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Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday called a national election for May 18, of which the outcome will play a decisive rile for Australia’s future climate ambitions and the extent to which it will use emissions markets to reach its goals.
China’s biggest cap-and-trade market saw a 460% year-on-year increase in value over Q1 as institutional investors entered amid signs of the scheme’s historical allowance surplus drying up, pushing prices up to four-year highs in the process.
New Zealand’s gross GHG emissions rose 2.2% in 2017, government data showed Thursday, sparking fresh vows from Climate Change Minister James Shaw to reform the nation’s emissions trading scheme and put in place legislation to bring carbon output to zero by mid-century.
European carbon stormed to a fresh 11-year high on Thursday as buyers pushed them above €27 amid rising gas and coal, though some experts said that after rallying almost 30% since the end of March, EUAs could now be due a large correction.
EUAs are on track to peak just shy of €40 in four years, but they could fall far short of that and even drop below €10 by 2030 if member states aggressively phase out coal power without cancelling carbon allowances to offset the impact, an ICIS analyst said on Thursday.
The UK is pushing ahead with plans to develop its own emissions trading scheme to implement after it leaves the EU, despite the ongoing impasse in Brexit negotiations, though it appears to have fallen slightly behind schedule.
Green groups are again preparing numerous arguments to support the Canadian federal government’s ability to impose its ‘backstop’ CO2 pricing plan on recalcitrant provinces as Ontario’s court challenge starts Monday.
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices rose significantly this week as new speculative capital continued to drive the WCI market’s recent bull run, while RGGI allowances (RGAs) saw minimal activity and small gains on the secondary market.
California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credit prices continued their month-long slide this week after regulator ARB floated a price ceiling for transactions in the programme.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Park place – The Chilean government on Thursday revealed that this December’s COP25 UN climate summit will be held in Cerrillos Bicentennial Park in the capital Santiago. The 100,000 square-metre park, the former site of Santiago’s international airport, will include temporary structures built to accommodate the expected 20,000 delegates. Chilean officials also named recycling entrepreneur Gonzalo Munoz Abogair as “climate champion” for the December summit, responsible for coordinating action by businesses, city, and civil society leaders alongside the formal talks. (Climate Home)
CCS push – The Norwegian government will propose to parliament to fund 75% of a 535 mln NOK ($63 mln) of a CCS research well, it announced Thursday. Currently, Equinor, Shell, and Total are covering the brunt of the costs for the CO2 storage research project, located at the Norwegian Continental Shelf. They have asked the government to help pay for the project, and the petroleum and energy minister said Norway won’t be able to meet its climate goals without a successful CCS programme in place.
Swinging for the fences – Four Democratic US senators on Wednesday evening reintroduced a carbon pricing bill that would tax CO2 at a rate of $52/tonne in 2020, rising by 6% annually over inflation. The American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act would also reduce energy-related CO2 emissions by 51% compared to 2005 levels by 2029, according to an analysis by think-tank Resources for the Future. However, like most carbon pricing bills introduced in the 116th Congress, it stands almost no chance of passing with Republicans controlling the Senate and President Trump in the White House. That was reinforced during a media call on the bill introduction, when sponsors Sheldon Whitehouse, Martin Heinrich, and Brian Schatz all said they wouldn’t scrap the procedural Senate filibuster – which requires at least 60 votes to debate most major bills – to advance their agenda. Republicans currently outnumber Democrats and independents in the upper chamber 53-47. (Axios)
Bernhardt begins – The US Senate on Thursday confirmed former fossil fuel lobbyist David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt was approved by a 56-41 margin, with several Democrats crossing the aisle to join their Republican colleagues in affirming the choice. Prior to the vote Senator Tom Carper said that while he expected several fellow Democrats to vote yes on Bernhardt, “they’ll have a special opportunity, maybe a special burden, to hold his feet to the fire” once confirmed. “They do so somewhat at their own peril,” he added. Environmental groups immediately criticised the decision. “The fossil fuel industry couldn’t ask for a better ‘thank you’ from the US Senators they bankrolled than David Bernhardt leading DOI,” Friends of the Earth fossil fuel programmes manager Nicole Ghio said in a press release.
Cause and EFFECT – A bipartisan group of US Senators on Thursday introduced the EFFECT Act to increase federal funding toward developing carbon capture technology while also committing to fossil fuel use. Introduced by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D), the bill would direct the Department of Energy to establish four new research programmes within its Office of Fossil Energy focused on carbon storage, carbon utilisation, carbon removal, and also coal and natural gas technology. The carbon removal program under the bill would specifically provide research and development for new technologies and strategies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere on a large scale. (The Hill)
Corporate craic – Apple on Thursday announced an expansion in the number of suppliers that will meet the energy needs of the tech giant’s production with renewables. The company said that 44 suppliers, roughly double the previous number, have now made the pledge to bring 4 GW of renewables into Apple’s supply chain by 2020. The move comes one day after 3,500 employees of fellow tech giant Amazon issued an open letter calling for much firmer and more aggressive carbon-cutting goals and targets. The letter notes that Amazon hasn’t set a deadline to meet its pledge to run its operations wholly on renewables, and asks the company to abandon a business line of cloud computing services for oil-and-gas companies that help them optimise production. (Axios)
Cash for carbon – Zhongsheng Paper in China’s Guangdong province has obtained funding from the Bank of China’s Zhaoqing branch using 81,000 carbon allowances for the provincial ETS as part of its underlying security. Bank loans are notoriously difficult to get in China for non-state owned companies, and using CO2 permits as leverage first emerged as an option around 2014, right after China launched its host of pilot markets. The trend died off again, but with new regulations for the national ETS out and Guangdong CO2 prices at a 4-year high, the timing favoured this paper company. (Via IdeaCarbon, in Chinese)
And finally… Music to my fears – The advent of digital music streaming has led to a rise in GHGs compared to manufacturing and distributing hard copies in the past, according to a new study. Results of a research collaboration called The Cost of Music between the University of Glasgow and the University of Oslo show that although creating vinyl and CDs involved more plastic production, storing and processing digital music yields a greater impact on the environment. In 2016, storing and transmitting digital music files generated estimated GHGs of 200,000-350,000 tonnes, compared to 157,000 tonnes in 2000 and 140,000 tonnes in 1977.
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