Dismay at EU inaction to resuscitate the carbon markets

April 26, 2013 05:13 by Carbonica

In the past year the price of carbon credits has tumbled to unprecedented low levels, making it uneconomical for project originators to fund new clean energy projects, given particularly in small-scale projects the cost of verification and issuance of carbon credits can exceed the sale price.

This is particularly true for reforestation projects, improved land management and REDD. The market inactivity, mostly caused by a lack of a sound regulatory framework and a political backing to support carbon finance, undermines the viability of these projects and any hope of underpinning reforestation at a large scale with private finance.

This sends the wrong message to the markets: on the one hand utilities are resorting too much to coal to keep energy prices down, and the lack of political will to tax emissions or to underpin the carbon price will make it impossible for the UK and other EU countries to keep on track to agreed emission cuts targets.

Last week's rejection by the European Parliament to introduce reforms to the EU ETS is a depressing piece of news, and sources from within the parliament advise that it is unlikely that the vote will be revisited in its current form.

A fundamental reform of the EU ETS is now overdue, and EU legislators are showing very poor judgement and lack of vision for climate change policy by not tackling this issue seriously.


Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013

April 13, 2013 11:22 by Carbonica

Baroness Thatcher, the greatest British peacetime Prime Minister of the past century, delivered this remarkably insightful and visionary speech on Global Enronmental Issues at the UN General Assembly in November 1989. It is as timely today as it was two decades ago.


To view it in larger size on  YOUTUBE: http://youtu.be/6hwh4txzYlE 


Carbon tax should be used to mitigate global warming, not to make up for revenue shortfalls

November 9, 2012 05:25 by Carbonica

Suddenly the Carbon Tax has entered the fiscal cliff debate on both sides of the Atlantic, as a very credible candidate to generate additional revenue for governments to mitigate the debt burden.

A Congressional Research Service Report states that a carbon tax of $20 per ton would generate $88 billion in 2012, and a projected $144 billion in 2020.

It is very tempting to budget in this new source of revenue to mitigate public debt, but it remains far from clear how this would do anything for global warming.

It is important that if governments decide to make energy producers pay for their emissions, every single cent of this should be allocated to a green budget to fund decarbonisation and mitigation measures that are sufficiently sound projects which provide measurable GHG emissions reductions.

If a carbon tax revenue of $20 per ton is allocated to subsidize renewables projects, including nuclear, it will facilitate a fast-tracking of decarbonising the energy industry. This will be the clearest incentive to phase out the old polluting forms of energy generation.   


Hitachi's move signals a nuclear revival

October 30, 2012 13:21 by Carbonica

Nuclear energy, one of the world's most powerful and reliable renewable energy sources, is owed a revival and a vote of confidence.

Having been shut out of its home turf owing to the U-turn of energy policy in Japan in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident, where the government has announced a total shutdown of all nuclear energy facilities, the Japanese giant Hitachi has turned its attention to the UK.

Today's announcement of its purchase of the nuclear consortium Horizon is to be welcomed.

Horizon was left in the lurch after E.ON and RWE abandoned their nuclear ambitions in Britain, after failing to secure the right public subsidies.

 Hitachi will pay £700 million for Horizon and is committed to construct 4 new nuclear power reactors, which will significantly contribute to GHG emissions reductions targets.


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Carbon Trading in China

October 25, 2012 12:07 by Carbonica

Change is quietly brewing in China. The world's largest GHG emitter is readying itself for a pilot scheme to be introduced in 2013 for emissions trading in a small number of cities and provinces.

It is widely believed that the scheme will in itself be significant and only second to the EU ETS in trade volume. It will then be rolled out nationwide in 2015-2016, when it will be undoubtedly the largest emissions trading scheme in the world. This will undoubtedly impact in climate change policy and China's position in the world with a view to a new framework to supersede Kyoto's CDM extension.

A new agreement is to be reached by 2015 with a target date for implementation in 2020. By that date, it is quite clear that if the Chinese trading scheme has been in force for 7 years it will by then be the centre of gravity of global carbon trading.


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Graphic resource to explore the ocean

October 11, 2012 08:09 by Carbonica

Our friend Meika Jensen from MastersDegree.net has created a very neat graphic that focuses on ocean exploration and why we need to continue it. We are very happy to share it here with you and hope you will find it interesting!

You will aso find it on http://www.mastersdegree.net/explore-the-ocean

Thanks Meika!



Explore the Ocean
Created by: MastersDegree.net


Top 3 Green Buildings for the Future

March 23, 2012 01:58 by Carbonica

By Zac Colbert

They might look like something out of a science fiction film, but these 3 futuristic buildings are going to be erected in reality over the next few years:

Apple’s ‘Spaceship’

Keen to improve their sustainable credentials, Apple is making their new headquarters completely self-sufficient. The ‘Spaceship’ campus for over 12,000 employees will be built in Cupertino City spanning 60 hectares – 80 percent of which will be rich with freshly planted trees and greenery. The state-of-the-art office will produce all of its own power. There will be underground parking, a jogging track and a solar paneled roof. Cupertino City Council seems keen to accept the proposal. They’ve made it clear that they still have to review the environmental impact of the project and hold some more public hearings before it’s approved, which is encouraging as it means Apple will have to make that extra effort to make their Spaceship as eco-friendly as possible.

 

W57 Building New York

This pyramid-shaped building will be unique among the flat top sky scrapers of the Manhattan city-scape. It aims to be one of the most eco-friendly structures around and is hoping to achieve a LEED Gold certification. But the architecture firm – BIG, which is the force behind the revolutionary residential building, is keen to state that environmental design won’t sacrifice living standards. The Bjarke Ingels Group will endeavor to make it a pleasant and desirable place to live, every residential unit will have a balcony or bay window that will be open to natural light, there will be a green courtyard and excellent views of the Hudson River. The creative design will follow sustainable construction and operations carried out by one of the most exciting architecture firms working today so suffice to say expectations are high.

 

The LO2P Recycling Skyscraper

There’s little wonder why this project won the eVolo’s 2011 Skyscraper Competition as it is a truly revolutionary concept – a building that cleans the city it towers above. Therefore it makes sense that the proposed site for the LO2P is one of the most polluted cities in the world, Delhi.

Functioning like a giant lung the huge structure resembling an enormous turbine will purify the air using large-scale greenhouses as filters. Furthermore it will use rotating filters to capture suspended particles from the air then recycle waste heat and CO2 to grow plants. If you thought that was green, the LO2P will also be built out of recycled cars. This is by far the most environmentally conscious, forward thinking and cutting edge piece of architecture to be proposed in a long time and should set the standards for all future buildings and how they interact with the city they’re erected in. 

 

Author Bio:

Zac Colbert has got a penchant for sustainable design and eco technologies; whether it’s amazing environmentally conscious architecture or mobile workforce management, if it encourages green business then he’s going to cover it. 

 


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After Durban

December 12, 2011 07:24 by Carbonica

What has been achieved in Durban brings certainty to the carbon markets, at least for now, and the compliance sector now can breathe a sigh of relief to know that it will exist beyond 2013. New projects will now find funding to generate CERs, now that there is no anxiety that there may not be enough time to register them before 31 Dec 2012. This is a good thing.

However what has been done is simply to rubberstamp a moratorium in the validity of the Kyoto protocol until 2017, plus a pledge to work on a new framework (by around 2015) to set emission reduction targets for the world's largest emitters. This takes us on the course of the "business as usual" mentality for another 7+ years, which is bad news for global warming mitigation. We all know that the Kyoto protocol has failed to curb emissions, and on the contrary as the US is not a signatory and it does not set caps on the developing countries (which in the case of India and China carry the lionshare of the growth of CO2 emissions), then we are well set for the best part of another decade of strong growth in GHG emissions worldwide.

The Kyoto protocol is not a meaningful tool for climate change mitigation it is simply a vehicle to give some validity to the compliance carbon market. A lot of good has resulted from this, but the carbon markets being as they are a zero-sum game this will never yield to emission cuts.

Ideally what we needed now was an ambitious timetable of global emissions cuts but it is obvious that the Kyoto protocol has created an inertia and a deeply rooted expectation amongst developing countries that it is the developed world who, being responsible for global warming, must take the lead in emission cut targets and secondly must pay for the decarbonisation of the developing world.


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In the Brazilian jungle

June 14, 2011 07:14 by Carbonica

The recent death of rainforest activist Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva demonstrates that the endemic problem of illegal logging is closely linked with local law enforcement corruption, and no amount of activism will remedy this problem unless the federal government in Brazil takes a firm stance on the matter. 

Brazil remains a difficult country to invest in forestry assets and to fund reliable carbon credits programmes because of this problem. Illegal loggers, often backed by violent gangs, are a threat to landowners wishing to establish a long-term investment in forestry assets, whether it is for the purpose of sustainable timber harvesting or carbon credit origination.

President Dilma Rousseff recently announced she is sending an elite force to provide backup for local law enforcement following the recent spat of killings of activists in the provinces of Para and Rondonia, but given the size of the country and the rainforest itself, this is bound to be a drop in the ocean and it will only drive the problem elsewhere, where law enforcement is corrupt or can be corrupted, to turn a blind eye to illegal logging, as has long been the tradition in Brazil.

 


Use our Earth Day ecard

April 20, 2011 02:52 by Carbonica

Send a message to your friends with the Earth Day ecard


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The CarboniCats

April 11, 2011 09:24 by Carbonica

Use our ecard to wish Happy Easter to your friends

 


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Some reflections on the Fukushima accident

March 23, 2011 05:19 by Carbonica

There needs to be a calm and balanced debate about nuclear energy in the wake the Fukushima accident. Unfortunately there've been too many hasty judgments and premature political decisions can be detrimental to our future decarbonisation.

The accident in the Dai-chi plant involves a second generation nuclear reactor, which has been operating since 1971, and a set of extraordinary circumstances, such as a magnitude 9 earthquake and 10 metre tsunami within short range of the facilities. It's a case of outdated technology, in combination with a poor judgment in the location of the plant itself, and a set of extraordinary natural disasters that are not expected with any frequency.

In spite of the catastrophic combination of these factors, the Fukushima facilities are holding up well, and cooling systems are now reportedly restored. The levels of radiation leaked into the atmosphere are not believed to pose any threat outside the exclusion range, and in particular and most importantly will have no impact on Tokyo.

Nuclear technology has now moved on to fourth-generation reactors, the first of which is planned to be built in China. The increased efficiency and safety of nuclear energy (both operationally and in waste management) is an important factor to take into account before we rush into hasty judgments about the disasters heralded by some if we use this technology.

It would be irresponsible to assert that nuclear energy is without risks, but this extraordinary force of Nature that is such an immense source of energy deserves our attention to be managed with respect so that we can make a careful use of it limiting every possible risk. It is quite possible that fourth generation nuclear reactors would have survived the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and we would not be now in a position of questioning the safety of nuclear energy but rather praising it.

France has operated a number of nuclear facilities for a long time, generating almost 80 per cent of its electricity in this way, and in the process it has dramatically cut its GHG emissions and achieved the lowest carbon footprint in Western Europe. This has been a huge understated success and it is a clear example to follow.

China has 14 nuclear stations in operation, 26 under construction and is planning a further 28, which will make it a leader in nuclear energy and technology, using the most efficient and safest reactors in the world. This is good news for a country that has a steep projected increase in energy demand, and we certainly wouldn't like to see this demand met by burning more fossil fuels than it does already.

 

 


Australian Carbon Tax

March 3, 2011 03:43 by Carbonica

The Australian government has announced plans to introduce a carbon tax from July 2012. It is not clear whether it will boost carbon trading and encourage companies to reduce their emissions or it will simply add to the state coffers.  

Traditionally the idea of a carbon tax has been viewed as a knee-jerk reaction of the political classes to force companies to reduce emissions, versus the more progressive cap-and-trade approach which generates significant funding for renewables projects in the developing world. However both can work together if the revenue raised from the carbon tax is used to fund emission reduction projects. There is a big question mark of course as to how this can be implemented in practice.

A carbon tax can only achieve emission reductions if it's sufficiently high to make an impact on a company's turnover. In other words the carbon price per metric tonne emitted must be such that the total carbon tax bill for an average emitter amounts to a significant percentage of the turnover, otherwise there would be no real incentive to make a serious effort to curb emissions (which can be costly to implement). The downside of a high carbon tax is that there can be implications for the end consumer of goods and services in higher prices and a decrease in competitiveness.

Effectively emissions reductions can be very costly and take a long period of time to implement because in most manufacturing processes changes require a timescale of years. Without a clear plan of how the carbon tax revenue will be allocated to drive the low-carbon economy and clean energy investment, it remains simply yet another tax.


Reopening the carbon registries

February 1, 2011 03:30 by Carbonica

It is expected that the registries in the UK, Germany and France will reopen either later this week or next week at the latest. The disruption of spot trading will not even dent a market where 90% of the volume is traded in derivatives, but the real damage is to the credibility of the system.

It's unlikely that the registries of countries where security measures are lax will reopen anytime soon or perhaps even ever. After all, reputable trading firms need not use those registries and all carbon credits can be securely kept in the registries of the countries where the main carbon exchanges are located ie. UK and France.

 


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The physical reality of the carbon credit

January 28, 2011 03:42 by Carbonica

By B Bell

My eye caught an exchange in the Letters section of the FT where two readers write in about the problems in the carbon markets.

One said that the reason why the concept fails is because a carbon credit has no physical reality attached to it. Another replies today saying that financial instruments lack a physical reality but that the carbon markets failed because credits were designed to be used (or retired as they say in the industry), like fishing licences, not traded endlessly for profit.

I think both readers miss the point.

Carbon credits do have a physical reality. They enable compliance buyers to emit a set amount of CO2 that in the manufacturing process does have a very tangible physical form. Just like a financial instrument such an insurance policy does not have any physical reality until it is activated in the form of a claim for a loss, which is when it becomes connected to the real world, in the same way a carbon credit connects directly with GHG emissions and our impact on our climate.

At the point of origination, they provide the funding for a very physical reality, say in the form of a renewable energy project, that would not happen without those funds.

The present problems are not caused by the fundamental concept of the credit, they are due to the poor security of some of the national registries. It is true that carbon credits do not lend themselves to trading as much as equity for example. Equities can go up in value fairly linearly over the long term, whereas carbon credits are more likely to coast around reasonably fixed values so the amount of speculation that can go with it is more limited.

 

 


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