–Young bear hit by oil drilling, dashing hopes for ambitious January
By Mathew Carr and others
Dec. 27, 2020-Jan. 9, 2021 — LONDON: Since nearly 200 nations were supposedly set to finish tightening their contributions to the Paris agreement by the end of last year (Dec. 31 — we assume, because there’s a deadline under that ratified UN deal), they’ll be up for getting cracking on unprecedented climate action starting January 2021.
Here’s how a fictional baby polar bear, let’s call him Yao, would like to see humans play January out, day by day … but it hasn’t gone so well so far.
(I’ll update this during the next few days/weeks – please send ideas my way for specific January 2021 climate actions at firstname.lastname@example.org — can be for the record or you can indicate off-record steers … there are plenty of gaps to fill):
Friday, Jan. 1.
Among the most cost-effective and politically expedient climate action is cutting low-hanging-fruit emissions in emerging nations, financed by wealthier nations most responsible for the climate crisis. These moves also help heal climate injustices, Yao reckons.
Yao likes the idea of cutting many tons of emissions with 32 euros rather than just one ton (– that’s the closing 2020 price on the world’s biggest carbon market in Europe, according to ICE Futures Europe).
Countries are already using Article 6 of the Paris climate deal (for instance) to drive cost-efficient emission cuts via projects worth at least $1.4 billion, a fourfold rise within 18 months, according to Carbon Pulse. See this from a fascinating report this month by Climate Finance Innovators:
Since the European Union and it’s former member Britain have set more ambitious emission targets for 2030, Yao dreams they could resolve to provide an extra incentive to emerging nations by AGAIN tightening their Paris pledges, too, first thing in 2021 — preferably on Jan. 1.
The EU could pledge to go for a 75% emissions cut by 2030 vs 1990 instead of its current target of 55%.
It could do so by promising to help finance cheaper greenhouse gas reductions in the emerging world, using article 6. Similarly, the U.K. could go for 80% instead of its new 68% reduction target.
Yao’s not the only one dreaming of this. So is Yvo De Boer, former executive secretary of the UNFCCC:
Tighter targets will get climate money flowing where it is most cost effective.
By sending this signal, the European nations could show they are very serious about hitting Paris’s target for keeping temperature gains as low as 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Yao likes these moves because they help modernize developing nations, many of which have signalled they are willing to adopt tighter 2030 targets assuming the promised finance and assistance and technology — promised by richer nations for three decades — finally arrives.
The landscape is already becoming impressive:
THIS HAPPENED TO SOME EXTENT WITH ADJUSTMENTS MADE BY NATIONS IN THEIR NDCS
Saturday, Jan. 2
Dozens of nations announce they’ll participate in reverse auctions to win finance to protect forests and grow new ones, absorb greenhouse gases using new farming techniques, slash industrial emissions, shift away from fossil fuels, Yao hopes.
Theses reverse auctions could spur 100s of billions of euros of finance (though weirdly it’s unclear how much they’ll be used in 2021).
Such auctions of put options have previously resulted in price guarantees for emission credits at $2.40 (1.97 euros) a metric ton, five times Thursday’s benchmark price on ICE Futures Europe. In an auction earlier this year, the price was lower — fifteen winners paid $0.30 for the right to sell a carbon credit to a facility at $1.98 per credit.
See this: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/03/04/pilot-auction-to-help-reduce-42-tons-of-emissions-in-2020
Such auctions could be enough to start investments in 1,000s of emissions projects around the world, especially in poorer nations where greenhouse gas reductions come cheaper.
I WILL STAY ON THIS ONE
Sunday, Jan. 3
Yao would love it if even more countries around the world agree to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, policies that are effectively paying companies to pollute and worsen the climate crisis.
They are effectively a negative carbon price — effectively rewarding companies for bad behavior.
THE U.S. MAY DO THIS WITHIN TWO YEARS — SEE THIS: https://carrzee.org/2021/01/07/gloves-are-off-in-the-climate-fight-after-democrats-win-control-of-the-u-s-senate/
Monday, Jan. 4
Seeing how the North-South finance is starting to flow, Yao hopes China, India, Brazil and Russia are among countries to announce they are bringing forward plans to price carbon, boosting the incentive to cut emissions and set up better market structures.
They target prices in 2030 below those expected by industrialized nations, where levels are expected around 100 euros a ton, (but not too far below because of the finance).
Here’s one idea from a credible Chinese university:
See this for the apparent alignment:
Tuesday, Jan. 5
Yao sees nations across Africa, South America and Asia announce they will replace plans for coal generation with renewables, especially wind power and solar.
85% of planned coal projects in Asia cancelled, according to Assad Razzouk, CEO of Sindicatum Renewable Energy
Wednesday, Jan. 6
Several countries bring forward plans to build gigafactories for battery production. THIS DIDNT HAPPEN.
INSTEAD OF ENHANCED CLIMATE ACTION, Yao the bear is being hit by POTENTIAL oil drilling in the arctic – the complete opposite to what he was hoping for.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Jan. 6 received bids covering 552,802 acres at the first oil and gas lease sale for the Coastal Plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), furthering the Trump Administration’s goal of securing greater American energy independence and national economic prosperity. BLM Alaska received 13 bids totaling $14.4 million, according to the bureau’s website. See link above in screen shot.
The bids are under consideration.
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) was selected as the successful bidder for nine tracts. It’s a state authority, so Yao hasn’t lost all hope.
“By acquiring these tracts, Alaska preserves the right to responsibly develop its natural resources. This will create new, good-paying jobs on the North Slope and generate revenue for the local economies of Alaska’s Arctic and the State’s general fund,” said AIDEA Executive Director, Alan Weitzner. http://www.aidea.org/Portals/0/PressReleases/AIDEA%20Selected%20as%20Successful%20Bidder_010621_Final.pdf?ver=tNcQCRJtTuLHZtO8cGNPMw%3d%3d
REMEMBER many states/countries are behaving badly toward the climate at the moment which Yao hopes is just a negotiation stance ahead of trade and climate talks this year.
Many countries/states are urging the world to “bring them back from the brink” by being nice to them in the negotiations, (one person told Yao).
Thursday, Jan. 7
Environmental lobby groups stop resisting the trade in carbon credits just because it’s not perfect.
THIS SOFTENING BY ENVIRONMENTAL LOBBY GROUPS MAY BE HAPPENING
Friday Jan. 8
The mainstream media starts to lift the climate debate to include sensible solutions rather than focus on false narratives, such as this, Yao hopes:
Actually, electric vehicles are much better for the climate. See this:
Monday Jan. 11
Huge oil companies delay indefinitely new expansion plans because of a downward recast of the demand outlook for fuels, Yao hopes. See this $22 billion hit:
Tuesday Jan. 12
Norway announces it will limit new oil and natural gas exploration, especially in the Arctic — Yao especially loves this dream.
The NYT reckons a recent Supreme Court decision means Norway will drill for more oil in the Arctic. My Norway sources says that’s not necessarily true.
Wednesday Jan. 13
Yao is impressed that China seems at least a little willing to embrace some of the changes to global markets that are driving climate action, even despite delays in the official UN negotiations. See this:
“What drives the global environment agenda today is the political economy, not UN climate talks. The price of solar energy has decreased 90 percent in a decade, the price of wind 60 percent and electric batteries 85 percent,” according to Erik Solheim, vice-chairman of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and former UN diplomat.
China published the piece on the website of its environment ministry on Dec. 30: http://english.mee.gov.cn/News_service/media_news/202012/t20201230_815433.shtml
Wednesday, Jan. 20
President Joe Biden comes through on his vow to bring the U.S. back into the Paris climate deal shortly after being sworn in.
Thursday Jan. 21
Huge global companies begin to finance voluntarily emission reduction projects in developing countries, Yao hopes. The market for voluntary carbon credits takes off. It may have already started. See this:
So it’s even possible that the voluntary carbon market can help incentivise emission-reduction projects in the next 10 months, before the Glasgow talks, said Dirk Forrister, president of the International Emissions Trading Association, an industrial group that also includes banks, insurers and service providers.
“The voluntary markets could go through a real growth spurt in a pre-compliance sense,” said Forrister, who previously advised U.S. President Bill Clinton on climate policy.
The assumption is that both companies and countries would learn from the pioneering work in carbon markets made during the past three decades, including the mistakes, he said by phone.
Voluntary action can help developing countries attract capital over the next few months whether they plan domestic carbon markets or want to enter international emissions trading, he said. The Paris rules allow every nation to choose how they want to undertake climate action.
Friday Jan. 22
Governments around Europe and Australia announce they’ll hold auctions of contracts to support the bringing forward of investments in hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.
These “contracts for difference” are issued to companies guaranteeing a set power price or offering support up to a certain level of carbon prices for terms perhaps extending to 15 years — Yao loves them because they protect against competition from fossil fuels and also protect taxpayers, making them more politically expedient.
Monday Jan. 25
Some of the auctions announced Jan. 2 are held.
Tuesday Jan. 26
Yao dreams several rich countries announce they will make mandatory the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
The U.S. will probably be among countries starting to make mandatory the recommendations, in phases, according to Tim Williamson, who was a senior renewable energy official in the Obama administration.
Also in the U.S., the Securities Exchange Commission will begin cracking down in 2021 on omissions in ESG reporting, including from companies with operations in China, the biggest emitter, Williamson said by phone.
Wednesday Jan. 27
Sunday Jan. 31
Day of rest. Whew
I asked one blunt-speaking teenager what Yao the polar bear would want of humans on climate action in January 2021. The answer from the person, who I won’t name, was short: “Die or f*ck off!”
The coronavirus pandemic has accomplished a little of both (but neither are credible long-term climate measures — eek).
(Updates with extra ideas from readers; inserts Tsinghua University chart that was erroneously left out of earlier version…again…feedback my way)