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The European Commission could delay its work on analysing the effects of deepening the bloc’s 2030 emission goal if it can’t fully assess the impact of coronavirus shutdowns, its climate chief Frans Timmermans said on Tuesday.
China should pick a new growth strategy with decarbonisation at its centre as the country puts together its next five-year plan in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, according to two reports released Wednesday, just as industry pressure is building on Beijing to scale back on environmental efforts.
South Korea on Tuesday announced a number of amendments to its emissions trading scheme ahead of the start of the third trading period in 2021, including one letting financial institutions and securities companies participate in the market.
EUAs plunged below €20 on Tuesday, sliding further from last week’s one-month peak as wider financial markets were rattled by sub-zero US oil prices and other bearish factors overnight.
EU member states and the UK handed out over 25 million additional free carbon allowances to industrial emitters in the fortnight to last Friday, according to updated data from the European Commission, with a calculation error slashing the reported maximum allocation figure by almost 100 million tonnes.
South Africa’s president on Tuesday announced a three-month delay to the deadline for the first payments due under the country’s carbon tax, as part of a wider package of financial measures to help companies cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked a federal judge to find California’s ETS linkage with Quebec illegal because it conflicts with the government’s position on climate change and limits President Donald Trump’s leverage, while it also sought to dismiss its remaining challenge against the cross-border scheme, according to court documents filed Monday.
US biofuel credit prices receded Tuesday as a major oil industry trade group requested the EPA change biofuel quotas under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) due to a recent court ruling.
BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
IRENA answers – Renewable energy could power an economic recovery from COVID-19 that would deliver global GDP gains of $98 trillion above a business-as-usual scenario by 2050, returning between $3 and $8 on every dollar invested, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). It would also quadruple the number of jobs in the sector and curb the rise in global temperatures by helping to reduce the energy industry’s CO2 emissions by 70% by 2050 through replacing fossil fuels. (The Guardian)
Up in smoke – Australia’s massive bushfires this summer caused 830 MtCO2e of GHG emissions, according to preliminary government estimates. While that equals around 18 months of carbon output from Australia’s economic activities, the report said it will have negligible impact on the country’s path to meeting its Paris Agreement target, as the forest will likely recapture most of the carbon when it grows back.
Oil upside – Plummeting oil prices could open up major opportunities to accelerate the shift to net zero emissions, according to Chris Stark, CEO of the UK’s advisory Committee on Climate Change. He said oil majors were now more likely to consider renewables deals offering 6% returns that were previously spurned when fossil projects appeared to offer returns of above 20%. Stark added that low fuel prices also made it “quite a good time to introduce a tax on fossil fuels”. (BusinessGreen)
Sweden’s out – Sweden has become the third EU country, joining Austria and Belgium, to complete its phase out of coal power after last week confirming the closure of Stockholm Exergi AB’s Vartaverket cogeneration plant. Six more European countries are expected to complete phase outs by 2025 – France, Slovakia, Portugal, the UK, Ireland, and Italy. (EurActiv)
Kindles to carbon markets – Tech and shipping giant Amazon on Tuesday announced that it’s putting $10 mln into restoring or conserving 4 mln acres (1.6 mln hectares) of forest as part of its goal to become carbon-negative within the next 20 years, with an initial focus on carbon markets. In collaboration with green group The Nature Conservancy and conservation organisations American Forest Foundation and Vermont Land Trust, Amazon will partner on two projects to open up carbon offset markets to small- and mid-size forest owners across the US Appalachians and elsewhere. Amazon said these programmes will help achieve a net reduction of up to 18.5 Mt by 2031.
Closer with CPUC – A California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) administrative law judge issued a proposed decision Monday that would approve Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) bankruptcy reorganisation plan, paving the way for the utility to exit Chapter 11 proceedings by June 30. A separate proposal from CPUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen, issued the same day, would also require PG&E to pay penalties of more than $1.9 bln related to Northern California wildfires that were sparked by the utility’s power lines. The commission is set to vote on approving PG&E’s bankruptcy plan on May 21, with the utility aiming to exit bankruptcy by June 30 in order to access California’s wildfire insurance fund, created by the state legislature last year. (Utility Dive)
Conservative climate contract – The American Conservation Coalition, a group that advocates for conservative environmental policies, launched what it’s calling “the American Climate Contract” on Tuesday. The measure calls for the development of innovative energy technologies, infrastructure modernisation, natural solutions to store carbon like wetland restoration and forest management, and engaging with global partners to “fully address” the threat of climate change and move toward global net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The contract has earned support from groups like Students for Trump and the American Public Gas Association. (Politico)
See you in court – Greenpeace is taking the fight against Arctic oil drilling to Norway’s supreme court, after two lower courts rejected calls for a ban. Together with Nature & Youth, the Norwegian branch of Friends of the Earth, the campaign group has been arguing since 2016 that Arctic oil drilling breaches the constitutional right to a healthy environment for future generations. A district court and then an appeals court upheld the government’s right to award oil exploration licences in the Barents Sea. Undeterred, with fresh backing from Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, the campaigners have secured a hearing in the supreme court. (Climate Home)
And finally… Guitar hero – Music gear marketplace Reverb made an Earth Day announcement that it will offset 100% of its shipping-related emissions. Beginning Tuesday, all purchases made through Reverb will be balanced out with an investment to conservation projects in Brazil, Peru, and Minnesota that protect forests known for producing wood used in musical instruments. Reverb’s parent company Etsy last year pledged to neutralise all its shipping emissions, and has offset 173,000 tonnes of CO2 so far. (Guitar.com)
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