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German utility Uniper will “lead by example” and voluntarily shut down a total 2.9 GW in hard coal-fired power generation capacity by 2025, it announced on Thursday, with the company forgoing any compensation as it presses ahead with opening a major new 1.1GW plant.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) published draft power sector cap-and-trade regulations on Thursday that mirror the post-2020 RGGI Model Rule, but the proposal includes language to implement a bank adjustment after every compliance period.
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices rose this week as greater demand for permits countered recent losses, while RGGI Allowances (RGAs) dropped amid a second consecutive week of lacklustre activity.
California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credit values neared the programme’s pending ceiling price on Wednesday, while Washington state representatives approved their own clean fuel standard proposal for the second consecutive year.
NZUs on Thursday fell to their lowest level since the government’s pre-Christmas announcement that the market’s de-facto price ceiling would be increased to NZ$35 from the 2020 compliance year.
EUAs fell to a two-month low below €24 early on Thursday despite an improved auction performance, as markets continued to be weighed down by fears about the impacts of the spreading coronavirus.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Taking a stand – A vast majority of Japanese companies are against the government’s support of coal-fired power generation, according to a Reuters poll. As many as 62% of participating firms in the survey said Japan should curb its plans to build more coal-fired power plants even if it would hurt financially, while 20% said those plans should be ditched altogether. Even though nearly a dozen projects have been cancelled over the past couple of years over concerns they would not be economically viable, Japan still has around 30 coal plants under construction or in the planning process.
Emergencies and exports – US Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is considering a series of executive orders if elected in November, including declaring climate change a national emergency and banning the exportation of crude oil, according to an internal campaign document reviewed by The Washington Post. The senator is reviewing the list of possible executive orders but has not signed off on when they would be released or their scope, according to the two people with knowledge of the planning who spoke on condition of anonymity. Sanders has risen in national and early-state polling in the final days before Monday’s Iowa caucuses, the first contest in the Democratic presidential primary.
Projection reflection – Renewables will overtake natural gas as the largest energy source in the US in roughly 15 years, according to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook released Wednesday. That is a reversal from last year’s version, which projected that in 2050 natural gas would still be the biggest power source with a 39% share and renewables at 31%. However, the EIA’s “reference” case assumes a static policy landscape going forward, while renewables growth has outpaced EIA projections for many years.As well, the EIA predicts that US carbon emissions will fall by just 4% by 2050 compared to 2019 levels, The Hill reports. (Axios)
State slate – G20 nations are funnelling cash through government-backed export credit agencies to provide $30 billion to fossil fuel projects each year that “run counter to the Paris Agreement”, a new analysis from NGO’s Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth America showed. These currently provide more than 10 times more state-backed finance to oil, gas, and coal projects abroad than they do to renewable energy schemes, the analysis said, with China, Japan, South Korea, and Canada among the worst offenders. (AFP)
Keen in Kiev – Ukraine has released its “Concept of Green Energy Transition until 2050“, based on three pillars: ensuring energy security, ensuring sustainable energy production and consumption, and reaching climate neutrality by 2070. The country will seek to decarbonise its economy, mainly through energy efficiency measures and through the development of renewable power generation. By 2050, renewables should cover 70% of the power mix, with a significant part (15%) from solar rooftop installations, and decentralised power supply should increase noticeably. In contrast, wind and solar accounted for less than 2% of the power mix in 2018. Raising the share of renewables in power supply is expected to reduce the share of extractive industries in the Ukrainian economy, to reduce its dependence on gas imports, and to reduce transportation losses on the gas, electricity, and heat networks (that are ageing and need to be modernised). Coal-fired power plants should be replaced by 2050 by wind, solar, biomass-fired and gas-fired power plants. Cogeneration will be encouraged, along with energy storage and CCS technologies where it is economically feasible. Ukraine will seek to reduce the share of nuclear generation from an average 50% to 20-25%, even if new Small Modular Reactors could be built, and will maintain the share of hydropower at its current level around 6%. The long-term energy strategy also aims at building modern energy markets and integrating them with those of the EU. (Enerdata)
Gas halt – UK utility Drax has been forced to pause plans to build Europe’s biggest gas plant at its northern England site following legal action by NGO ClientEarth. The approval of the plans by the UK government has been challenged in the High Court, with an in-house lawyer for ClientEarth arguing that it is “at odds with the government’s own climate change plans to decarbonise in a cost-effective manner”. (The Guardian)
Hands-off holiness – The Church of England pension board has launched a “passive index” onto the London Stock Exchange, which will be aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The church’s endowment and investment funds will invest an initial £600 mln in the FTSE TPI Climate Transition Index and plan to sell shares in “fossil fuel companies that are slow to respond to global warming” starting in 2023. (Financial Times)
Stolen credit – The vice president of Britain’s National Farmers’ Union Stuart Roberts has warned members risk having their carbon credits ‘stolen’ by processors and retailers as the country moves towards its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. The union leader claimed there was huge potential for farmers to make money helping other industries to offset their carbon emissions, but unless primary producers took ownership of sequestration value, the benefits could be ‘stolen’ by other parts of the supply chain. “I have a really big worry that if we are not clever about putting a value on what carbon is, we will simply end up with other bits of our supply chain stealing our carbon credits,” he said. “You will end up with processors and retailers claiming they are carbon-neutral because the cattle which go through their processing site or their retail site are grazing on land which is a carbon store. We have to make sure we have ownership of that carbon, of that credit and value, and that we can maximise it.” Meanwhile, NFU horticulture board chair Ali Capper has called on the UK government to provide support for farmers to measure and monitor their carbon footprint. (Farmers Guardian)
You ain’t seen nothing yet – The latest predictions suggest Earth’s global average temperature is likely to reach record warmth during the five-year period from 2020 to 2024. The current warmest year on record is 2016, but the latest forecast based on the British Met Office’s computer models suggest a new annual record is likely within the next five years. Individual years from 2020 to 2024 are predicted to be between 1.06C and 1.62C above pre-industrial conditions, and it is ‘likely’ the current record – of 1.16C, set in 2016 – will be beaten. Considering the coming five-year period as a whole, average temperatures are expected to be between 1.15C and 1.46C above pre-industrial levels. This compares to the last five years (2015-19), which showed mean warming of 1.09C and was the warmest five-year period on record.
Febmonton – The Alberta Ministry of Environment and Parks (AEP) will host two workshops in Edmonton on Feb. 19 to discuss the province’s large emitter programme. The first workshop will deal with 2019 compliance for the outgoing Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation (CCIR) and requirements under the Specified Gas Reporting Regulation. The second will provide an update on Alberta’s Emissions Offset System.
And finally… Not a Turkish delight – Up to 90% of the millions of saplings planted in Turkey as part of a record-breaking mass planting project may have died after just a few months, according to the country’s agriculture and forestry trade union. On Nov. 11 last year, which the government declared National Forestation Day, 11 million trees were planted by volunteers in more than 2,000 sites across the country, including by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and parliamentary speaker Mustafa Sentop. The head of the union said 90% of the saplings his teams have inspected so far died because of insufficient water, while he also attributed the deaths to the saplings being planted at “the wrong time” and “not by experts”. The ministry of agriculture and forestry denied the claim, saying that 95% of the saplings were on track. (The Guardian)
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