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The US Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) will aim to cut fuel sector emissions by as much a quarter over a 10-year period, while implementing a variety of mechanisms borrowed from the RGGI power sector carbon market, according to a draft Memorandum of Understand (MOU) released Tuesday.
European carbon prices jumped on Tuesday as the year-end auction pause began, with technical buying building on yesterday’s big gains.
Errors in the Clean Energy Regulator data released last week wrongly suggested some big emitters had had their CO2 caps backdated to 2016, including some that had used carbon credit to meet their targets for that year, according to an agency spokesperson.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Green label – EU lawmakers approved an accord on a taxonomy list of sustainable activities late Monday, paving the way for the landmark green finance regulation to advance a push to embed environmental goals in standards for banks, money managers, and insurers. Nuclear energy proponents including France had been seeking revisions to an earlier version and now means that both nuclear and gas could under certain conditions make the list if they pass a ‘no harm’ test. The concrete list of activities will be drawn up based on recommendations by a panel of experts and adopted by the European Commission. (Bloomberg)
Coal dip – Global coal demand has fallen for the first time in two years despite growth in Asia, largely due to the EU and US turning their back on coal in favour of renewables and cheap gas, according to an IEA report. This year’s dip in demand was also driven by high growth in hydropower and relatively low electricity demand in India and China. Demand is expected to remain stable for the next few years as reductions in the EU and the US are offset by growth in China, India and Southeast Asia. (The Guardian)
More time – A federal judge on Monday night granted California’s request for more time to respond to the Trump administration’s lawsuit seeking to kill its carbon trading scheme link with Quebec, Politico reports. The federal government last week asked that the court hold a hearing on its major constitutional arguments as early as Jan. 13, but California asked for more time, arguing that there was no reason to rush the case. Judge William Shubb of the US District Court for Eastern California – a George H.W. Bush appointee – last night sided with California on the timing. The state has until Feb. 10 to respond to the Trump administration’s motion seeking summary judgment, a filing that will lay out the state’s defense. Shubb will hold a hearing on the matter on Feb. 24.
Windy state – New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) hit a new wind power record over the weekend as the state’s grid used 1,675 MW on Saturday evening, or roughly 11% of all electricity generated. That eclipsed the previous high of 1,651 MW in Apr. 2019. NYISO has been exploring ways to increase the development and use of renewable energy in the Empire State. Those efforts have primarily centred on a carbon pricing mechanism in the wholesale power market.
Make them pay – The Australia Institute think-tank has proposed to introduce a levy of A$1 ($0.69) per tonne of CO2e from the country’s domestic oil, coal, and gas industry, AAP reports. Researchers said that would raise around A$1.5 bln per year that could go towards a national disaster fund to help pay for the escalating costs of climate change-induced damage, which is currently estimated at around A$13 bln/year and rising. The proposal has gained support from a number of mayors across New South Wales, where unprecedented bushfires have wreaked havoc over the past month. However, it would seem doubtful the proposal stands a chance with the federal government, which is adamantly opposing any additional costs on the fossil fuel sector.
Suffering – Also in Australia, the agriculture department has estimated climate change has reduced the average annual profitability of farms by 22% or A$18,600 since 2000. Total revenue of the country’s cropping farms have gone by A$1.1 bln/year over the period, according to the Guardian. That comes as the government last month said the ongoing drought and last year’s Queensland floods had hurt agricultural output so much it caused the nation’s annual GHG emissions to fall for the first time since 2015.
More of the same – The New Zealand EPA on Tuesday approved an application from Austrian-owned oil and gas producer OMV to drill for oil and gas resources in up to 10 exploration and appraisal wells in the country’s Great South Basin. The NZ government last year banned new offshore exploration permits, but that did not cover existing permits, one of which OMV received for the relevant areas in 2007. The EPA decision sparked anger among green groups, with Greenpeace saying it was “deeply hypocritical” coming just days after New Zealand had portrayed itself as global climate champions at COP25 in Madrid.
Slow growing – According to IATA’s latest half-yearly industry outlook, the rate of growth in carbon emissions will have slowed in 2019 as a result of lower growth in capacity and improvements in fuel efficiency. Fuel consumption and carbon emissions from the global fleet have in recent years risen at rates above 5% per year, but carbon emissions in 2019 are estimated by IATA at 915 Mt compared with 905 Mt in 2018, a rise of 1.1%. Fuel use in 2019 is expected to top 363 billion litres. (GreenAir Online)
And finally… A team of researchers at the University of Ottawa is closing in on a new carbon capture technology capable of absorbing industrial emissions before they hit the atmosphere, at a per-tonne price well below current CCUS costs and even less than some regional carbon tax rates. Chemistry professor Tom Woo led the research into materials that can more effectively capture CO2 than the current methods that include bubbling the exhaust through water containing special materials that attach themselves to the GHGs, which then requires the water to be boiled off to isolate the CO2. Woo’s research team looked for different materials that would bind themselves to CO2 but not the water. They developed an algorithm that generated more than 330,000 hypothetical materials, and they simulated how each interacted with gases to determine the best for capturing CO2. They then worked with scientists in Switzerland to identify potential materials that contain the same atomic features and synthesise them. The Swiss researchers successfully produced and tested the new materials using wet flue gases. (CBC)
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