–U.S. has no “current plans” to do so: state department spokesperson –Palm-oil replacement seen helping save forests around the world
By Mathew Carr
May 11-14, 2021 — LONDON: UBS, the Swiss bank with a well-regarded team of analysts, sees the U.S. joining China-EU collaboration on climate, creating a global solution to a worldwide problem.
“I see, for example, the new joint platform of the EU and China as an open arrangement between two major jurisdictions that the Americans should, and in my view will, join,” said Axel Weber, chairman of the bank, speaking Tuesday at an online UBS climate seminar.
Regional solutions won’t do because the climate problem is global, Weber said. “It needs to be collaboration” between America and China rather than competition, he said.
“The U.S. government has no current plans to join the EU-China emissions trading system,” a spokesperson for the U.S. state department said by email in response to questions.
The lack of complete agreement around the world on how to approach the climate transition need not prevent substantial progress, UBS said.
There will be “a lot more” momentum leading up to the global climate talks to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, November, Weber said. “We have the chance in a market that’s still nascent to develop joint standards and move things forward.”
Sometimes it’s better for the biggest economies to spend money on climate solutions in emerging and least developed countries, because that’s better value for money, Weber signalled.
The key problem for policymakers is that they’ve left effective lawmaking so late, they now need to cut emissions by about half in the next 10 years — that’s about 3 billion tons a year to 22 billion tons at the end of the century.
After 30 years of global climate talks, they are still bickering about accounting and carbon trading rules.
“I think it’s time for the Europeans and Americans to work together, also with China and other major emerging market economies,” Weber said.
The UBS seminar featured Shara Ticku, CEO and co-founder of C16 Biosciences, who’s helping build a business that provides an alternative to palm oil, and so cutting the associated deforestation and CO2 emissions.
Ticku said she was working at a huge bank on health care, then realised that work was going to be super challenging unless the climate was saved first, so she switched to an industry where she was using her time to scale emission reductions by helping save forests (see link at the bottom).
(Updates with U.S. state department comment; earlier adds headline translation from Google translate; earlier updates with palm-oil example, Weber comments; more to come)
May 7-9, 2021 — LONDON: The European Union’s plan for a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) in 2023 could cause the region’s greenhouse gas permits to double, according to research by Morgan Stanley.
The CBAM, if put in place, would require importers to pay the equivalent of the EU carbon price on goods in energy intensive industries as they bring them into the EU. The planned measure is seeking to “encourage” other nations around the world to deploy carbon pricing if they want to trade with the bloc.
The most likely form of the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will be a “notional emissions trading system”, where “a separate pool of carbon allowances is purchased on import at the EU emissions trading system price, but not traded,” Morgan Stanley analysts, including Victoria Irving in London, said in an emailed research note.
“If carbon allowances are wound down post 2026, carbon prices could increase under the EU ETS to +€100/tonne. For most high-carbon sectors, the overall impact is likely to be net negative or at least mixed for the EU producers, with any green premium offset by a potential increased carbon cost headwind from higher carbon prices and increased capex to decarbonise.”
WARNING: EU carbon has already more than tripled since the beginning of the global pandemic and the carbon border plan has not yet been made into law.
This week has been a bumper week for European climate policy, with Germany seeking to shift its net-zero target forward five years to 2045 (see link in notes) and 2030 limit to a 65% cut vs 1990 levels from 55%.
That move followed a March constitutional court ruling published last month that said of the requirements to cut greenhouse gas (see links below):
“These future obligations to reduce emissions have an impact on practically every type of freedom because virtually all aspects of human life still involve the emission of greenhouse gases and are thus potentially threatened by drastic restrictions after 2030. Therefore, the legislator should have taken precautionary steps to mitigate these major burdens in order to safeguard the freedom guaranteed by fundamental rights.”
EU carbon jumped to a record above 51 euros a ton late on Friday in London on ICE Futures Europe (WARNING II: It’s not entirely clear whether a tighter 2030 target for Germany will translate into a tighter EU carbon market cap for the same period. Please get in touch if you know.):
For foreign exchange and trade, a CBAM could put “upward pressure” on the euro, but any trade tensions could result in USD strength, the bank said.
Decarbonisation leading equities could benefit in the long term. Near term, costs will be a headwind for high-carbon sectors from both incremental carbon taxes and investment in decarbonisation technologies, the analysts said.
Longer term, however, the decarbonisation leaders could benefit from greater access to capital and a potential lower relative cost base, the analysts said.
“We highlight in aluminium Norsk Hydro, in cement Lafarge, Holcim and HeidelbergCement, in chemicals Johnson Matthey and Croda and in steel SSAB and ArcelorMittal.”
Carbon prices are also rising as the chance of intervention anytime soon in the market to limit gains is seen to wane:
Redshaw Advisors summarized price outlook for EU carbon Friday evening London time like so:
Outlook: Following the end of the compliance period there were question marks about whether EU allowances could continue April’s gains; those questions have been answered emphatically by the bulls this week. A further €2.25 has been added and the close just off the high puts the bulls in total control going into next week. We will analyse this week and the outlook for next week in Monday’s WeeklyRed.
EUA Closing price: €51.07 2021 average closing price: €40.09
(Updates with links, price chart, tweet, context, second warning; earlier adds Redshaw price outlook, closing price; earlier adds first warning)
May 5, 2021 — LONDON: To ensure the European Union’s policies achieve the region’s required emission cuts, investors will probably need the comfort of clever carbon contracts that protect clean investors.
The region’s policies needs to reflect industry’s needs during the transition to climate neutrality, the European Commission said today in an updated plan (see link below).
“De-risking of initial investments through tools like Contracts for Difference need to be explored,” it said.
CCfD would pay out the difference between the price of EU emissions allowances and the contract price, thus effectively ensuring a guaranteed carbon price would be protecting the hydrogen project from competition fueled by coal, crude oil or natural gas.
The allowances have surged to a record this week.
Whichever green-hydrogen project, for instance, offers to produce the fuel at the lowest carbon price, would win the CCfD incentive. This competitive tension will drive down costs, as electricity contracts for difference did for offshore wind.
In exchange for the insurance, investors would pay money to the government should carbon prices be higher than the CCfD strike price, reducing financial risks for the taxpayers providing the incentive.
Companies would therefore have an incentive to make climate-friendly, innovative investments and reduce their CO2 emissions, knowing they were protected from market shifts or a counter attack from fossil fuels.
Carbon prices are likely to help determine hydrogen prices, as hydrogen competes with old energy.
Governments will become incentivised to keep carbon prices high and the carbon market tight.
This is for three important reasons:
First, they’ll want to get more money when they sell carbon allowances in auctions. These funds can help poor people navigate the energy transition and create jobs.
Second, they’ll try to keep the carbon price above the CCfD strike levels because, otherwise, they’ll have to tap indebted taxpayers to pay the difference to the makers of the hydrogen.
Third, high carbon prices (tight constraints on emissions using various policies) are the only way they’ll meet their emission-reduction targets.
The CCFD would help spur industrial scale demonstrators of green technologies and the launch of markets for green and circular products, the commission said today (Wednesday).
Other derisking measures could include insurance programs and special purpose vehicles for off balance sheet financing “to support the uptake of new low carbon technologies at industrial scale.”
The Green Tech Investment Initiative would increase the access to equity finance for innovative small-medium enterprises and start-ups that develop and adopt green-tech solutions.
April 30, 2021 — LONDON: Britain’s new post-Brexit carbon market will be fun to trade, and potentially financially dangerous, because of the multiple political risks on the table.
When the market officially kicks off in three week’s time, traders bidding in the first auction and buying and selling futures contracts on ICE Futures Europe will have plenty to think about.
Initially, prices won’t trade too low because there’s a 22 pound per ton reserve price at auctions. The country also has a separate floor support system with complicates comparisons between the EU and U.K. programs (see story linked below).
The British government intends to withdraw its reserve price as the market “matures,” according to guidance updated April 28 (see link below). “The government will consult on its intent to withdraw the auction reserve price as part of the planned consultation to appropriately align the U.K. emissions trading system cap with a net zero trajectory which will be launched later this year.”
There’s plenty for traders and potential traders to think about in that sentence right there.
But there’s also plenty of potential market shifts, should prices surge, because that’s when “cost containment” measures will kick in.
The Cost Containment Mechanism (CCM) will provide “a process for the U.K. government and devolved administrations to address significant extended price spikes in the market. The UK CCM will have lower price and time triggers in the first 2 years of the U.K. ETS when compared to the equivalent EU ETS mechanism.
This will allow quicker intervention in the early years if appropriate. If the CCM is triggered, a meeting of the UK ETS Authority is called to consider what intervention, if any, to make. If there is no agreement on what action to take, the final decision will be taken by HM Treasury (HMT). This intervention can include:
redistributing allowances between the current year’s auctions
bringing forward auctioned allowances from future years to the current year
drawing allowances from the market stability mechanism account
auctioning up to 25% of the remaining allowances in the New Entrants Reserve
All of these decisions will require complicated analysis and traders seeking to second guess the authority and then potentially Treasury will probably need sophisticated models to predict the various potential outcomes.
I imagine the U.K. cost containment system will indeed be able to be nimble compared with the EU, should prices spike. That’s what the British government is aiming for and that may prove attractive to traders. EU rulemaking is notoriously laborious, yet even so has its own logic for traders with the stamina to get to know it.
So even after EU carbon prices surged this year, the first year of the Paris climate deal, there are going to be plenty of opportunities, and risks, going forward for traders. See this two-year chart:
The U.K. market may initially dent the EU market, as traders divide their time, potentially sell EU futures to finance purchases of U.K. contracts. On the other hand, increasing interest from the wider global investment community will probably more than make up for those short-term shifts.
ICE was appointed to host emissions auctions on behalf of the U.K. governments as the new market replaces the country’s participation in the EU ETS.
According to ICE: Full details of the U.K. Allowance (UKA) auctions, including the auction calendar, can be found here. ICE plans to launch UKA Futures contracts on May 19, coinciding with the launch of the first auction, with UKA Daily Futures following on May 21, subject to regulatory approval. These will clear at ICE Clear Europe alongside ICE’s global environmental complex, including European Union Allowances (EUA), California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) and California Carbon Offsets (CCOs).
“We believe the UK ETS will be pivotal in supporting the climate ambitions of the U.K.,” said Gordon Bennett, Managing Director of Utility Markets at ICE, in an emailed statement. “Reliable and liquid carbon and energy benchmarks are critical for markets to deliver an efficient transition from high to low carbon energy generation and carbon cap and trade programs have proved to be an incredibly successful policy tool in abating emissions.”
ICE provides access to the largest and most liquid environmental markets in the world. More than 14 billion metric tons of carbon trades on ICE annually, which is equivalent to about 40% of the world’s total annual energy-related emissions footprint based on current estimates, it said.
Environmental markets have been offered for nearly two decades. A wide and increasing group of investors and emitters use the price signals from markets and indices to help assess and manage climate-action risk in their portfolios of stocks, bonds and commodities.
–The clever thing that the Biden-Harris administration has done is not that it has given the United Nations an ULTIMATUM but that it’s given an OPPORTUNITY
ANALYSIS: By Mathew Carr
April 25-30, 2021 –LONDON: The U.S. earlier this month made its initial choice from markets available to help the country meet its new target for a 50-52% emissions cut in the 25 years through 2030.
The world’s richest economy is bypassing — at least for now — markets potentially being set up specifically under the Paris climate deal.
Instead, it’ll apparently use the existing voluntary carbon markets. The USA’s latest Paris plan published April 21 — its nationally determined contribution (NDC) — doesn’t say it QUITE that bluntly, because that might be construed as a little undiplomatic.
The U.S. does not want to rub its plan in the face of the United Nations (and China). But make no mistake, the U.S. is firmly taking charge of its ability to meet its own target, which seems ambitious on the surface given its multi-decade failure to clean up its economy, but really isn’t very ambitious at all.
What the country does say in its NDC (see the link in the chart below) is that it “intends to make corresponding adjustments for any internationally transferred mitigation outcomes that theUnited States Government authorizes for use towards NDCs, and for mitigation outcomes that the United States authorizes for other international mitigation purposes.”
That’s a mouthful. To me, it’s an important one.
I think it means the U.S. will use the existing voluntary carbon markets, which are already ramping up this year, because post-coronavirus millennial consumers and huge, global companies seeking to make their brands “greener” are already buying more credits.
The U.S.’s choice is perhaps not surprising. Unlike his predecessor, President Joe Biden seems keen to protect the climate, and sooner rather than later. The Biden-Harris administration seems much more aggressive on cutting emission, something that’s music to the ears of developing countries.
Doing it this way means the U.S. can use any carbon credit it authorizes to meet the target, making the limit much easier to achieve with little financial or reputational risk.
But, the U.S. isn’t going rogue, here.
It will authorise credits only if they are “consistent with Articles 4 and 6 of the Paris Agreement and any applicable guidance, in tracking progress towards and accounting for the NDC.” (These unfinished articles cover accounting and market rules.)
America also isn’t ruling out using Paris-specific markets in the future. It’s merely saying it “does not intend” to use them, right now at least. It can change its mind should they become a good option.
As I said, the Article 4 and 6 guidance is still being negotiated, and the U.S.’s plan earlier this month will add to the pressure that’s already piling on UN envoys to agree that guidance (see story in notes below).
Even the Paris deal’s own markets (under articles 6.2 and 6.4) will be voluntary, because each country gets to decide whether or not it wants to use them when they exist. The U.S. even makes this point in last week’s NDC.
One key upshot of the U.S. move is that it will increase the price of carbon credits likely to win U.S. approval. It will also do something extremely important – turn on investment-flow taps that could amount to billions, or even trillions, of dollars around the world in the next few years.
See this from investment bank Morgan Stanley:
Another critique of the offset market is that the current prices aren’t high enough to incentivise change. The IMF has estimated that to keep emission levels in line with a 2˚C target, a global average cost of carbon of $75/tonne is necessary (IMF). Further, a recent academic study estimates the price necessary to achieve net zero by 2050 is $50/tonne by 2025, increasing to $100/tonne by 2030 (Nature). In contrast, Ecosystems Marketplace estimated that the average voluntary carbon offset prices was just under $3/tonne in 2019.
EU carbon prices reached 48 euros a ton this month.
The reason why the money might start flowing is because investors will now WANT to push money into projects that will cut emissions in an “additional” way — ie in a way that uses new technology that needs an uplift from carbon credits.
I imagine the U.S. will have high standards and these will be projects that would not otherwise have been built (otherwise they are not additional, right?).
One of the clever things about Biden’s NDC move, though, is that it takes advantage of an existing incentive — the voluntary carbon markets, which are pretty small right now.
That incentive will continue to exist even if UN envoys continue to disagree on the final Article 4 and 6 guidance, or, as explained above, even if they agree.
If they can’t agree UN-level rules at Glasgow talks in November — or, even better, set up UN-level markets — it will be much easier for the U.S. regulators to say during the next 10 years that an emissions project is “additional,” whether that’s domestically or in Kenya or even China or Brazil.
If UN rules ARE set up, on the other hand, it will be more difficult for the U.S. to confidently say a project would not have been incentivized anyway under those UN rules. (This is where the U.S. may change its mind and join the UN system, afterall.)
On the downside for the climate, a continued vacuum of UN rules will mean that countries with potentially laxer standards than the U.S. will also start issuing emission credits, potentially boosting supply and eroding prices in the existing voluntary markets, and therefore cutting the incentive to reduce emissions around the world.
Whether it’s the existing voluntary markets or voluntary UN markets that start providing the market incentive is not necessarily the most important thing, said Renat Heuberger, CEO and co-founder of South Pole, a company that provides climate-protection services.
The key is to have SOME SORT of system, whatever that is.
“Whatever the decisions bring, somebody has to start moving,” he said, before the U.S.’s new NDC was published.
Some developing countries have added increased tax breaks for coal mining because of the coronarvirus pandemic, he said.
So some countries are implementing laws that are against their own NDC. A Kyoto-credit-type market, which exists today, might even be better, he said.
The Kyoto credit market was underpinned by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), one of the most influential climate markets ever created in the 1990s, because it allowed emerging countries to make money by cutting emissions.
It’s in the emerging markets where incentives to cut emissions are most important.
South Pole is preparing for a world where the voluntary markets are on fire.
“Frankly if I’m wrong I’m very, very happy to be wrong. If you give me two choices and I have to sign; one is a system with the voluntary market, the other is no voluntary market, but a clean-development-style mechanism system, a global system,” under UN rules.
(I would choose the UN system over the voluntary system, he said.)
“My fear is we are ending in something that is in between. Governments say neither do we have a functioning corresponding-adjustment style CDM system, nor do we allow” a private-market voluntary system.
“We are doing nothing. We are trying to figure it out (in the) next year. This (debate) could happen for the next 10 years until we are in a 5C world. I can live with any decision. The one thing I cannot live with is no decision. And that is my fear.”
(Smoothed some of the language near the end on April 30, tweaked some of the time elements to remove ‘last week’ from headline etc; Updated previously with Morgan Stanley additionality snip, South Pole)
The 2% would cover administrative expenses and assist developing countries that are “particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change to meet the cost of adaptation measures,” according to statement on UNFCCC website.
It would allow adaptation to benefit from rising carbon prices.
The 2 percentage of credits under both Article 6.2 and 6.4 can be applied as follows: i. Under Article 6.2 the 2 percentage of Article 6.2 ITMOs shall be levied at the transfer and charged to the acquiring party. ii. Under Article 6.4 the 2 percentage of Article 6.4 ERs shall be levied at issuance.
April 22, 2021 — LONDON: Investors who bought EU carbon allowances on March 18, 2020 — the depth of the pandemic — might have tripled their money.
The market traded as high as a record 46.68 euros a metric ton this morning, ahead of President Joe Biden’s climate summit, after dropping as low as 15.71 euros last year, according to data on the website of ICE Futures Europe.
Climate negotiations are ramping up; Paris rulebook / carbon club scenarios for 2030, 2031:
–This straw man * chart shows what climate envoys are grappling with; we are not saying something like this would work, but it shows compromise is possible
By Mathew Carr and Tim Williamson
April 21, 2021 — London, Washington DC: With climate negotiators struggling to seek consensus on climate solutions, it’s actually fun to try get your head around the maths and the geopolitics.
On the one hand it’s super tricky because the sums over the next 10 years are huge, as are the needed trade offs, which will need to cover decades of disagreement.
On the other hand, using round numbers helps, and the figures may demonstrate that an almost universal climate solution — and a deal — just might be easier to obtain than some people think.
Negotiators are seeking to clinch a deal to agree the Paris agreement rulebook.
See this thought experiment chart below (we are not trying to suggest solutions, but seeking to improve the quality of public debate, thereby curbing the potentially unnecessary political heat in that debate); it assumes the world’s biggest 20 or so nations agree to form an ambitious “carbon club” as they agree rules under UN climate talks:
CHART EXPLAINER: To prevent 1.5 degrees of climate change, the IPCC has called for a 45% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 compared to 2010 levels (that is, 33.1 billion tons of global CO2 equivalent emissions).
This requires about 22 billion tons of total CO2e emissions in 2030. Current CO2e emissions are approximately 52 billion tons of CO2e per year (see first column of numbers).
That means countries must remove 30 billion tons of total annual CO2e emissions, equating to 3 billion tons of CO2e reductions per year, over the 10 years to 2030 (see note below).
This “grand compromise,” if you like, includes two phases of sub compromises from the countries who are currently the biggest emitters globally or sell fossil fuels and are in the club.
First, they make the biggest spending commitments during the next 10 years as part of $2 trillion needed. The chart only focuses on spending for mitigation of CO2e as part of projects, which will include electric vehicles, green fuels, solar panels, batteries and offshore windfarms.
In reality, these emission cuts would require investment of about $20 trillion over the 10 years to make the yearly emission cuts sustainable into the decade and the future. The projects could provide certain returns and well-paying jobs, boosting economies.
But, leaving the non-mitigation element aside, the chart gets the U.S. and China to pay a similar amount — recognizing that, while the U.S. has the most cumulative emissions over time, China has much higher emissions right now.
Spending on green investments is increasingly being seen as an opportunity rather than a cost.
By matching the China and U.S. contribution, we are preventing any loss of face.
The fourth column of numbers shows the second sub compromise.
Here, countries with the most cumulative emissions get a smaller portion of the cap in 2031, the first year of the second decade under the Paris climate deal. OK, that should have been the cap in 2030, but we will be happy if the world can get anywhere near hitting it in 2031.
The U.S. gets about half the allocation of China, again, because of the U.S.’s relatively small population and big historical responsibility for the climate crisis.
India, for instance, get a bigger portion of the 2031 cap because it’s used less space in the atmosphere as of now.
These portions of the 22 billion ton cap can in theory be bought and sold under rules of Paris that are currently being negotiated.
Assuming carbon prices rise to about $200 by 2031, the cap would be worth $4.4 trillion.
That’s a lot.
The rest of the world block of the cap could also be sold, giving finance for green expansion in those nations and could be bought by rich countries so they can make more efficient use of existing fossil-fuel assets. Those could be run closer to the end of their useful life.
That rest-of-the-world block alone could be worth $1.1 trillion in 2031.
Importantly, countries could choose to be part of the club or not, because the Paris deal allows countries freedom of choice.
How would you change our plan to make it better/to improve the chance countries can agree some sort of grand compromise and more detailed rules of the Paris Agreement, including the emissions trading elements?
(Williamson is a former President Obama renewable energy official interested in creating hydro energy storage projects.)
NOTE: IPCC = Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
*A straw man proposal is easy to pick apart and rebuild
April 21, 2021 — LONDON: At the invitation of U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend and deliver a speech at the Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22, Xinhua reported.
The world seems at a crossroads, where rampant capitalism needs to be reigned in by sustainability measures, socialism (or better rules that improve society rather than eat away at it. For instance, climate polluters need to start to pay for each ton of carbon dioxide equivalent they emit).
China announced Xi’s attendance as the Financial Times quoted him on page one saying better multilateralism was needed.
By FT, comment by Mathew Carr — LONDON: The UK will this week commit to a deeper cut in carbon emissions as it prepares to host the UN’s COP26 climate summit later this year, according to people briefed on the plan, Financial Times reported.
“Prime minister Boris Johnson will in coming days announce a new pledge to reduce emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. The new UK target will be announced ahead of a major US climate summit on Thursday, where President Joe Biden is due to outline a new national goal for US carbon reduction,” the newspaper said.
COMMENT: What would be a more compelling carrot for developing nations would be extra green finance from Britain in the next 10 years, effectively allowing it to tighten its target for 2030 (perhaps by using emissions trading) to a 78% reduction from the existing 68%. That said, 73% for 2030 might be enough to get poorer nations into the hoped-for COP26 deal on the Paris climate-deal rulebook.