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The UK government’s £120 million (€140 mln) EU ETS compliance loan to British Steel was an exceptional bailout due to Brexit delays, Britain’s business minister told the country’s parliament on Wednesday, confirming that all UK entities have now met their 2018 obligations under the scheme.
Power sector emissions under the RGGI ETS fell during the first quarter of 2019 as mild weather in the US northeast reduced electricity demand from carbon-intensive units, according to preliminary data from the regulator.
A New York power plant is facing penalties from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for failing to comply under RGGI, but the facility may be exempt from future obligations, a state official told Carbon Pulse.
Credit generation outpaced deficits in the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) programme for the first time in over a year during the fourth quarter of 2018 due to an influx of renewable diesel and biodiesel credits.
The French government has put before its parliament a plan to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2050 and launched a citizen-led process on Wednesday that aims to decide many of the steps needed to reach the goal.
Danish utility Orsted reported a 31% drop in its bioenergy and EU ETS-regulated thermal power and heat output in Q1 2019 as demand slumped due to warmer weather combined with the company’s gradual move away from fossil fuels.
EUAs slipped below €26 on Wednesday as gas prices weakened and trade thinned due to a public holiday across much of the bloc.
New Zealand’s interim Climate Change Commission has submitted to the government its recommendation on whether agriculture should be in the ETS, but publication of the advice will be delayed amid reports the ruling coalition partners have struck a separate deal for methane emissions.
In the middle of last month, US Senator (and New Green Deal co-sponsor) Ed Markey (D-Mass) said his party would make sure that any overhaul of the country’s infrastructure was done with clean energy. These “green infrastructure” projects don’t just keep greenhouse gas emissions down though; they generate environmental benefits. Some of them can even become carbon negative, meaning they can absorb more GHGs than they emit.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Get smart – The World Bank on Wednesday launched the Climate Smart Mining Facility to support the sustainable extraction and processing of materials and metals used in clean energy technologies. According to the press release, the fund will focus on helping resource-rich developing countries benefit from the increasing demand for minerals and metals, while ensuring the mining sector is managed in a way that minimises the environmental and climate footprint. The World Bank is targeting a total investment of $50 million, to be deployed over a five-year timeframe.
Cleared for take off – London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, has overcome an attempt by environmental groups to block construction of a third runway that it says is needed to boost flights and compete with rival hubs trying to steal its traffic. Construction can go ahead after judges on Wednesday threw out lawsuits from Friends of the Earth, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and other groups seeking to challenge the UK government’s approval of the plan, Bloomberg reports. Opponents alleged the proposal violated the UK’s climate change policy and didn’t take account of the Paris Agreement. But that pact isn’t part of British law, even though the country has ratified it – and this posed an “overarching difficulty” to the lawsuit, the three judges said. Though it can still be appealed, the decision reduces the risks involved with a lawsuit that could’ve become a major stumbling block for the third runway plan. If the government had lost the case, it would’ve had to start the process again, potentially causing delays and uncertainty.
Gotta get down on Friday – Judges for the Saskatchewan Court of Appeals will issue their ruling in the province’s lawsuit against the federal Canadian ‘backstop’ carbon pricing plan at 1200 local time (1800 GMT) on Friday, May 3. The case, which could have major ramifications for the ruling Liberal party’s landmark climate policy, challenged the constitutionality of Ottawa’s ability to impose its C$20 carbon tax and output-based pricing system (OBPS) for large emitters on Saskatchewan. See Carbon Pulse’s coverage of the two-day trial here and here. (CBC)
40 long – The US Department of Energy (DOE) has given the EPA its scoring results for the 40 compliance waiver applications submitted for the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for 2018, sources tell Reuters. The non-binding recommendations provide guidance for whether the EPA grants eligible facilities the small refiner exemptions (SREs) to waive compliance requirements under the RFS, and comes after the Trump-era EPA granted 35 exemptions for 2017 compliance, up from seven during the last year of the Obama presidency. While the EPA said that it had not made any decisions on this year’s SREs, one source told the news outlet a final decision is not expected until the end of the month.
Climate concern – Democratic voters are viewing climate change as the top priority ahead of the 2020 US election, according to a new CNN poll released Tuesday. Among the 411 voters surveyed, 96% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said it’s very important for a presidential candidate to promise aggressive action on climate change, beating out other topics like Medicare for All and tuition-free public college. Some 82% of those polled said it was very important to address climate change, while 14% said it was somewhat important. (Axios)
Be more concrete – Offset project developer and standard manager Verra has released a new methodology for CO2 utilisation in concrete production. The methodology is applicable to project activities that use waste CO2 as a feedstock in the production of concrete, which lowers emissions by capturing gas that otherwise would have been emitted into the atmosphere, and lowers the amount of concrete required in the production of cement compared to traditional processes. Comments on the methodology are due by May 30.
Look east – The EU has launched a new regional initiative – EU4Climate – to help Eastern European countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) develop and implement climate-related policies based on the countries’ commitments under the Paris Agreement, the Association and Partnership Agreements with the EU, the Eastern Partnership policy initiative “20 Deliverables for 2020,” and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The EU4Climate project, with a total budget of €8.8 million, will help the six countries to develop and implement forward-looking climate policies. (Armenpress)
And finally… Gorilla warfare – Global warming could cause stress to endangered Virunga mountain gorillas, potentially raising the risk of health problems and early deaths, a new study published in the journal Ecology and Evolution suggests. Using fecal samples taken in the wild from 115 gorillas, researchers found that Virunga gorillas show elevated stress levels in months with higher-than-average temperatures and rainfall. The findings provide “robust” evidence of how climate change could heighten the animals’ stress levels, a primatologist tells Carbon Brief. “We don’t know yet what the long-term impact of this physiological response will be, but it could be a harbinger of reduced survival or fertility.”
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