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International emissions trade under the Paris Agreement looks unlikely to realise its potential for cost-effective climate action as governments remain wary about its benefits, even as advocates say pilot initiatives offer credible examples.
Oregon Senate Republicans are demanding the Democrat-controlled legislative and executive branches refer any carbon proposal to voters before the opposition party agrees to end its week-long walk-out in protest of cap-and-trade legislation, while stakeholders are working behind the scenes to make the bill more palatable to some lawmakers.
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices rebounded after seeing significant decreases during the previous week, while RGGI allowance (RGA) prices weakened on thin secondary market volume.
Japan’s environment ministry on Thursday announced it would co-fund seven projects that it expects could generate almost 4 million carbon credits under the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) by 2030.
Three HK-listed investment companies have signed a memorandum of understanding with a Shanghai-based carbon trading firm that paves the way for them to take a majority stake in one of mainland China’s biggest emission traders.
European carbon prices took a breather on Thursday, ending their five-day rally and receding from yesterday’s two-month high to fall under €27 on a late bout of profit-taking.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Saving Miami – US Democratic candidates spent more time discussing climate change at the first 2020 debate on Wednesday than in all the 2016 debates combined – and still clocked in at less than 10 minutes spent on the issue. When asked what the greatest geopolitical threat to the US is at the debate in Miami, four of the first 10 candidates to debate mentioned climate change, while a New York Times graph of time spent on each topic showed only half the debaters touched on climate at length during their time after being asked a climate question. Questions from moderators, which began 90 minutes into the debate, included whether or not climate plans will “save Miami” and how carbon pricing would play politically. The second debate featuring 10 of the remaining candidates takes place on Thursday evening. (Climate Nexus)
Not expedient – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come out against putting a price on CO2 by expanding the EU ETS to transport, buildings, and agriculture. “I believe that the idea that we can convince all European countries to expand the ETS system to the transport, building and agriculture sectors with the required urgency is not expedient because we need unanimous decisions for this. It can’t be done without the European Council,” Merkel told parliamentarians during question time in the Bundestag. Instead, she reiterated her call for “a coalition of the willing” among EU countries – a “special system” outside EU-wide policy. “We will talk to the Netherlands and France in particular about how to tackle the question of CO2 pricing. Whether that leads to a coalition of the willing, I cannot say today.” Merkel also said that the transport sector had shown itself to be the “most complicated” when it came to climate action, adding that a “multitude of approaches” would be necessary to reach targets. She has previously proposed forming such a coalition at a meeting of EU leaders in May. (Clean Energy Wire)
Seeing red – As the G20 leaders head for their annual meeting which this year is being hosted by Japan, the New York Times reports comments made by France’s Emmanuel Macron yesterday: “Taking up the cudgel on climate change in the face of American opposition, [Macron] threatened Wednesday not to sign any joint statement from the Group of 20 summit in Japan this week unless it deals with the issue, which he called a ‘red line’. In a rebuke of American officials, Macron emphasised the importance of reiterating support for the Paris climate agreement of 2015.” Macron is reported as saying: “If we don’t speak about the Paris Agreement, and if, to come to an agreement in a meeting of 20, we are no longer able to defend our climate goals, it will be without France. It’s simple. It will be without France.” France24 says that Japan is hoping to find “common ground” on climate change, but that the host’s “own environmental record is under increasing scrutiny” because of its continued use of coal. (Carbon Brief)
First to zero – The UK has become the first major economy to legislate to end its contribution to global warming after both houses of parliament adopted an adjustment to up the country’s 2050 target to net zero emissions from its previous goal of an 80% reduction, the Evening Standard reported. Reads Carbon Pulse’s update on how the government is going against its in-house experts by leaving open the door to using international credits.
Give it another go – Finding agreement on an EU goal of climate neutrality by the end of the year will be Finland’s major priority when it assumes the six-month rotating EU presidency on Monday, Prime Minister Antti Rinne said. The climate portion of the presidency programme also highlights the need for a more climate-responsive Common Agricultural Policy, bioeconomy and circular economy. (Helsinki Times)
Danish direction – Denmark’s newly formed centre-left minority government has announced a new political direction based on an ambitious climate manifesto forged with three other left-learning parties. It pledged to introduce binding decarbonisation goals and strengthen its 2030 emission target to -70% from -40% below 1990 levels. (EurActiv)
Captured cash – The UK has awarded nine companies a total of £26 million of funding for CCU plants. Some £4.2 mln is going to Tata Chemicals, which plans to build Britain’s first industrial-scale CCU demonstration plant. The £16.7 million facility is due to start in 2021 to trap up to 40,000 tonnes a year of CO2 for use in sodium carbonate manufacturing, cutting the plant’s emissions 11%. Utility Drax also received £5 mln for its pilot scheme.
Potentially captured cash – Oil major ExxonMobil on Thursday announced it signed a joint development agreement to advance technology to capture CO2 with Global Thermostat, a startup co-founded in 2010 by a former Exxon scientist. Exxon is not buying a stake in Global Thermostat, but will work alongside the company on research, with an eye toward possibly building a plant. The oil company did not reveal how much money it is putting toward the effort. (Axios)
Kenya cancels – Kenyan judges have halted plans to construct the country’s first ever coal-powered plant, ruling that authorities had failed to do a thorough environmental assessment. The Chinese-backed power station would increase the country’s emissions by 700%, activists say. At least two-thirds of Kenya’s electricity is currently generated by renewable resources and it has pledged to reduce its small carbon footprint by nearly a third over the next decade. (BBC)
And finally… Pi-KaPika coal – Do you care about the climate? Because Pikachu does! Well, climate activists in giant inflatable Pikachu costumes do. They protested outside the Japanese embassy in Manila on Tuesday, ahead of the annual G20 meeting Japan is preparing to host on Friday. The event coincided with the release of an ODI report showing the continued support of the coal industry by G20 governments, despite the urgent need to cut carbon emissions. (CNET)
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