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FEATURE: EU price boom in green certificates falters as ‘sleeping giants’ stir
European green certificate prices this year are likely to stay well below 2018’s record levels as the prospect looms of fledgling supply from renewables majors France and Germany, a conference heard this week.
RWE moves ahead on hedging, as emissions fall 10.5% in 2018
German utility RWE advanced its hedging position steadily over the quarter to leave it slightly ahead of where it was a year ago, the company said in its full-year results on Thursday.
Compliance buying to lift EU carbon prices above €30 in second half of 2019 -analysts
EU carbon allowances will rise to record highs during the second half of the year, analysts said, but not before prices muddle along within their current trading range through the rest of H1 2019.
EU Parliament piles pressure on leaders to take ambitious line on bloc’s 2050 climate strategy
The full EU Parliament on Thursday urged EU leaders to frame a more ambitious 2050 bloc-wide climate strategy and for Brussels to propose legislation to raise the bloc’s 2030 emission goal.
EU Market: EUAs lift as no-deal Brexit fears diminish, though sinking gas weighs
EUAs climbed on Thursday as the immediate prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit faded, though prices remain pinned by uncertainty over Britain’s EU divorce, with cheaper gas also weighing.
Safeguard Mechanism offset use drops 42% despite rising emissions
Facilities covered by Australia’s Safeguard Mechanism used 42% fewer offsets to meet their emissions target in FY2017-18 compared to the previous year despite rising emissions, as the few companies missing their targets explored other options to comply.
First soil carbon credits could unlock millions of offset supply in Australia
The Clean Energy Regulator on Thursday issued offsets to a soil carbon project, a global first that could unlock millions more carbon credits from Australia’s project pipeline.
Western Australia EPA withdraws carbon offset recommendations
The Environmental Protection Authority in western Australia has withdrawn recommendations that new big-emitting projects in the state should offset their carbon emissions.
Major NZ emitters set up joint firm to build carbon portfolio
Four major GHG emitters have teamed up to establish a joint company that will build up a forestry-based carbon portfolio to help meet their obligations under New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme.
NA Markets: WCI softens amid spring break holiday, while RGGI slides ahead of auction
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices declined slightly during the spring break holiday as RGGI allowance (RGA) prices dipped in front of the programme’s first quarterly sale of 2019.
LCFS Market: Trade in California futures picks up after dearth of activity
California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) futures contracts experienced a shot in the arm over the past week as several spread trades occurred, leaving market participants to ponder the reasons for the new activity.
US EPA issues five more RFS waivers as new submissions mount
The US EPA announced Thursday that it had granted five more compliance waivers under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), while rumours of more decisions to come in the near future exerted additional bearish pressure on biofuel credit prices.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
That time of year – Compliance season nears for emissions markets worldwide, and in China that means regional governments hosting pilot ETSs currently are in the process of notifying emitters of deadlines and rules, as these often change somewhat from year to year. The Beijing government has issued a notice to ETS participants in the capital that the annual compliance deadline this year will fall on July 31. Domestic offsets may be used to meet 5% of each emitter’s obligation, the same as in previous years.
It’s a start – Royal Dutch Shell plans to reduce carbon emissions from its oil and gas operations and product sales by 2-3% during the 2016-2021 period, the first time the oil major has issued carbon footprint targets. The targets, which will be linked to renumeration of roughly 150 executives in 2019 and expanded to 16,000 employees next year, will be applied one year earlier than it initially planned. The company has come under increased pressure to implement short-term climate goals, and in December announced it would set “net carbon footprint targets” over three- to five-year periods. (Reuters)
Thanks, Ibama – Brazil’s right-wing government has ordered environmental enforcement agency Ibama not to respond to requests from the media, stoking fears that President Jair Bolsonaro may be rolling back environmental protections outside the public view. Ibama said in a statement on Wednesday that all press requests should be directed to the ministry’s communications office, coming after Ibama’s head of communications was reportedly forced out weeks after resisting the ministry’s order to redirect the inquiries. Bolsonaro assumed office on Jan. 1 after pledging on the campaign trail to curb environmental fines – a key tool employed by Ibama to enforce its regulations. (Reuters)
Net benefit – The end of coal-fired power production will benefit Germany economically, a joint study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), the Wuppertal Institute, and the Ecologic Institute has found. The authors argue that the coal exit will stimulate investments in demand management, storage, power-to-x applications, and efficiency technologies, and it might also reduce grid management costs. Moreover, the study says that a managed coal phaseout with fixed decommissioning dates for individual plants is a much more effective and predictable way to reduce emissions than relying on a market solution through the EU ETS. (Clean Energy Wire)
Don’t disappoint – Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel summoned the leaders of the country’s transport commission and several cabinet members to make sure the body tasked with making proposals for bringing down emissions in the sector stays on schedule and delivers its report by the end of March, according to Sueddeutsche Zeitung. According to the transport ministry, the report will be released on Mar. 29 and is not going to be postponed. A postponement was briefly suggested after a leaked draft caused an outcry by transport minister Andreas Scheuer and parts of the media over suggestions, such as introducing a speed limit on the German Autobahn and increasing fuel prices. (Clean Energy Wire)
Second time’s the charm – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) has vetoed legislation that would prohibit the state from joining the northeast US RGGI carbon market without two-thirds approval in the House and Senate. This is the second year in a row where Northam has struck down the legislation passed by the Republican-controlled legislature, with the GOP unlikely to secure the necessary two-thirds majority to override the veto with its narrow majorities in each chamber. Northam also has until midnight on Mar. 26 to veto another bill that would bar the state’s participation in the Transportation and Climate Initiative’s (TCI) regional carbon pricing mechanism for the transportation sector being developed.
Green New Dealings – US Senators could take their first vote on the “Green New Deal” (GND) resolution, calling for a dramatic shift off fossil fuels, after they return on Mar. 25 from next week’s recess. The latest development in the resolution, introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and Senator Ed Markey (D) last month, came on Thursday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) filed cloture on the measure. The resolution has predictably divided lawmakers along party lines in both the Senate and House, the latest example of which came on Thursday when GOP Representative Rob Bishop called the GND “tantamount to genocide”. (Bloomberg Environment, Axios)
Sore about storage – A US federal judge on Wednesday denied oil major ExxonMobil’s motion to dismiss multiple climate change-related claims brought against its Boston-area facility. In 2016, environmental advocacy organisation Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) alleged that Exxon violated the permit requirements for its oil storage terminal in Everett, Massachusetts by failing to consider the risk of imminent extreme weather events, such as flooding and storm surge. Although Exxon’s attorney argued that CLF’s claims weren’t supported by facts, US District Court Judge Mark Wolf was not convinced by this argument, pointing to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration models showing the terminal lies in an area vulnerable to storm surge. Exxon has indicated it will seek a stay on the case, with a tentative hearing date for that motion of May 14. (Climate Liability News)
Gelatinous conversations – The US Department of Energy (DOE) has not given up on crafting a financial support package for at-risk coal and nuclear plants, Secretary Rick Perry said Wednesday, but he encouraged states to develop their own programmes. Speaking at the CERAWeek Conference in Houston, Perry said the agency is still “looking for answers” to plant retirements, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied the DOE’s first bailout request last year. “I’m open to conversations,” Perry told reporters at the event. “I’ve thrown a lot of Jell-O at the wall on this one trying to find some solutions that we can all, or at least a majority of us, can get behind.” (Utility Dive)
Carbon capture craic – The Trump administration is developing guidance to help companies qualify for a build-out tax credit for carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS), after industry officials and lawmakers have complained the IRS is moving too slowly on implementing the increased ‘45Q’ credit, Politico reports. That news came as the US Department of Energy (DOE) on Wednesday announced up to $30 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development for front-end engineering design (FEED) studies. The projects, funded by the Office of Fossil Energy’s Carbon Capture program, will support FEED studies for CO2 systems on both coal and natural gas power plants. Additionally, a bipartisan group of US representatives introduced the Carbon Capture Modernisation Act, HR-1796, on Thursday. The bill would make it possible for existing coal power plants to add carbon capture equipment by reforming the 48A tax credit.
Geoengineer sneer – The US and Saudi Arabia blocked a Swiss push to develop geoengineering governance at the UN Environment Assembly this week, leading the country to withdraw its resolution at the international agency’s summit in Kenya on Wednesday evening. The proposal would have directed the UN agency to study the controversial geoengineering technologies as a first step towards deciding if and how they should be regulated internationally. However, the US and Saudi Arabia were said to have opposed any move that could hamper their ability to tackle climate change through geoengineering and continue producing fossil fuels, according to observers at the meeting. (Climate Home News)
Everyone’s business – Four environmental NGOs on Thursday sued the French government for failing to uphold its commitments on fighting climate change, the latest in a series of high-profile cases that aim to force governments around the world into action. The foundation of Nicolas Hulot, a crusading former environment minister who quit President Emmanuel Macron’s government last year over what he saw as its failure to green the economy, has teamed up with Oxfam, Greenpeace and “Notre Affaire A Tous” (It’s Everyone’s Business) in taking on the state. More than 2 million people have signed a petition backing the move. (France24)
Great Greta – Three Norwegian lawmakers have nominated Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who has become a prominent voice in campaigns against climate change, for the Nobel Peace Prize. Thunberg, 16, has encouraged students to skip school to join protests demanding faster action on climate change, a movement that has spread beyond Sweden to other European nations and which will see major demonstrations on Friday. Any national lawmaker can nominate somebody for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee doesn’t publicly comment on nominations, which for 2019 had to be submitted by Feb. 1. (AP)
And finally… Green Bond – Long-haul flights, tonnes of guns, and a bagpipe flamethrower: such are the special demands of his career that James Bond has never been considered a poster boy for an eco-friendly lifestyle. But next year’s 25th Bond film looks set to have Ian Fleming’s hero make his first concession to climate change, by driving an electric Aston Martin – albeit one which retails at £250,000. According to the Guardian, the film will see Daniel Craig’s 007 behind the wheel of an Aston Martin Rapide E, one of only 155 electric cars being built by the British manufacturer.
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