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The surrendering of Colombian offsets to comply with the country’s carbon tax has slowed this year due to an extreme supply squeeze and administrative delays.
South Korean carbon allowances traded at their highest-ever levels on Monday as buyers were forced to pay more for the few permits available with only three weeks left until the annual compliance deadline.
Growing at around 30% annually, China’s data centres have emerged as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions that should be encouraged to invest in renewables or buy credits from the nation’s renewable energy certificate market, according to a report published Monday.
RGGI compliance entities significantly increased their holdings on the secondary market prior to the September auction, while they also added length at the quarterly sale amid expectations prices will rise in the future, traders said.
International communities could struggle to meet the criteria set by California’s proposed Tropical Forest Standard (TFS), but the adoption of the policy may incentivise them to begin addressing deforestation, according to experts.
The private sector has limited access to a slowly emerging international carbon market as governments are likely to take another two years to finalise its rules, experts said on Monday.
European carbon held near €25 on Monday, with sellers keeping prices tethered to that key level amid a sharp increase in auction supply and wider political worries.
A Paris court has upheld the sentences of two men jailed for defrauding the French government out of €146 million via the EU ETS.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The new boss – The Netherlands’ Frans Timmermans is poised to become the EU’s next climate commissioner under European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, according to an unverified “leaked” list making the rounds on social media. The entire proposed cabinet is set to be unveiled on Tuesday. Timmermans is currently the First Vice President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Prior to that, he was the Dutch minister of foreign affairs. He was also a candidate for the Commission’s top job this past spring. The leaked list shows that the energy and climate portfolio, currently held by outgoing commissioner Miguel Arias Canete of Spain, would be split, with Latvia’s Valdis Dombrovskis getting the energy file and Timmermans taking climate action. Carbon Pulse would caution readers that a similar list circulated in Sep. 2014 ahead of the last Commission turnover, but that list proved to be incorrect, having named the UK’s Jonathan Hill as the bloc’s energy and climate change chief.
Ready to deal? – San Francisco is willing to pay $2.5 billion to buy Pacific Gas & Electric’s power lines and related infrastructure serving the city, according to a letter sent to the embattled utility by Mayor London Breed and City Attorney Dennis Herrera. The offer would not include the utility’s natural gas infrastructure. A PG&E spokesperson said it did not believe municipalisation was in the best interests of customers, but it would maintain communication with the city about the issue. If the transaction occurred, it would create the third-largest government-owned electric utility behind Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Sacramento Utility District. It would likely also create a new publicly-owned utility in California’s cap-and-trade programme. PG&E was slated to release its restructuring plan on Monday. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Tax time – The EU is studying a reform of the bloc’s “outdated” energy taxes to align them with climate targets, according to documents seen by Reuters, listing higher minimum tax rates, fossil fuel levies, and the end of waivers for the aviation and maritime sectors as possible measures. The document was prepared by the Finnish presidency of the EU ahead of a meeting of the bloc’s finance ministers on Saturday in Helsinki. The confidential non-binding paper urges a review of minimum tax rates for energy products, which currently differ among EU states and do not reward energy efficiency. “The minimum rates for electricity and heating fuels, for example, are too low to give an adequate price signal to energy users,” discouraging investment in efficiency, the document said. It added tax exemptions for planes and ships are “not in line with the decarbonisation objectives of the Union’s transport policies.” Opposition from some member states is anticipated, but the European Commission’s president-designate Ursula von der Leyen is expected to invest much of her political capital on the reform and to support a proposal that ends the unanimous support required to overhaul the bloc’s tax rules.
Fossil aid – At least five EU member states, including Germany, are looking to introduce new funds or tax breaks for fossil fuel industries, according to NGOs CAN Europe, FOE Netherlands and ODI, in a report analysing the nation’s draft energy and climate plans (NECPs). Another six, including the UK and France, wrongly claim that they don’t have any funding or tax breaks for fossil fuels while 10 did not include any information despite it being a requirement. (Euronews)
Our plan – The Bavarian conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) – sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU – has agreed on what it calls a “comprehensive climate action concept” as the federal government coalition enters the final two weeks of negotiations on a major climate action legislation package to be decided in a meeting on Sep. 20. The CSU is calling for climate neutrality in Germany “by 2050 at the latest”. It says it wants to bring together “social, economic and ecological goals” in one strategy, emphasising “innovation instead of bans”. The party rejects a CO2 tax in the transport and buildings sectors, instead calling for an emissions trading system with upper and lower price limits for the allowances – to be updated regularly. It proposes to use the revenues to pay for Germany’s feed-in tariffs for renewable power, thus lowering the current renewables surcharge. The party also proposes tax rebates for climate-friendly investments by private citizens and businesses, such as energy-efficient modernisation of buildings or buying climate-friendly appliances. (Clean Energy Wire)
Finns for the win – Finland’s new government will propose a tax increase later this year on fossil fuel used for transport, as well as measures to help expand electric vehicle charging networks, the country’s environment ministry told Reuters. The size of the fuel tax and of the electricity subsidy will be determined as part of Finland’s 2020 fiscal budget, said Outi Honkatukia, the country’s chief climate change negotiator. The working group will also commission new studies to identify the best measures to reach carbon neutrality by 2035. These will include studies on cutting emissions across all sectors and increasing the use of carbon capture and storage sinks for the country’s heavy industries such as forestry.
Gone too far – Several US conservative think-tanks and coal companies sued EPA over its Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule on Friday – marking the first legal attacks on the rule for going too far in regulating GHG pollution from coal-fired power plants, Politico reports. One lawsuit filed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation contends it’s not appropriate to characterise GHG emissions as a “significant” contributor to global climate change. And the Competitive Enterprise Institute has maintained the “112 exclusion” argument it also made against the now-defunct Obama rule that the Clean Air Act bars EPA from regulating GHGs from power plants because those sources are already regulated for mercury.
Gujarat says no – The Indian state of Gujarat will not approve any further coal-fired power generation capacity, the government said this weekend, according to the Indian Express. The state already has the second highest coal capacity in the country and electricity demand increases by some 8-10% annually, but that demand will from now on be met by new energy sources, especially solar, the government said. Earlier this year, the state became the first in India to pilot a market for air pollution credits.
All clear – Australia has cleared 7.7 million hectares of land since it introduced a law in 2000 to prevent just that, according to a new study reported by the Guardian newspaper. Some 93% of that was cleared without being run by the government for assessment and approval beforehand. Land clearing is a large source of GHG emissions in Australia, but stopping it in the 2000s was the main reason why the nation managed to meet its Kyoto Protocol target, as carbon emissions in all other sectors grew at the time.
Cluster muster – Energy companies have ignited multibillion-pound plans for the UK’s first carbon-neutral “industrial cluster” in the Humber region. An alliance of companies, including National Grid, Drax and Norway’s state energy company Equinor, are leading a campaign to shrink the carbon footprint of Britain’s most polluting industrial zone. The cluster includes hundreds of refineries, factories and the Drax coal-fired power plant near the Humber estuary, safeguarding 55,000 jobs and a local industrial economy worth £18bn a year. However, it is also responsible for the highest concentration of industrial emissions in the country, undermining the UK’s goal to become a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. The alliance plans to trial CCS technology and hopes to break down natural gas to create hydrogen, which can be used in industry, heating and transport without creating GHGs. (Guardian)
Another rise – BC’s GHG emissions increased again in 2017, despite reduced carbon intensity from key sources including oil and gas refining and road transportation. The Canadian province’s environment ministry released its latest data Monday, reporting a 1.7% increase over 2016. After accounting for 1 million tonnes of carbon offsets from forest management projects, net emissions for the year were 64.5 Mt of CO2e for the year. The environment ministry reports that emissions were reduced in oil and gas extraction, road transport, electricity and heat production. Sectors with increases included manufacturing, off-road transport, residential and agriculture. The province has had a carbon tax for over 10 years, though it was frozen at C$30/tonne between 2012 and 2018. (Coast Mountain News)
A walk in the Amazon – A group of Amazon employees pressuring the company to take meaningful action to slow climate change revealed plans Monday for a walkout Sep. 20 to support a student protest that day. Some 941 employees – a fraction of the Seattle commerce giant’s 650,000-person global workforce – have so far indicated plans to participate. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group that put a climate proposal before shareholders this spring and amassed about 8,200 signatures on a letter urging company founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to take the lead on the global issue, released a video and blog post outlining their intentions to take action later this month. (Seattle Times)
Delta force – Market index provider MSCI is acquiring Zurich-based environmental fintech and data analytics firm Carbon Delta. “Together, MSCI and Carbon Delta will create an extensive climate risk assessment and reporting offering for the institutional market, providing global investors with solutions to help them better understand the impact of climate change on their investment portfolios and comply with mandatory and voluntary climate risk disclosure initiatives and requirements,” the companies announced in a statement. The deal comes weeks after rating agency Moody’s purchased climate risk consultancy Four Twenty Seven.
And finally… Stop pretending – The New Yorker has published a divisive article by author Jonathan Franzen, in which he takes a pessimistic yet accepting view on humans’ ability to avert catastrophic climate change. “The struggle to rein in global carbon emissions and keep the planet from melting down has the feel of Kafka’s fiction. The goal has been clear for 30 years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than 60, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth – massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under 30, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it. If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping that catastrophe is preventable, and feel ever more frustrated or enraged by the world’s inaction. Or you can accept that disaster is coming, and begin to rethink what it means to have hope. Even at this late date, expressions of unrealistic hope continue to abound. Hardly a day seems to pass without my reading that it’s time to ‘roll up our sleeves’ and ‘save the planet’; that the problem of climate change can be ‘solved’ if we summon the collective will. Although this message was probably still true in 1988, when the science became fully clear, we’ve emitted as much atmospheric carbon in the past 30 years as we did in the previous two centuries of industrialization. The facts have changed, but somehow the message stays the same.”
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