CP Daily: Friday February 14, 2020

Published 00:35 on February 15, 2020  /  Last updated at 00:45 on February 15, 2020  /  Newsletter  /  No Comments

A daily summary of our news plus bite-sized updates from around the world.

COMING FEB. 25: Carbon Fast Forward – Manchester

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TOP STORY

US airline Delta sets out $1 bn CO2 neutrality goal that minimises offsets use

US-based Delta Air Lines announced Friday that it will invest $1 billion to achieve carbon neutrality from its global business starting in March, but said it would limit its reliance on offsets in the long-run.

AMERICAS

Oregon advances WCI-modelled ETS bill with prolonged fuel sector phase-in

Oregon Senate Democrats passed the state’s controversial ETS legislation out of committee on Thursday evening after making further concessions to the carbon market’s fuel sector phase-in and other areas to appease critics.

Quebec aiming to finish compliance forestry protocol this summer

Quebec intends to finalise its forestry offset protocol for its WCI-linked cap-and-trade programme this summer and open the proposal up for public consultation, a government spokesperson told Carbon Pulse.

US Carbon Pricing Roundup for week ending Feb. 14, 2020

A summary of legislative and regulatory action on carbon pricing and clean energy at the US subnational and federal level this week, including developments in Pennsylvania, California, and Montana.

India’s cKinetics acquires carbon market data firm CaliforniaCarbon.info

Delhi-based sustainability advisory firm cKinetics has acquired carbon market news and data platform CaliforniaCarbon.info, Carbon Pulse has learned.

EMEA

ETS revenues set to bolster post-Brexit EU budget as leaders re-attempt deal

EU ETS auction revenues are almost certain to form part of the next EU budget after European Council President Charles Michel included them in preparations for next week’s testing talks among the bloc’s leaders.

EU Market: EUAs fade after hitting 2-week high, still notch 4.2% weekly rise

EUAs lifted to their highest so far this month early on Friday, but later faded to notch a 4.2% weekly gain amid healthy auction demand and optimism about China’s ability to tackle the Covid-19 coronavirus.

ASIA PACIFIC

NZ Market: NZUs extend losses as profit-taking, panic-selling continue

New Zealand carbon allowances suffered their fifth consecutive day of losses on Friday, as the spread between the fixed price option and current spot prices continued to tempt emitters to offload NZUs.

CN Markets: Pilot market data for week ending Feb. 14, 2020

Closing prices, ranges and volumes for China’s regional pilot carbon markets this week.

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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Ostracised Ostroleka –  Polish state-run utilities Energa and Enea have frozen financing of their $1.5 bln Ostroleka 1GW coal power unit, citing difficulties raising funds due to environmental concerns. Construction has already started for the facility due in 2023, but the companies had not secured full financing as banks have shied away, even as state-run oil refiner Orlen announced plans to take over Energa and signalled that it may opt to replace coal with less carbon-heavy gas as a fuel source. (Reuters)

Now hiring – Greenpeace activist Pawel Szypulski is applying for the chief executive job at Poland’s biggest utility PGE, with a plan to eliminate coal from the group’s power production by 2030, Reuters reports. State-run PGE generates mostly from burning lignite and hard coal. The group plans to invest more in renewables, mostly in offshore wind, but Szypulski says this is not enough. He added that PGE should intensify investment in renewables as burning coal weighs on its financial results amid rising carbon emission costs. Szypulski said his first decisions as CEO would be to scrap the company’s plan to invest in a new lignite deposit in Zloczew and to prepare a detailed scheme for a phaseout of coal by 2030. The deadline for applying for the job was Friday.

Rhine time – Eight European nations have agreed on a programme to make the river Rhine and its tributaries more climate-resilient. Germany, France, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, and the Belgian region of Wallonia plan steps to reduce the risk of floods and mitigate the impact of extremely low water levels, Germany’s environment ministry said in a press release. “With the new ‘Rhine 2040’ programme, the Rhine ministers are facing up to the effects of climate change,” added German environment minister Svenja Schulze. “The drought year 2018 was a clear warning of what we could be facing in the coming years. The availability of water is changing throughout the Rhine catchment area. Temperatures are rising. Only together can we meet these challenges.”  The Rhine is a major artery for coal shipments needed by countless plants that operate near its banks. (Clean Energy Wire)

Royal Bank of Stop-land – The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will stop lending to energy companies that fail to align with the Paris Agreement goals by 2021 as part of a corporate overhaul that will result in the entire bank being renamed NatWest. The bank will stop lending and offering underwriting services to major oil and gas producers that do not have credible transition plan to help limit global heating to below 2C. It will also stop those services to companies with more than 15% of their activities related to coal unless they have similar plans prepared. (Carbon Brief)

Coal case – A Utah lawmaker is pressing the state to file a federal suit to overturn a San Francisco Bay Area city’s recently enacted ban on the handling of coal, which could effectively cut off the Beehive State’s largest coal producer from its Asian customers. Calling Richmond, California’s ordinance “a slander on Utah”, State Senator David Hinkins (R) made the request this week before the Utah Legislature’s Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. Hinkins is seeking a $500,000 appropriation to bankroll the suit, though he acknowledged a tight budget this year means his proposal likely won’t make the cut. Separately, Utah legislators have teed up $1.65 mln to challenge the legality of California’s cap-and-trade programme, and are awaiting the finalisation of the state’s budget this year to mobilise those funds. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Getting guidance – The US EPA is seeking White House guidance on the future of its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance waiver programme after a court ruling cast doubt over its legitimacy, and intends to announce a decision by early next month, Reuters reports. The US Court of Appeals for the 10th District said the EPA must reconsider some waivers it gave oil refineries exempting them from the nation’s biofuel blending laws, leading some to speculate that the agency will need to reconsider dozens of other small refinery exemptions it granted under similar circumstances. The EPA will announce a response to the decision by Mar. 9 after consultations with the White House, an anonymous source told the news outlet. The potentially significant impact of the EPA’s decision on the RFS has sent biofuel credit prices to year-highs. (See Carbon Pulse’s recent article on the topic here)

Changes afoot – Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister teased there could be changes coming to the carbon tax in the province, pointing to an announcement next week. Pallister said he’s had discussions with Ottawa about enhacing Manitoba’s plan, telling reporters “absolutely there are amendments which I will share with you in more detail next week.” Manitoba abandoned efforts to reach a deal in 2018 after Ottawa refused to sign off on the province’s plan to maintain a $25/t carbon tax. The federal plan calls for the levy to increase to $50 by 2022. Pallister said he has been negotiating with Ottawa since last October’s federal election, specifically on that point, and he raised it with PM Justin Trudeau during their meeting in January when the Liberal caucus held their retreat in Winnipeg. (Winnipeg Sun)

RIP RKP – The Indian environmentalist Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, under whose leadership a UN climate change panel shared the 2007 Nobel peace prize, has died after recent heart surgery. He was 79. Pachauri’s death was announced late on Thursday by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a research group he headed until 2016 in New Delhi. He chaired the IPCC from 2002 until he resigned in 2015 after an employee at his research firm accused him of sexual harassment. (AP)

And finally… Summertime blues – The Trump administration’s years-long process to roll back US vehicle GHG standards set during President Obama’s tenure is nowhere near complete and may not be ready until the summer, The New York Times reports ($). In January, administration staff members appointed by President Trump sent a draft of the scaled-back fuel economy standards to the White House, but six people familiar with the documents described them as “Swiss cheese”, sprinkled with glaring numerical and spelling errors (such as “Massachusettes”), and with 111 sections marked “text forthcoming”. Separately, extensive interviews with key participants and a review of emails and documents by The Atlantic reveal how the Trump administration based its rollback on flawed math. For two years, rival bureaucrats at the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and overworked Trump political appointees stonewalled the EPA team, blocked it from learning of the rollback, and prevented it from seeing analysis of the new rule. When the EPA engineers finally saw the flawed study and identified some of its worst errors, the same Trump officials ignored them.

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