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Austria’s new coalition government on Thursday unveiled a wide-ranging policy package that includes a domestic carbon price for non-EU ETS sectors and a higher climate levy for aviation, as the country strives for net zero emissions by 2040.
California regulator ARB doled out some 855,700 offsets in mid-December on a flurry of credits from ozone-depleting substance (ODS) projects, with the total number of California Carbon Offsets (CCOs) issued in 2019 having fallen by more than half compared to the previous year, according to state data published Dec. 24.
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices dipped on the secondary market after Christmas on thin volume, with RGGI Allowances (RGAs) remaining unchanged week-on-week ahead of New Jersey’s entrance into the scheme.
Fourteen entities opened Compliance Instrument Tracking System Service (CITSS) accounts in the California cap-and-trade programme during the fourth quarter as the total number climbed to 717, according to data released this week by state regulator ARB.
US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) biofuel credit prices retreated into the single digits over the past week, driven by several factors coalescing over the year end holiday period.
The Queensland state government has launched the first proper call for projects through its Land Restoration Fund, which aims to invest A$100 million ($70 mln) in new carbon offset projects in 2020.
Closing prices, ranges and volumes for China’s regional pilot carbon markets last week.
EUAs slipped on Thursday, the first trading day of 2020, to continue their post-Christmas slump as the return of auctions looms and the wider energy complex turned even more bearish.
Carbon Pulse is looking for a Climate and Energy Correspondent to help us bolster and expand our coverage of the EU ETS and other energy and environmental markets, as well as climate and energy policy at a national, EU, and international level.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Steady on – Bushfires have continued to ravage parts of Australia over the Christmas and New Year’s period, burning areas more than five times the size of the Amazon fires last year and killing an estimated 500 million animals. Pressure is mounting on the government to step its efforts to reduce GHG emissions, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison repeated Thursday that while there is a link between the fires and climate change, the ruling Coalition has no plans to put in place any new policies. The government will “make sure our policies remain sensible,” he said in a speech. (Guardian)
Not left behind – However, in New South Wales – the state that has taken the hardest hit from the fires – the government has asked its chief scientist to draw up a plan for radically decarbonising the economy, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. State Environment Minister Matt Kean says “economically rational, market-based solutions” are the best way to tackle GHG emissions, and a new suit of policies are expected to be announced some time this year.
One step closer – China took another step towards finalising its national emissions trading scheme by publishing accounting rules for CO2 permits. A number of other key documents are expected over the next few weeks, including a report from the financial regulatory authorities on futures trading, as well as on permit allocation. The market – poised to be the world’s largest – is expected to begin in the second half of this year.
Some in, some out – China’s Tianjin on Dec. 27 released the 2019 allocation plan for its municipal ETS, announcing that three new sectors would be covered – building materials, paper, and aviation – though flights would be restricted to those using the city airport. The changes were made to bring the ETS in line with plans for China’s national market. But as some previously covered facilities have merged or have been shut down amid the city’s struggling economy, the total number fell by one to 113. Tianjin published technical allocation rules, but did not say how many permits would actually be issued for 2019. (Tanjiaoyi)
Job done – Elsewhere, China’s Guangdong province last week boasted that it had met its five-year target of reducing carbon intensity 20.5% by the end of 2018, some two years early, according to Carbon Vision. Government officials said the provincial ETS was the key driver in achieving the necessary reductions.
Waive goodbye – The Indian government’s proposal to waive a carbon tax levied on coal is expected to bring down production costs for aluminium and steel producers who use the fuel, Bloomberg reports. The proposal, which aims to improve the financial health of power utilities and distribution companies, was put forth by the Prime Minister’s Office, according to a SteelMint report. Currently, a tax of INR 400 ($5.60) per tonne is levied on imports and production of coal.
Last-minute Christmas shopping – UK-listed Centrica PLC announced on Dec. 23 that it has agreed to sell its 382MW King’s Lynn combined cycle gas turbine power station to Germany’s RWE Generation for £105 mln. The British Gas parent company said the transaction, which forms part of its non-core asset disposal programme, is expected to complete in Q1 2020. The new King’s Lynn CCGT plant was commissioned on Nov. 18 following a major upgrade and boasts efficiency of 57%. The station has a 15-year capacity market agreement that starts in Oct. 2020. The acquisition brings RWE’s UK-based gas portfolio to 7.2 GW in capacity, making it one of the largest in the country. (Alliance News)
All aboard – The Canadian federal government on Wednesday imposed its ‘backstop’ C$20/tonne CO2 levy on Alberta, meaning all provinces and territories are now covered by an economy-wide carbon price. Ottawa’s move comes after Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) repealed the previous NDP government’s C$30 carbon tax in spring 2019, resulting in a seven-month period without a CO2 levy. The C$20 carbon charge, which will add roughly 4 cents/litre to the price of gasoline, will rise to C$30/tonne on Apr. 1 in line with the federal mandate. Alberta argued its case against the backstop in provincial court last month, and is expected to appeal any ruling in Ottawa’s favour to the Supreme Court of Canada. (Toronto Star)
Three’s company – Washington’s Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) has scheduled three additional public hearings and extended the comment period on the government office’s proposed low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS). The draft LCFS rule for the four-county region was given one public hearing in Seattle on Dec. 19, but the PSCAA has now scheduled further opportunities for input in Everett, Bremerton, and Tacoma in late January and early February. The public comment period was also lengthened to Feb. 10 from Jan. 6, with the PSCAA’s Board of Directors still expected to review submissions and discuss next steps at its Feb. 27 meeting.
Jail time – Franco-Israeli Michael Aknin has been sentenced by a French court to six years in prison for his involvement in an EU ETS carbon trading fraud valued at more than €50 million. Aknin was arrested in Israel in the summer of 2018 and extradited last August at the request of the French government. His accomplice, Stephane Alzraa, also a French-Israeli dual national, was sentenced by a Lyon court last July to nine years in prison for his role in the crime. (EN24)
Attention REDD nerds – The Jurisdictional and Nested REDD+ (JNR) Framework is part of Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) programme and provides guidance to governments to support the design, implementation, and integration of projects and programmes that conserve and enhance forests at national and sub-national levels and leverage carbon finance. One of the defining features of JNR is its ability to provide a pathway for individual projects and private investment to “nest” within national accounting frameworks, bringing much-needed finance and know how to address deforestation and forest degradation at scale. Verra is therefore actively advancing the development of new requirements and guidance for such REDD+ project nesting. Recognizing this, Verra seeks a consultant statistician with expertise in the development of jurisdictional reference levels and REDD+ project baselines, and in the alignment between jurisdictional and project-level accounting, to assess how uncertainty calculations and deductions can be undertaken in a more consistent, transparent, robust and practical way across scales. Click here to view the Request for Proposals for further details.
And finally… Investigate Compensate – Compensate, a carbon offsetting firm established by former Finnish Green Party MP Antero Vartia, is to be investigated by the police over possible breaches of fundraising laws, Yle.fi reports. The National Police Board requested the probe after Compensate’s founder asked the organisation’s board to rule on how his non-profit can operate its monthly subscription carbon offsetting service. Finnish law stipulates that fundraising requires a permit if donors do not receive anything in return for their money. The issue with monthly carbon offsetting contributions, then, is whether or not carbon offsetting is a genuine service or product. Vartia told Yle he was surprised by the investigation, as he had been in discussions with the board since September and had filed a fundraising permit application in early December. Compensate functions as a foundation, which in turn wholly owns a company that purchases carbon offsets. Users can calculate their carbon footprint and subscribe to pay a certain amount each month that Compensate promises to then spend on carbon offsets to mitigate climate change.
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