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22 September | Emissions

Report: Majority of carbon offset projects globally are “likely junk” 

Credit: Richard Whitcombe via Shutterstock

The “vast majority” of environmental projects most commonly used within the voluntary carbon market (VCM) to offset greenhouse gas emissions seem to have “fundamental failings” and cannot be relied upon to tackle global warming, according to a joint investigation from the Guardian and non-profit climate watchdog Corporate Accountability. 

The investigation analysed the top 50 emission offset projects, selected because they have sold the most carbon credits within the global VCM, and found that most of them exaggerate climate benefits and underestimate the potential harm caused by the project’s activity. 

The most popular projects traded globally include forestry schemes, hydroelectric dams, solar and wind farms, waste disposal, and greener household appliance schemes across 20 countries, most of which have developing economies. The data comes from Allied Offsets, the world’s biggest and most comprehensive emissions trading database, which aggregates information about projects traded within the VCM from their inception. 

13 October | Conflict

No power, water or fuel for Gaza until Hamas frees hostages, Israel says 

Palestinian civilians in Gaza face a humanitarian catastrophe after the Israeli Government blocked all electricity, water and fuel imports to the enclave in an attempt to leverage hostages back from Islamist militant group Hamas. 

The only remaining power station in Gaza ran out of fuel on Wednesday, leaving the district with no sustained source of electricity. 

Israel’s Energy Minister Israel Katz said in a tweet: “Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home. Humanitarian for humanitarian. And no one will preach us morals.” 

Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israeli civilians living along the country’s border with Gaza on Saturday, killing at least 1,300 Israeli citizens and injuring many more. At least 200 people were taken hostage by Hamas and are now being held in Palestine in what has been described as the “most complex hostage crisis” in Israel's history. 

29 September | Transition

IEA critical minerals summit: six key actions outlined, Chinese dominance draws warnings 

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) first Critical Minerals and Clean Energy summit, held on Thursday in Paris, France, has produced a list of six key actions aimed at ensuring more secure, sustainable and reliable supply chains. 

The first action focuses on diversifying mineral supplies. To support countries’ clean energy ambitions, it will be necessary to significantly increase supplies of many minerals and metals, the IEA said.

“The level of over-concentration that we see in critical minerals markets today is unlike that for any other major commodity we have come to rely on in the modern world,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. 

The second underscores the importance of recycling materials to alleviate strains on supply. The IEA also announced that it will undertake a study to examine effective approaches to recycling, although no time frame for completion or publication was indicated. 

10 October | Regulation

California regulator proposes $45m fine for PG&E over 2021 wildfires 

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a staff proposal on Monday seeking to impose a $45m penalty against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for its role in the 2021 Dixie Fire. 

If given approval by the CPUC Commission, the fine would see PG&E pay a $45m shareholder-funded fine. According to a press statement from the CPUC, $2.5m of this would go to the California General Fund, with another $2.5m going to tribes impacted by the Dixie Fire to help pay for remediations. The remaining $40m would pay for capital expenditures to transition records to electronic format. 

Enforcement staff at the CPUC are recommending the penalty under an Administrative Consent Order (ACO) and Agreement, which it says is in line with its commitment to safety. The ACO and Agreement approach streamlines enforcement actions for the benefit of Californians. 

25 September | Nuclear

Italy considers return to nuclear power 

Italy’s Government launched its National Platform for Sustainable Nuclear Power on Thursday as the country looks to reintroduce nuclear energy to its power mix after a decades-long hiatus. 

The first meeting of the government platform sought to establish a road map for the potential reintroduction of the energy source. The electoral programme of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government had already suggested a return to nuclear could be likely as Italy looks to decarbonise its electricity mix. 

During 2022 election campaigns, leaders from all three now-formed coalition parties focused on nuclear power as a key way to ensure energy security for the country and reduce dependence on Russian gas in the wake of the war in Ukraine. 

“We aim to eliminate coal first, then oil, and conserve gas until renewables are developed enough to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050,” Environment Minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin said at the meeting.