UK urged to commit to carbon tax

  • Spanish Market: Emissions
  • 01/12/20

A UK carbon tax is the "best-case scenario" for a carbon pricing regime in the country for next year, given the lack of time remaining in which to implement an EU-linked UK emissions trading system (ETS), environmental think-tank Ember said.

The UK leaves the EU ETS on 31 December at the end of the Brexit transition period. The government has yet to confirm whether it will establish a UK ETS — either linked back to the EU's system or operating as a standalone mechanism — or institute a carbon tax as a replacement.

But with just one month remaining, putting in place a UK ETS linked back to the EU's system is "impossible" by 1 January, Ember said. A carbon tax, therefore, is now the "least worst option".

A tax would be relatively simple to implement and provide price stability during the Brexit process, as well as establish a link between the carbon price of the two systems, Ember said. If enforced in 2021-22, a carbon tax would be based, according to government proposals, on the average price for the EU ETS December 2021 and December 2022 contracts.

A standalone UK ETS, on the other hand, is "risky and highly complex", Ember said, citing concerns that plans to set an allowance supply cap well above actual emissions could lead to permit oversupply and, consequently, inappropriately low carbon prices.

While a proposed price floor of just £15/t of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) — compared with an average closing price of roughly £24/t CO2e for the benchmark front-year EU ETS contract last month — would be an "international embarrassment for the UK's commitment to climate action", it said.

More can be done to shore up current carbon tax plans, such as setting up an independent panel to determine the tax rate and applicable sectors. Its scope could be extended to include areas such as fugitive methane emissions from the production and transport of fossil fuel, and the carbon price exemption for biomass removed.

A carbon border adjustment should also be introduced, Ember said, and concrete plans made to link carbon pricing with the UK's legally binding target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The government should still consider setting up an EU-linked UK ETS in the future, the think-tank said, to provide the advantages of participating in a larger carbon market.

"It is long past time for the government to make a decision and allow businesses and investors to begin to plan for the new carbon pricing system," Ember said.

Business, energy and clean growth minister Kwasi Kwarteng indicated last month that the government is unlikely to clarify its position on plans for a carbon pricing regime in the country until after Brexit trade deal negotiations are concluded.

A number of groups have raised concerns over the feasibility of a standalone UK ETS. European power industry association Eurelectric said earlier this year that the system could face liquidity issues, while UK think-tank Policy Exchange warned of its vulnerability to volatility.

But carbon tax plans have also drawn criticism. The International Emissions Trading Association earlier this year said a carbon tax represents a "big gamble" for the achievement of the UK's climate neutrality target.


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20/05/24

Japan’s FEPC calls for clearer nuclear policy stance

Japan’s FEPC calls for clearer nuclear policy stance

Osaka, 20 May (Argus) — Japan's Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC) has called for a clarification of the country's nuclear power policy, to ensure stable electricity supply and alignment with its net zero emissions goal. The call comes as the government reviews its basic energy policy , which was formulated in 2021 and calls for the reduction of dependence on nuclear reactors as much as possible. But Japan's guidelines for green transformation, which was agreed in February 2023, states that Japan should make the most of existing nuclear reactors. Tokyo should clearly state in its new energy policy that it is necessary to not only restart existing nuclear reactors, but also build new reactors, said FEPC chairman Kingo Hayashi on 17 May. Hayashi is also the president of utility Chubu Electric Power. Hayashi emphasised that to utilise reactors, it would be necessary to have discussions regarding financial support, policy measures that would help ensure cost recovery, address back-end issues in the nuclear fuel cycle and conduct a review of nuclear damage compensation law. Japan's current basic energy policy is targeted for the April 2030-March 2031 fiscal year, when the country's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is forecast to fall by 46pc from 2013-14 levels. To achieve this, the power mix in the policy set the nuclear ratio at 20-22pc, as well as 36-38pc from renewables, 41pc from thermal fuels and 1pc from hydrogen and ammonia. Japan typically reviews the country's basic energy policy every three years. Nuclear, as well as renewables, would be necessary to reduce Japan's GHG emissions, although thermal power units would still play a key role in addressing power shortages. But Japan has faced challenges in restarting the country's reactors following safety concerns after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, with only 12 reactors currently operational. Japan's nuclear generation in 2023 totalled 77TWh, which accounted for just 9pc of total power output. Tokyo has made efforts to promote the use of reactors, after the current basic energy policy was introduced in 2021. The trade and industry ministry (Meti) has updated its nuclear policy, by allowing nuclear power operators to continue using reactors beyond their maximum lifespan of 60 years by excluding a safety scrutiny period in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. This could advance the discussion on Japan's nuclear stance, especially if the new basic energy policy includes more supportive regulations. The trade and industry ministry started discussions to review the energy policy on 15 May, aiming to revise it by the end of this fiscal year. It is still unclear what year it is targeting and what ratio will be set for each power source in the new policy. But the deliberation would form a key part of efforts to update the GHG emissions reduction goal, ahead of the submission of the country's new nationally determined contribution in 2025, with a timeframe for implementation until 2035. By Motoko Hasegawa Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

EBRD ‘green project’ funding hit €6.54bn in 2023


15/05/24
15/05/24

EBRD ‘green project’ funding hit €6.54bn in 2023

London, 15 May (Argus) — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) hit a record level of investments in the "green economy" in 2023, at €6.54bn ($7.1bn) in 337 projects — up from €6.36bn in 2022. The multilateral development bank (MDB) again reached its target for at least 50pc of its total annual investment to go towards green projects. Of total investments, 50pc went to green projects — flat on the year. The EBRD initially set the goal for 2025, but hit it in 2021, with 51pc of its investment going to green projects. The EBRD's investments stood at €13.1bn in 2023 — a new record high — going towards 464 individual projects. The bank has since the beginning of 2023 ensured that all new investment projects are in line with the Paris climate agreement goals. The Paris agreement seeks to limit the rise in temperature to "well below" 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and preferably to 1.5°C. Countries' focus on MDBs and their role in delivering climate finance has intensified in recent years. Climate finance is set to dominate climate talks this year, including at the UN Cop 29 summit, set for November in Baku, Azerbaijan. Mukhtar Babayev, Cop president-designate, last month called on MDBs and parties to the Cop process to deliver on climate finance. The EBRD is owned by 73 shareholder governments, the EU and the European Investment Bank. By Georgia Gratton Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

US court upholds RFS blending targets for 2020-22


14/05/24
14/05/24

US court upholds RFS blending targets for 2020-22

Washington, 14 May (Argus) — A federal appeals court has affirmed biofuel blending requirements for 2020-22 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), rejecting lawsuits from refineries and renewable fuel producers challenging the standards. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted within its authority in the rule when it revised the biofuel blending targets to account for small refinery exemptions it expected it would award in the future, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit said today in a 2-1 ruling. The court rejected a complaint by refineries that argued EPA could only revise the annual biofuel blending targets based on exemptions it had already approved in the past. "The statute does not confine EPA to the Refiner Petitioners' preferred method of accounting for small refinery exemptions," DC Circuit judge Cornelia Pillard wrote on behalf of the majority. "EPA's choice to account for them both retrospectively and prospectively is not arbitrary or capricious." The ruling leaves intact a 2022 rule that required renewable fuel blending to increase to 20.63bn USG by 2022, up from 17.13bn USG in 2020. For the first time under the RFS, the rule used a new formula that tried to avoid a recurrent issue under which EPA failed to account for upcoming requests from small refineries for exemptions from the RFS. EPA has subsequently decided to start denying all small refinery exemptions, under a new argument that small refiners do not face a disproportionate hardship from complying with the RFS. But if the courts throw out that finding in a pending lawsuit , the formula at issue in today's court ruling could take on a greater relevance for how EPA accounts for small refinery exemptions when setting biofuel blending targets. The DC Circuit rejected a separate lawsuit by cellulosic ethanol producers that said EPA should have required increased blending of cellulosic ethanol, based in part on the availability of carryover compliance credits. The court found EPA had adequate authority to waive volumetric targets set by the US Congress in 2007 based on its finding there were inadequate domestic supplies of the fuel, which is produced from plant fibers. Judge Gregory Katsas, who dissented from the ruling, said he believed the biofuel blending requirements for 2022 were set "arbitrarily high." Katsas cited EPA's finding that those standards would impose an estimated $5.7bn in additional costs for fuel but only deliver $160mn in energy security benefits. Katsas also faulted EPA for increasing the biofuel blending targets by 250mn USG in 2022 to "cancel out a legal error" from biofuel blending targets in 2016. Katsas said there was no authority to transfer volume requirements from one year to another. By Chris Knight Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Japan’s J-Power steps up coal-fired power phase-out


10/05/24
10/05/24

Japan’s J-Power steps up coal-fired power phase-out

Osaka, 10 May (Argus) — Japanese power producer and wholesaler J-Power is stepping up efforts to halt operations of inefficient coal-fired power plants, while pushing ahead with decarbonisation of its existing plants by using clean fuels and technology. J-Power plans to scrap the 500MW Matsushima No.1 coal-fired unit by the end of March 2025 and the 250MW Takasago No.1 and No.2 coal-fired units by 2030, according to its 2024-26 business strategy announced on 9 May. It also aims to decommission or mothball the 700MW Takehara No.3 and the 1,000MW Matsuura No.1 coal-fired units in 2030. The combined capacity of the selected five coal-fired units accounts for 32pc of J-Power's total thermal capacity of 8,412MW, all fuelled by coal. While phasing out its ageing coal-fired capacity, J-Power is looking to co-fire with fuel ammonia at the 2,100MW Tachibanawan coal-fired plant sometime after 2030 and ensure it runs on 100pc ammonia subsequently. The company plans to increase the mixture of biomass at the 600MW Takehara No.1 unit, along with the installation of a carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology after 2030. The CCS technology will be also applied to the 1,000MW Matsuura No.2 unit, which is expected to co-fire ammonia, after 2030. J-Power plans to use hydrogen at the 1,200MW Isogo plant sometime after 2035. The company is also set to deploy integrated coal gasification combined-cycle and CCS technology at the 500MW Matsushima No.2 unit and the 150MW Ishikawa No.1 and No.2 units after 2035. The company aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from its domestic power generation by 46pc by the April 2030-March 2031 fiscal year against 2013-14 levels before achieving a net zero emissions goal by 2050. This is in line with Tokyo's emissions reduction target. The company aims to expand domestic annual renewable output by 4TWh by 2030-31 compared with 2022-23, along with decarbonising thermal capacity. Its renewable generation totalled 10.4TWh in 2023-24. Tokyo has pledged to phase out existing inefficient coal-fired capacity by 2030, which could target units with less than 42pc efficiency. The country's large-scale power producers have reduced annual power output from their inefficient coal-fired fleet by 13TWh to 103TWh in 2022-23 against 2019-20, according to a document unveiled by the trade and industry ministry on 8 May. It expects such power generation will fall further by more than 60TWh to 39.700TWh in 2030-31. Global pressure against coal-fired power generation has been growing. Energy ministers from G7 countries in late April pledged to phase out "unabated coal power generation" by 2035 or "in a timeline consistent with keeping a limit of 1.5°C temperature rise within reach, in line with countries' net zero pathways". By Motoko Hasegawa Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Australia’s ANZ bank to end new gas, oil lending


09/05/24
09/05/24

Australia’s ANZ bank to end new gas, oil lending

Sydney, 9 May (Argus) — Australia-based bank ANZ has updated its oil and gas policy, with it to no longer provide direct financing to new or expanding upstream oil and gas projects. The bank declared its new policy as part of its 2024 half-year results released on 7 May, saying it would also decline to integrate new customers primarily focused on upstream oil and gas. ANZ said that while it believes gas plays a "material and important part in meeting Australia's current energy needs and will do so for the foreseeable future", it will instead collaborate with energy customers to help finance their transition away from fossil fuels. The bank has a 26pc greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction by 2030 goal and committed in 2020 to exit all lending to companies with exposure to thermal coal, either through extraction or power generation by 2030 as part of lending criteria to support the 2015 UN Paris climate agreement target of net zero GHG emissions by 2050. ANZ has however promised to consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis, if any national energy security issues arise. Australia's banks have been under sustained pressure by environmental groups to exit lending to fossil fuel projects, as upstream gas firms also face shareholder rebellions over climate action plans. But Australia's federal government has conceded gas will likely be needed post-2050 as a firming power source for renewables and industrial feedstock for some sectors. But investment in upstream exploration has been extremely low in recent years, with imports of LNG likely in southern Australia from about 2026 to meet demand for industrial users and power generation. By Tom Major Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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