’s base-case scenario, global energy demand will increase by around one third by 2040, driven by rapidly expanding middle classes in Asia. This will see CO2 emissions grow by 10% by 2040, much faster than in the past. (Reuters)
Bang for buck? – Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund might end up using public climate funds to pay a major coal plant to help extend it lifetime for two more decades, the Guardian reports. Sunset Power International last August registered a turbine upgrade project at its Vales Point plant with the ERF, which would allow it to bid for government funds at ERF auctions. The company says the project would cut CO2 emissions 900,000 tonnes over the 2020s.
Follow our instructions! – Germany’s coal phaseout should follow the Coal Exit Commission’s final report as closely as possible, according to the commission’s co-chair Barbara Praetorius. “This is a carefully drafted and balanced document that has to be implemented exactly as it is set out, otherwise it won’t work,” she said at an energy industry event in Berlin. Praetorius, former deputy head of energy policy think tank Agora Energiewende, described the proposal as “a script for effective climate action and modernisation of the economy” by which Germany would fulfil its climate commitments. The proposal includes review stages throughout the coming decade, which Praetorius said were important to ensure the project went through despite the “enormous” change it would entail. She stressed that supply security had “always been a priority” for the commission, but said it would not be prudent to make firm decisions on how it was to be guaranteed as that could rule out innovations made in the coming years. Lawmakers from the governing CDU/CSU parties said the government is in the process of examining the commission’s recommendations and will present its first proposals to Parliament this spring. An official from the junior coalition partner SPD said that a whole range of German energy laws have to be amended to implement the coal exit, including the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) and grid planning laws. A reform of the energy taxes and levies system will also be necessary, he said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.” Meanwhile, the right-wing populist AfD party is demanding the government reject the recommendations of the commission, and focus instead on saving jobs in the coal industry. It also said it still wants the tens of billions in financial support for structurally weak regions that was proposed by the commission. (Clean Energy Wire)
Biomass question – The UK government has got it very wrong on biomass subsidies and its mistakes should be seen as a cautionary tale to policymakers around the world such as Japan and Korea, according to an opinion piece by former BP geologist Jo Alexander in response to media coverage of utility Drax’s testing of the world’s first negative emissions power plant. Flagging her in-depth investigation, she argues that EU and UK subsidies that were intended to decarbonise the UK’s power sector have actually damaged forests and the climate. (DeSmog UK)
Oil’s climate curbs – Global efforts to fight a “crisis” of man-made climate change could spell a faster than expected end to Norway’s oil and gas industry, the nation’s central bank governor Oeystein Olsen said. He added that the industry will still derive significant income from hydrocarbons in coming years but declined to predict a timeline for any future decline. (Reuters)
Olive branch – US House Energy and Commerce ranking member Greg Walden (R) and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee ranking member John Shimkus (R) have reached out on climate change in a letter to Chairman Frank Pallone (D) and subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D), Politico reports. The pair lays out their criticism of the Green New Deal resolution, but write that they are “ready to begin” the process of working together to find climate solutions. “[W]e urge you to avoid entertaining or resurrecting policies that have been shown to be costly and harmful to consumer and worker interests and focus instead on bipartisan policies that lay a path of progress towards cleaner energy while ensuring the expansion of economic prosperity and opportunities for American workers,” they write. The letter follows an op-ed from E&C Republicans that argues technological innovation, including nuclear and CCS, is the key to fighting climate change. Despite the resolution being put a vote in the Senate, where it is very unlikely to pass, Walden said he will ask Pallone to hold hearings on the legislation. Meanwhile, youth climate activists the Sunrise Movement are planning to pressure senators from both parties next week to back the resolution when it comes up for a vote in two weeks, and will descend on Feb. 25 for direct action in Washington. “We’re here to say: He straight up picked the wrong movement to mess with,” the group’s organisers said, according to Politico.
My kind of town – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel on Thursday announced the City of Big Shoulders would aim for its buildings to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2035. The plan, accompanying the release of the Midwest metropolis’ “Resilient Chicago” roadmap, would also see the Windy City move to a 100% electric public bus fleet by 2040. Emmanuel will introduce a resolution to the city council in March to formally adopt the goals, as well as partner with the Ready for 100 Chicago Collective and other community and industry partners to develop a plan by Dec. 2020 to meet the 100% renewable energy target.
New combo – Oregon utility Portland General Electric (PGE) is planning to develop a first-of-its-kind renewable energy facility that would combine utility-scale wind, solar, and energy storage. The project, known as the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility, will combine 300 MW of wind generation, 50 MW of solar, and 30 MW of battery storage, and will able to supply roughly 50% of its customers’ electricity needs with emissions-free generation. PGE will develop and jointly own the project with NextEra Energy Resources, which will sell its portion of the wind generation to the utility. The company would also be a regulated entity in Oregon’s potential cap-and-trade programme. (Utility Dive)
And finally… Sound off – US Major League Soccer team Seattle Sounders will go carbon neutral in 2019, becoming the first MLS club to do so, the team announced Thursday. For the GHG sources the club is unable to eliminate, it will offset them via the Evergreen Carbon Capture Initiative, run by local sustainability non-profit Forterra.
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