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BP and Phillips 66 offered competing opinions Thursday on a Washington state bill to implement a WCI-modelled cap-and-trade programme by 2021, months after both companies spent millions to defeat a voter-led $15 carbon tax proposal.
US Representative Paul Tonko (D) unveiled a set of nine principles for climate action on Thursday, aiming to shore up lawmaker and stakeholder support in pursuit of a comprehensive national plan.
RGGI allowance (RGA) prices jumped significantly this week after the March auction results surprised market participants and prompted aggressive buying, while California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices continue their surprising increase in early 2019.
A Canadian carbon capture firm has completed its latest funding round that will allow it to build its first commercial scale direct air capture (DAC) facility, potentially leading to deployment of the technology that could remove greenhouse gases at a lower cost.
The UK government has imposed fines totalling nearly £900,000 on more than 40 entities for EU ETS non-compliance in the latest round of climate-related penalties.
Czechia-based utility CEZ was lagging behind its historical hedging rates by the end of Feb, it said in financial results this week, potentially pointing to an uptick in its carbon buying for the coming months.
EU carbon prices dropped below €21 on Thursday as gas prices resumed their downward slide and the bloc’s leaders met in an attempt to stave off the prospects of a no-deal Brexit.
China will publish new green bond standards later this month that will for the first time deem ‘clean coal’ ineligible, Reuters reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Look who’s 25 – The UNFCCC came into force a quarter century ago. To mark the occasion, Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa delivered remarks on this important milestone and encouraged greater ambition and action for a sustainable future.
East-west gapping – Germany is siding with Poland, Hungary and Czechia in its refusal to commit to climate neutrality by 2050, according to leaked documents prepared in advance of this week’s European Council summit in Brussels. France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Sweden and Denmark have all backed a European Commission plan to decarbonise the EU by 2050, linking it specifically to the Paris Agreement objective of keeping global warming below 1.5°C, EurActiv reports. The countries are not expected to reach an agreement on the issue until later in the year.
Put it on our tab – German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has opted to pay expensive fines for failing to meet the country’s non-ETS emissions targets rather than invest in climate action, according to Die Welt. The new budget tabled Wednesday does not include financial support to make buildings more energy efficient, pushing Germany closer to missing its 2020 targets under the EU’s Effort Sharing Directive. The budget contains reserves of up to €300 million until 2022 for fines payable under the mechanism. A commission for emission reduction in the buildings sector was promised in Germany’s coalition treaty but has yet to be set up by interior minister Horst Seehofer, who is also in charge of the buildings department. (Clean Energy Wire)
Lobby ban – Members of European Parliament are considering banning Exxon from lobbying over allegations the company publicly sowed doubt about climate science despite internally acknowledging the atmospheric impacts of its products. The matter was the subject of a public committee hearing on climate denial held Thursday in the European Parliament in Brussels, with Exxon declining to attend because it was “constrained from participating because of ongoing climate litigation in the United States.” (Climate Liability News)
Storm in a tea cup – When the Western Australia EPA recently proposed that all new large projects should be obligated to offset their carbon emissions, local industry led by Woodside Petroleum reacted angrily saying it would put huge investment plans in doubt, eventually forcing the agency to withdraw the proposal. But according to the Australia Institute think-tank, Woodside would barely notice it if the policy was imposed on its existing projects. Buying offsets at current prices would shave off 1.5% of last year’s A$1.17 bln profit enjoyed by its North West Shelf project, and 1.1% of the A$2.18 bln the company made from the Pluto LNG project. (Sydney Morning Herald)
What’s the difference? – The New Brunswick government is pitching a new carbon pricing system for large emitters that appears very similar to the Canadian federal ‘backstop’ output-based pricing system (OBPS) it is seeking to replace. The Progressive Conservative government of Premier Blaine Higgs is proposing performance standards that would regulate large industrial emitters and electricity generators releasing over 50,000 tonnes of CO2e annually, with an opt-in for entities above 10,000, matching the federal scheme. Also like Ottawa’s programme, New Brunswick’s compliance options would include paying an excess emissions charge of C$20 in 2019 and rising to C$50 in 2022, purchasing tradable and bankable performance credits, and utilising offsets. But opponents warned that the new standards would be weaker than the federal government’s, though New Brunswick environment minister Jeff Carr said the provincial threshold “would lead to industry being on a fair playing field with our neighbours and exporters in other jurisdictions around”. New Brunswick is supporting Saskatchewan and Ontario in their legal challenges against the federal carbon pricing mandate. (CBC)
Sacre budget – The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government on Thursday unveiled its first budget since taking office last fall, pledging an extra C$1.3 bln to reduce GHGs over the next six years. That money will come from the Canadian province’s Green Fund financed by WCI-linked cap-and-trade programme, with specific measures including electric vehicle rebates. However, critics said the right-wing CAQ was not spending enough money on public transit, as the government’s public infrastructure plan showed the same amount of planned spending on transit as last year, or C$9 bln, while proposals for spending on roads went up 25% to reach C$24.5 bln. (Montreal Gazette).
Drop the drills – A US federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on almost 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometres) of land in Wyoming, rebuking the government for failing to take the climate impacts of its fossil fuel expansion plants into account. US District Judge Rudolph Contreras sided with three advocacy groups in the 2016 case, brought against the federal Bureau of Land Management, criticising the agency’s environmental analyses and ordering the government to “take a hard look” at how drilling would affect the nation’s carbon output. (Climate Nexus)
Fear the uninsured – Climate change could make insurance unaffordable for ordinary people by prompting significant rises to premiums, the world’s largest reinsurance firm warned. Ernst Rauch, chief climatologist of the world’s largest reinsurance firm Munich Re, said costs could soon be widely felt, and insurance companies are already discussing premium rises for some vulnerable areas. That reassessment of risk by insurance companies could make premiums too expensive for some people to afford. (The Guardian)
Help from friends – The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is assisting the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in seeking to identify investors who may be eligible for restitution in a failed carbon credit investment scheme targeting forestry projects in Sierra Leone, Brazil, and Australia. Following action in Britain’s High Court in relation to a series of unregistered collective investment schemes, the financial watchdogs are seeking to identify defrauded investors who may qualify. It is not known how many Australians lost money in the scheme operated by Capital Alternatives and other connected firms.
Unprecedented peak – Arctic sea ice reached its winter peak this month, marking the seventh-lowest extent on record. The ice peaked at 14.78 square kilometres on Mar. 13, according to preliminary estimates from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Colorado, tying 2007 as the smallest winter maximum in the 40-year satellite era. The NSIDC said the “most remarkable feature” of the Arctic sea ice this winter has been the very low cover in the Bering Sea, following similar lows there last year that one scientist called “unprecedented in at least the satellite era”. (Carbon Brief)
And finally… Offsetting the Bern – Senator Bernie Sanders’ US presidential campaign has become the first in the 2020 race to promise that it will offset its emissions while traversing the country. The Sanders campaign is buying offsets from Vermont-based offset provider NativeEnergy, the same company that former US Senator Hillary Clinton (D) used in her campaign while bidding for the presidency in 2016. (Huffington Post)
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