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24 July | Regulation

G20 nations fail to reach agreement on fossil fuel cuts

Credit: Poetra RH via Shutterstock

Members of the G20 failed to reach an agreement on Saturday on the global phase-out of fossil fuels, after some countries moved to block specific proposals. 

Talks broke down at the major economies meeting in India, exasperating climate scientists and activists as the world grapples with increasingly extreme weather events. Member states account for more than three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Proposals to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 resulted in state officials issuing only an outcome statement and a chair summary of the talks, instead of a joint communiqué, at the end of the four-day-long meeting in India’s coastal state of Goa. If states had reached a unanimous agreement on the concerns discussed, they would instead issue a joint communiqué. 

“We had a complete agreement on 22 out of 29 paragraphs, and seven paragraphs constitute the Chair summary,” Indian Power Minister R K Singh said via Reuters.

2 August | Regulation

EU adopts sustainability reporting standards to encourage sustainable finance

The EU has announced the adoption of sustainability reporting standards, which will require companies to provide information on various environmental, social and governance issues. All companies subject to the bloc’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive will be required to adhere to the standards.  

The EU designed the standards so that investors and consumers can access a fuller picture of the sustainability impact of companies they are investing in. “They strike the right balance between limiting the burden on reporting companies while at the same time enabling companies to show the efforts they are making to meet the green deal agenda, and accordingly have access to sustainable finance,” said Mairead McGuiness, the EU’s Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union.  

Large companies will be required to apply in the form of annual reports, starting in the 2024 financial year, with reports being published in 2025. Smaller companies will have another two years before they are required to begin reporting.

21 July | Russia

Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia to end Russian grid reliance in 2025

The Prime Minister of Estonia has said that the Baltic states will decouple themselves from the Russian power grid in 2025. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have relied on Russia’s power grid since splitting from the Soviet Union in 1991. 

The three countries signed a deal aided by Poland and the European Commission in 2018 to receive €1.6bn ($1.61bn) in European funding for power grid infrastructure upgrades, under the condition that they decouple from the Russian grid by 2025. 

Lithuania had lobbied for the other two Baltic states to split off from the Russian grid by the beginning of 2024. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, however, told Reuters that Estonia will suffer the most from an earlier decoupling. “I understand that Lithuania wants to have it faster, but the question is that… Estonia would pay the highest price for this in terms of the (cost) but also in terms of risks of blackouts,” said Kallas at the 2023 Vilnius Nato summit.

31 July | Hydrogen

US energy companies call for widening of hydrogen tax incentives

A number of US energy companies have begun lobbying the US Government to widen its tax incentives for the hydrogen industry.   

Currently, green hydrogen producers receive financial incentives under President Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), but several producers are calling for hydrogen produced from other sources including fossil fuels to be included in the tax incentives.   

The US Treasury Department is due to issue additional tax guidelines next month that will determine which hydrogen projects qualify under the IRA. The most stringent proposal would only accommodate for green hydrogen.  

According to industry lobbyists, requiring hydrogen plants to operate solely from zero-carbon energy sources would require the plants to shut down when renewable energy is not available.   

They are instead calling for an annual matching system that would allow producers to purchase credits for renewable electricity in amounts equal to their yearly energy consumption. Others within the industry are also calling for an hourly accounting approach.

24 July | Batteries

Ford EV battery partnership with CATL under investigation

Two US congressional committees announced on Friday that they are investigating an electric vehicle (EV) battery partnership between US automotive company Ford and Chinese battery company CATL.  

In a letter to Ford, congressional representatives Mike Gallagher and Jason Smith, chairs of the Select Committee on China and the Committee on Ways and Means, respectively, have questioned the deal with CATL.   

Gallagher and Smith have accused battery giant CATL of being aligned with the Chinese Communist Party and being connected with companies using forced labour in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. 

The two congressional representatives have also called out Ford’s reliance on Chinese competency and manufacturing, noting in their letter that while the executives of the proposed project will be US-based Ford employees, “several hundred” of the 2,500 jobs to come from the deal will be given to CATL employees from the People’s Republic of China”, who will be needed to “maintain operations in the long term”.