Gas industry helping EU to meet Paris Agreement’s goals

The gas industry offers a wide range of immediate and long-term affordable and innovative solutions to reduce emissions and help the EU meet the Paris Agreement’s goals, Chairman of GasNaturally François-Régis Mouton said on Wednesday (18 October) in Brussels.

“Let’s not dream about what we could be doing in 2050, it is also important what we can do now”, Mouton told delegates at the Energy and Climate Summit organized by the not-for-profit think tank Friends of Europe.

The Summit, which attracts EU and international policy makers, NGOs and industry representatives, took place in a strategic moment, between the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming and the COP24, where countries are expected to adopt a “RuleBook” to implement the Paris Agreement’s goals.

In its Manifesto launched during the event, GasNaturally explains that the gas industry offers an immediate response to the IPCC’s call for urgent action to reduce emissions. Gas is a fast and cost-efficient solution to reduce emissions as of today. For example, the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) in passenger vehicles could reduce CO2 emissions by 7% compared with diesel and 23% compared with petrol while blending just 20% of renewable gases with natural gas, greenhouse emissions in passenger cars could be reduced by a further 17%. Moreover, the EU could capitalize on the existing gas refueling stations and the existing gas storage to reduce emissions in the transport sector in a cost-efficient way.

Affordability of energy sources is a key point for both the gas industry and the European Commission. “People will not accept to sacrifice their prosperity to save the planet, it is a fact”, said at the event Mauro Petriccione Director-General at the European Commission’s Directorate- General for Climate Action. Gas is in fact on average up to four times cheaper for industry than electricity.

Speaking about the plans to phase out coal by 2030, Melanie Kenderdine, Principal of the Energy Future Initiative, said that the transition from coal to gas in countries like the US is already leading to substantial emission reductions. Shifting from coal to gas over the last decade has cut the US emissions by 60%, Mouton said, adding that these results could be easily replicated in Europe.

Panelists further discussed whether the EU needs to adhere to a technology-neutral policy in the energy sector.  “Electrification should not be a mantra”, François-Regis Mouton said, adding that the EU needs to put in place a policy framework which allows different pathways to emission reductions to be equally developed. Electrons should not be antagonised to low carbon molecules, which have a huge potential in emission reductions. Gas not only serves as essential backup for variable renewable electricity, but it offers the possibility to store energy on a large scale through technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and power-to-gas which converts electricity into renewable gas.  Mouton was supported by Frank Rijsberman, Director General at the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), who added that technology neutrality is key in developing a low-carbon society.

The European gas industry proposes to expand the EU R&D&I programmes and include technologies such as CCS, Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS), gas-to-hydrogen, power-to-gas, and biogas. The IPCC report includes CCS in its three out of four scenarios for 2050. The role of CCS in the energy transition is major particularly in relation to energy-intensive industries that do not have other options to cut emissions. Without CCS there is a high risk that energy intensive industries will outsource their production outside the EU.