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Pakistan has set up a national committee to assess the role and scope of a potential domestic carbon market as well as entering into a bilateral deal that could see the nation supply offsets to China’s national emissions trading scheme.
The high-level segment of the UN climate summit kicked off Tuesday as national ministers descended on the Spanish capital, with the Paris Agreement’s market-based Article 6 text still requiring a substantial amount of work. Below is a running summary of those efforts, as well as other happenings at the summit.
Several rich-nation governments have pledged a total of $100 million to extend through 2030 and revamp the World Bank-led PMR carbon pricing technical support facility for emerging economies.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) intends to once again back a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) during the 2020 legislative session, but his administration will not endorse a state senator’s WCI-modelled cap-and-trade bill, an advisor told Carbon Pulse on the sidelines of the UN climate summit Tuesday.
The World Bank’s Pilot Auction Facility (PAF) will hold its fourth auction on Mar. 3, 2020 to buy methane emission reduction credits from projects in the developing world, the bank announced Tuesday.
WCI carbon auction volume owned by California will dip nearly a quarter next year, while Quebec’s free permit allocation to industrial entities will increase compared to 2019, according to Carbon Pulse analysis.
New Zealand’s NZX and Germany-based EEX are joining forces in a bid to run the auction platform for New Zealand’s reformed ETS and will together explore other partnership opportunities in the country and elsewhere, the exchanges announced Tuesday.
Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Agency has released new greenhouse gas emission guidelines for big-emitting projects, confirming expectations by backing down from a previous proposal to introduce mandatory offsetting but keeping carbon credits on the table as a compliance option.
European carbon prices dipped back below €25, giving back all of yesterday’s gains in an otherwise uneventful day.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
How they spend it – EU member states are spending billions of euros less on climate action through the ETS than they could, according to a WWF analysis. Government reporting shows that of the €13.9 billion in EUA auction revenues in 2018, only a third – €4.6 billion – was not spent on climate actions like insulating homes or installing renewable energy. What’s more, WWF points out that allowances worth €11 billion were given out to polluters for free. “This makes almost €16 billion of missed money for climate action last year,” the group added. EU leaders will try and agree a net zero target 2050 on Thursday. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are requesting more climate transition money in return for their support; in response, the EU Commission will refer to a Just Transition mechanism when it presents the European Green Deal on Wednesday. WWF points out that those countries did not spend all their EUA revenues on climate action in 2018 (Czechia spent 63%, Hungary 29%, and Poland 51%). “What’s more, they spent some of their revenues in ways that harm a just transition to climate neutrality,” the group added. “Poland, for example, spent €13.5 million from 2016-8 on actions including building a biogas plant. Over the same time period, Hungary spent €4.6 million on replacing gas boilers. Gas is a fossil fuel and incompatible with a climate neutral EU.”
Denied on defraud – The New York attorney general did not prove that oil giant Exxon defrauded investors or misled them about climate risks to its business, New York Supreme Court Judge Barry Ostrager ruled Tuesday. Over the course of the widely-publicised three-week trial, the state of New York alleged that Exxon failed to disclose it used two different sets of numbers to assess climate risk, one for shareholders and the other for its own internal calculations. In a scathing decision, Ostrager ruled that the attorney failed to prove that Exxon’s disclosures misled investors, adding that a 2014 Managing the Risks which indicated that ExxonMobil applied a GHG cost “where appropriate” had no market impact and was “essentially ignored by the investment community.” (Climate Liability News)
Big on blue – US senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren released a “Blue New Deal” plan on Tuesday. The strategy would speed up offshore wind permitting, call on Congress to approve long-term extensions of renewable tax credits, and restore Obama-era bans on Arctic offshore drilling. Warren would also issue an executive order calling on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to bolster ocean carbon sequestration efforts. (Axios)
Awakening the nondelegation – How much authority should US federal agencies have in shaping regulations like the Clean Power Plan, and how much of that work should fall to Congress instead? Some legal experts say that question could become a focus for the Supreme Court’s conservative majority now that Justice Brett Kavanaugh has signaled interest in reconsidering the scope of agency powers. Court watchers say Kavanaugh’s addition to the bench could open the door to a revival of the long-dormant nondelegation doctrine, which prevents Congress from handing off policy decisions to federal agencies. The return of the doctrine, which the court has not used to scrap an agency rule since 1935, could pose a threat to GHG regulations, said UCLA law professor Ann Carlson. “The basic idea is that if Congress hasn’t specifically addressed a question, then for an agency to take up that question and regulate on it — particularly when there has been a relatively large passage of time since Congress spoke — it shouldn’t and can’t do so, at least in expansive ways,” Carlson said. Litigation over the repeal and replacement of the Clean Power Plan could test conservative interest in bringing the nondelegation doctrine back into play. (Energywire)
Look south – While in many industrialised countries the climate policy debate is focused on how fast GHGs should be reduced, things are moving in the opposite direction in the economically least developed countries. In the nearly 50 African states south of the Sahara, not including the newly industrialising economy of South Africa, new coal-fired power plants with an annual output of 100 Mt of CO2 could go into operation by 2025, according to the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC). This is equivalent to about 40% of what German coal-fired power plants currently emit, it added. This and more is included in a new study carried out by the Berlin-based MCC, which was recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
And finally… Food fears – Climate change could drive major weather changes, including increasing heatwaves, that could spark simultaneous failures of several different crops and increase the risk of a global food shortage, scientists say. A study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change examines how the jet stream affects crop production in multiple locations around the world, finding that certain patterns in the jet stream could increase the chances of concurrent heat waves in different areas by up to 20%. Traditionally, crop losses in one region are balanced out by a good harvest in another region, but researchers warn that these weather patterns may lead to global crop losses and raise food prices worldwide. (Climate Nexus)
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