CP Daily: Tuesday March 12, 2019

Published 22:49 on March 12, 2019  /  Last updated at 22:49 on March 12, 2019  /  Newsletter  /  No Comments

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

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TOP STORY

Chile seen allowing unlimited offsets for expanded CO2 tax, may add RECs

Chile could allow the unlimited use of domestic offsets as a compliance option under its expanded $5/tonne carbon charge, though industry is lobbying to include RECs as well, according to an industry expert.

AMERICAS

US EPA proposes restrictions on biofuels credit trading under RFS

The US EPA on Tuesday released a long-awaited proposal to allow year-round sales of 15% ethanol blends (E15) and limit trade in biofuel credits under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), with several stakeholders panning the latter measure.

Washington state ETS bill to skirt this week’s legislative deadline

A Washington state proposal to implement a WCI-modelled cap-and-trade programme will not be subject to Wednesday’s cut-off in the legislature and will likely have a public hearing in the coming weeks, a government spokesperson told Carbon Pulse.

New York waiting for New Jersey, Virginia before finalising RGGI regulations

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) is waiting for certainty on New Jersey and Virginia’s pending linkages to the northeast US RGGI market before advancing amendments to adopt the programme’s post-2020 Model Rule, an agency official confirmed to Carbon Pulse.

Pennsylvania nuclear subsidy plan draws pushback from utilities, greens

Pennsylvania lawmakers on Monday introduced legislation to add a nuclear carve-out to the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS), leading some opponents to label the move as a bailout for the industry and others to argue it would not do enough to promote clean energy.

EMEA

Uniper ends hedging freeze, notes Brexit sell-off opportunity

German utility Uniper ended its year-long hedging freeze in Q4 2018 but left its longer-dated positions unhedged, the company said in financial results on Tuesday, adding that it may look to sell its UK-based carbon holdings in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Luxembourg court confirms EU ruling that state can reclaim ArcelorMittal’s unused EUAs

A Luxembourg court has confirmed an EU ruling that its government can reclaim without compensation carbon allowances given to steelmaker ArcelorMittal to cover emissions at a shuttered plant.

EU Market: EUAs choppy, directionless amid ongoing Brexit uncertainty

European carbon prices ended little changed on Tuesday after fluctuating in another volatile session fuelled by ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.

ASIA PACIFIC

NZ Market: NZUs rise to 1-month high on healthy demand

Interest in New Zealand carbon allowances flared up on Tuesday, pushing the spot contract up 15 cents to close at its highest level in a month.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

In due course – Labor party leader Bill Shorten, favourite to become Australia’s next prime minister, on Tuesday declined to reveal the details of his party’s climate policy, noting the date of the May election had yet to be announced. But he did tell reporters that Labor is looking to put in place a “bipartisan market mechanism” to cut emissions, which is expected to be based on a reformed Safeguard Mechanism. That would likely entail tougher emission limits on non-electricity emitters, and a form of baseline-and-crediting scheme.

What BP says and what BP doesAn investigation by Unearthed has revealed the oil and gas major BP successfully lobbied the Trump administration to roll back key climate regulations that prevent methane emissions, despite claiming publicly to support the Paris Agreement. Both directly and through influential trade associations, BP first opposed and then helped reverse rules that would have restricted the deliberate venting and flaring of methane on federal lands, and also would have required more frequent equipment inspections to detect methane leaks. At least 1.7 Mt of methane could be released into the atmosphere over the next seven years as a result of the rollbacks, says Unearthed, equivalent to 58 Mt of CO2. In public, BP “has portrayed itself as an energy major at the forefront of a global campaign to reduce methane emissions from operations to combat climate change”, notes the Financial Times. While not responding directly to Unearthed, a BP spokesperson tells the FT that the company has “consistently advocated for regulation of methane emissions by one federal agency — the Environmental Protection Agency — rather than an inefficient patchwork of different federal or state agencies”. (Carbon Brief)

Carbon exploration – BP’s Deputy Chief Executive Lamar McKay said the company is exploring technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, including direct air capture or soil-based techniques, according to an Axios report. “We are looking at some of those, whether they will result in an investment, I don’t know yet, but yeah, absolutely we are keeping an eye on that,” he said. McKay said the company is also exploring potential low-carbon opportunities, including technology to connect EV drivers, charging station operators, and power suppliers in China.

California blues – EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler confirmed the agency will officially revoke California’s Clean Air waiver as it advances its fuel efficiency rules this spring, according to a Washington Examiner report. The move will force California to comply with the weaker national rules proposed by the Trump Administration in 2018, likely setting up a legal challenge between the state and the federal government. “In order to have a 50-state solution, we have to take care of the waiver,” Wheeler said. “There probably will be legal action. We can’t stop that from happening. We hope it will be wrapped up rather quickly.”

We’re (going to be) #1Royal Dutch Shell plans to become the world’s biggest power company within 15 years, a move that suggests it sees climate change as a bigger threat to its business than electricity’s historically weak returns. The world’s No. 2 oil explorer by market value is spending as much as $2 billion a year on its new-energies division, mainly to grow in a power sector it sees delivering 8 to 12 percent annual returns, according to Maarten Wetselaar, director of Shell’s integrated gas and new energies unit. (Bloomberg)

Money well spentAlberta has announced C$100 mln in funding for a new wave of clean technology projects that will be funded by the province’s carbon levy. The initiatives, which are projected to cumulatively cut emissions by more than 2.5 Mt of CO2e by 2030, include projects to transition Alberta’s diesel-powered transit buses to electric, to develop solar energy storage, and to sequester carbon in next-generation bioreactor technology. Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) received 180 expressions of interest in Sep. 2018 through the BEST Challenge, with 24 short-listed and invited to submit full project proposals and presentations. To date, ERA has committed more than C$572 mln in funding to 164 projects with a total value of approximately C$4.3 billion. These projects are estimated to deliver cumulative GHG reductions of 43 Mt by 2030.

Silver and gold – Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on Tuesday announced that the Silver State would become the 23rd subnational jurisdiction to join the US Climate Alliance. The coalition commits US states and territories to uphold the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Where’s the beef (emissions)? – Researchers from USDA and the beef industry are working on a full analysis of US cattle production, with the aim of measuring its environmental footprint to help explore ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Politico reports.

And finally… Turn down the sun – Researchers studying the potential consequences of solar geo-engineering – the dispersion of tiny sulphate aerosols into the upper atmosphere, where they would reflect incoming solar radiation and offset global warming – have come up with a way to avoid producing ill effects in some regions, such as drought. In a study published Monday in Nature Climate Change, researchers at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Georgia Tech used computer models to look at differences in regional precipitation and shifts in extreme weather events, including tropical cyclones, between a world with and without solar geo-engineering. Contrary to earlier studies that focused on schemes that would aim to cancel out all human-caused global warming, the new study found that halving the amount of warming would not have widespread, significant negative impacts on temperature, water availability, the intensity of hurricanes or extreme precipitation. Trying to offset all the warming, on the other hand, could cause significant harm to some regions, previous studies have shown. But one of the authors warned: “If people are thinking this is a get out of jail free card, a technological fix it means we don’t need to cut emissions, then they are mistaken. Or to be harsher: delusional.” (Axios)

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