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A federal judge on Thursday turned down a California petition to delay the timeline for a US Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit challenging the state’s cap-and-trade linkage with Quebec, setting up a critical hearing next month.
CARBON FAST FORWARD
Last month’s Brexit climax finally brought long-sought answers for British emitters on their EU ETS obligations, though navigating the way ahead presents several challenges for companies managing their carbon and energy risk.
Switzerland’s carbon credit procurement agency received 25 submissions under its second call for proposals from developers hoping to sell emission units to the country under the Paris Agreement’s Article 6.
The Oregon Clean Fuels Program (OCFP) recorded its largest ever credit generation total during the third quarter of 2019 on a torrent of renewable diesel, state data released on Thursday showed.
A summary of legislative and regulatory action on carbon pricing and clean energy at the US subnational and federal level taken this week, including developments in Washington, Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island.
EUAs dipped on Friday to notch a 2.3% weekly loss as poor industrial data and a weak energy complex dampened bullish sentiment.
Australian offset project developers delivered almost 660,000 credits to the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) over January, taking the fund’s total generation above 50 MtCO2e since its first auction in Apr. 2015.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Silver lining – If there’s a silver lining to the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China, it’s that the world’s biggest polluter is spewing less carbon, at least for now. Quarantines and extended holidays have idled cars and airplanes and shuttered coal mines and steel mills, some of the biggest contributors to the greenhouse gases that drive global warming. That’s going to drive a reduction in emissions early in the year, although whether it’s enough to deliver a year-on-year drop depends on how long economic activity remains depressed and what kind of stimulus measures the government enacts once the outbreak is contained. China was the world’s leading carbon emitter last year, pumping more than 9.4 billion tonnes into the atmosphere from burning fuels – more than the US and EU combined – according to BP. While it’s too early to figure out the extent of the near-term reduction, the drop in energy use has been sudden and sharp, Bloomberg reports.
Russian front – In a sign that Moscow has taken note of the EU’s 2021 plan to deploy a carbon border tax, a top Kremlin adviser has urged Russia’s business giants to start adapting now if they want to continue selling their wares in the single market. Vladimir Putin’s climate adviser Ruslan Edelgeriev has urged Russia’s businesses to prepare for life with the border tax, adding that any businesses unwilling to adapt now would face difficulties once the tax is up and running. He said he favours regulation “because if we don’t do it, we will be shut out of external markets”. (EurActiv)
Good graces – Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund will be able to invest again in British power firm Drax as the firm has cut its use of coal in producing electricity, the central bank said on Thursday. Drax had been excluded from the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund after Norway passed a law in 2015 banning the fund from investing in companies that derive more than 30% of their revenues or activities from coal. “The company has undergone significant restructuring, with a transition from coal to biomass as fuel,” the central bank said in a statement. (Reuters)
Department drop – The US Department of Justice has dropped its antitrust inquiry into four automakers that had sided with California in its dispute with the Trump administration over weakening vehicle emission standards, deciding that the companies had violated no laws, The New York Times reports. In July, Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, and Honda announced that they had reached an agreement in principle with California on emissions standards that would be stricter than those being sought by the White House. After the Trump administration labelled the move a “PR stunt”, the DOJ then opened an investigation into whether the four automakers violated federal antitrust laws by reaching their deal with California, on the grounds that the agreement could potentially limit consumer choice.
Fixed on six – US House Republicans are pushing for a six-year extension of existing ‘45Q’ tax credits for power plants and oil and gas operations that capture and store CO2. However, the extension is only likely to see the light of day if balanced with clean energy incentives sought by Democrats, who control the House but also hold filibuster power in the Senate. For now, House Democrats are looking at a more modest one-year extension. The tax credit was expanded two years ago and is set to expire by the end of 2023, but it hasn’t spurred a rapid escalation in new CCS projects because investors have been waiting nearly two years for the Internal Revenue Service to issue guidelines to help determine if projects are eligible. (Bloomberg Environment)
Clean team – Meanwhile, US Representatives David McKinley (R) and Kurt Schrader (D) are collaborating on a compromise climate bill they hope can win bipartisan support in both chambers. The framework they discussed with reporters on Thursday would establish a 10-year window for power companies to do research and development into clean energy technologies, most notably carbon capture, followed by a strict clean energy standard. The goal would be to have an 80% reduction in emissions by 2040. (Politico)
Born on the 1st of July – The revised California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) rulemaking package released by state regulator ARB this week is currently on schedule to take effect July 1, the agency said in a guidance document Friday. That means the clean fuel programme’s pending price cap, contained within the amendment package, wouldn’t take effect until a month later than previously planned, with the ARB having recently targeted a June 1 start date for the maximum price provision.
T-shirt weather for penguins – Antarctica has logged its hottest temperature on record, with an Argentinian research station thermometer reading 18.3C, beating the previous record by 0.8C. The reading, taken at Esperanza on the northern tip of the continent’s peninsula, beats Antarctica’s previous record of 17.5C, set in March 2015. A tweet from Argentina’s meteorological agency on Friday revealed the record. The station’s data goes back to 1961. (Guardian)
And finally… A penchant for pee – An unexpected attraction to urine is putting the common sugar ant on the map, as new research from the University of South Australia shows their taste for it could play a role in reducing GHGs. Led by wildlife ecologist Associate Professor Topa Petit, the Kangaroo Island-based research found that sugar ants prefer urine over sugar – the food source after which they’re named – nocturnally foraging on it to extract nitrogen molecules, some of which could end up in the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. “This remarkable ability to extract urea from dry sand not only shows how sugar ants can survive in arid conditions, but also, how they might reduce the release of ammonia from urine, which leads to the production of nitrous oxide, a highly active greenhouse gas,” Petit said. Nitrous oxide (NO2) is a GHG 300 times more potent than CO2. And while less abundant than CO2 emissions, its presence in the atmosphere has increased substantially over the past decade, accelerated mostly by the widespread use of fertilisers. (Newswise)
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