Edition for 19 May 2020

Top Stories

'For your children': former top Australian public servants call for carbon price (Guardian)

  • Former senior public servants have called for the re-introduction of a carbon price, saying it would be the least economically damaging way to cut greenhouse gas emissions and could deliver the technological solutions the Morrison government says are needed.
  • Ken Henry, the Treasury secretary between 2001 and 2011, said the question the government should be asking itself on climate was how to put a cap, or limit, on national emissions at least cost to the country.
  • “The answer to that question – and everybody will tell this – is an emissions trading scheme,” he said.

Government looks to carbon capture for climate action (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • The Morrison government is considering legislative changes to allow its clean energy agencies to fund carbon capture and storage from fossil fuel projects in a bid to unlock $2 billion of private investment to reduce greenhouse gases.
  • Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor has accepted 21 of the 26 recommendations from an independent panel reviewing the $2 billion Emissions Reduction Fund, including all those relating to carbon capture and storage.
  • Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said emissions reduction policy driven by "technology not taxes" would attract significant private investment.

Germany is leading the world toward a green recovery (EHN)

  • This won’t happen everywhere — the U.S., for instance, is already using the crisis to roll back environmental protections.
  • Described by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as “Europe’s man on the moon moment,” the EU’s 27 member states created a plan to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2050 by overhauling transportation, construction, agriculture and energy.
  • Over 60 German companies — including iconic brands like Bayer, ThyssenKrupp and Puma — issued a joint statement calling for any stimulus they receive to be tied to a green transition.

Stripe picks $1 mln in carbon-removal projects to spur industry (Reuters)

  • The beach project - taking coarse-milled olivine to the water’s edge so the waves can grind it up, allowing the ocean to absorb more carbon - is one of four investments in carbon removal Stripe announced on Monday.
  • Another technology deal will fund putting carbon into concrete to strengthen it, while a third takes biomass that would decompose and spew carbon - such as almond shells - and produces bio-oil for burial far underground.
  • Stripe is spending $1 million all told, following CEO Patrick Collison’s August pledge that instead of buying cheap carbon offsets, such as those from landowners who agree not to cut trees, the company would pay much more for innovative methods to get carbon dioxide out of the air.

Coronavirus widens climate rift between European and U.S. oil majors (Reuters)

  • The plans of companies like BP (BP.L), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and Total (TOTF.PA) are in step with the European Union’s efforts to transition to a lower-carbon economy and away from a century-old reliance on oil, and reflect the region’s widening rift with the United States where both the government and the top drillers are largely staying committed to oil and gas.
  • But Europe’s top five producers - BP, Shell, Total, Eni (ENI.MI), and Equinor (EQNR.OL) - are all focusing their investment cuts mainly on oil and gas activities, and giving their renewables and low carbon businesses a relative boost, according to Reuters calculations.
  • At the same time, the EU is expected to focus economic stimulus on green energy infrastructure in the wake of the crisis to further align it with the ambitions of the Paris agreement to fight climate change, making investments in the sector more attractive.

Spain unveils climate law to cut emissions to net zero by 2050 (Climate Home News)

  • The Spanish government is due to present an ambitious draft law to cut the country’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 to Parliament on Tuesday. The government hopes the draft law, which would ban all new coal, oil and gas projects with immediate effect, will shape the recovery effort to Covid-19. 
  • To reach its 2050 goal, the government has proposed interim targets through its national energy and climate plans to 2030.
  • By 2030, the government pledged to reduce emissions 23% from 1990 levels and double the proportion of renewable sources in total energy consumption to 35-42% — an objective it described as consistent with the EU bloc-wide target to cut emissions 50%-55% by 2030.

Petronas joins World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Malay Mail)

  • Petronas, which has joined over 200 forward-thinking companies as the newest member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), is confident of contributing more to the global and national policy of sustainable development.
  • The national oil company said through its membership in WBCSD, it would be able to shape insights and develop solutions to address the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda, as well as build experiences in advancing its sustainability ambitions in collaboration with like-minded partners through WBCSD’s wide networking platform across a variety of sectors.
  • “The company is also confident that it will be able to contribute more to the global and national policy development through this strategic partnership with WBCSD and provide business leadership for sustainability in Malaysia as well as Southeast Asia,” it said in a statement today.

Economists put a price tag on living whales in Brazil: $82 billion (Mongabay)

  • In December 2019, they published a report in IMF’s Finance & Development stating that living whales have a high monetary value for the tourism dollars they bring into a country, as well as their ability to sequester carbon, and to give a boost to local fisheries by contributing to the food web chain.
  • When a whale dies, its body will sink to the bottom of the ocean, storing away carbon for centuries, which plays a central role in mitigating climate change.
  • “Whales are not a human solution — these great creatures having inherent value of their own and the right to live — but this new mindset recognizes and values their integral place in a sustainable ocean and planet,” they say in their report.

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