That system, however, is in deep trouble. … On April 16, the European Parliament was on the verge of temporarily tightening the supply of allowances to boost the price of carbon and shore up the ailing market. But opposition by countries led by Poland — a nation strongly dependent on heavy-emitting coal power plants — defeated the measure. The rejection sent the price of carbon plummeting to a historic low of roughly $3.60.
In case you missed it, after the vote David Roberts provided some much-needed context on the program. [Grist]
First off, the ETS is not a mess/broken/dying, it’s working like it’s supposed to. The goal of a cap-and-trade system is not to create a high price on carbon, or a low price on carbon, or any particular price on carbon. It is to reduce carbon emissions along a pathway specified by a series of targets (17 percent by 2020, etc.). The EU is on that pathway. Emissions are expected to come in under the cap, which means the cap-and-trade program is working. …
Now, it is true that the current price on carbon in the EU is not high enough to drive the kind of long-term investments that will be needed to lower emissions substantially by 2030 or 2050. There are legitimate timing issues here: If those investments aren’t begun now, then later, when carbon targets tighten and carbon prices rise, there’s going to be a crunch.
One way to address this problem would be to switch from a cap-and-trade system to a carbon tax, which allegedly offers price certainty. …
The other way to solve the problem — the obvious way, the correct way, which no one is talking about for reasons unclear to me — is to lower the carbon caps. If it’s “too cheap” to hit current targets, then current targets are insufficiently ambitious. If EU members want a higher carbon price to drive more clean-energy investment, they should reduce emissions more. That, not the failure to pass some unholy kludge, is what people ought to be yelling at the European Parliament about. …
I think everyone should take a deep breath. There are certainly positive ways to reform the ETS: reduce the allocation of free permits and the use of offsets, tighten the rules on those offsets, and perhaps put in a carbon-price floor. But the goal should not be to tweak short-term carbon prices. Remember, the point of a carbon-trading system is not the prices, it’s the targets.
The Canadian government objects to a European plan to designate dirty tar sands oil from Alberta as, well, dirty. [Reuters]
A new report from NASA says climate change may bring extreme rainfall to the rainy tropics and drought to more temperate areas. [LA Times]
Another new study found that Hawai’i could expect to experience more extreme tropical cyclones as the Pacific warms. [Discovery News]
Expect legislative action on a few bills that would ease hydropower approvals and promote energy efficiency. [National Journal]
The Nevada state house is holding a hearing today on legislation that would remove loopholes from the state’s clean energy standard. [Las Vegas Sun]
Al Gore said he generally admires Canada’s approach to policy, however: “The outlier in recent years, of course, has been the climate issue and particularly as addressed by the present government.” [Globe and Mail]
Mr. Gore also hopes that Rupert Murdoch will see the reality of climate change: “There is still hope that he will awaken to the reality of this … It would make a huge difference if he would.” [The Hill]
Germany’s first offshore wind farm, the massive Alpha Ventus, has been feeding 15 percent more energy into the grid than expected. [CleanTechnica]
On Friday, the largest solar plant in California had a ribbon cutting ceremony, though it has been producing at maximum capacity for several hours a day since February. [EarthTechling]
Sharp broke another solar efficiency record, with a 37.9 percent triple-junction, non-concentrator solar cell. [Solar Love]
How thin can a solar panel get? Try an atom’s width. [CleanTechnica]