Three moves to turn COP22 into action

Last year, it was Paris. The climate change deal – struck by the almost 200 national delegations – has changed the perspective in which policymakers, and industry, look at addressing climate challenge: since then, there is a pre- and a post-Paris Agreement era.

Now, it is Marrakesh. The almost 200 governments meeting in Morocco’s former imperial city will have to get to the nitty gritty of how to deliver on the commitments they made to fulfil the Paris Agreement .

As with Paris, I am now really looking forward to going to Marrakesh and speaking at the event that GasNaturally is organizing to focus on how the combination between gas and renewable energy can help face the climate challenge while still providing enough energy for the growing world population.

Indeed, GasNaturally plans to bring the gas industry’s voice to Marrakesh. We welcomed the Paris Agreement, as it is truly global. Now, we believe that we can help turn words into action. With the three following concrete actions, countries could set themselves on the right path to limit emissions, while providing the energy needed by a growing world population:

First: they should ditch coal and switch to gas to produce electricity. Too many countries are still building new coal power plants. Gas-fired power plants emit half the CO2, are quicker and cheaper to build, can benefit from a well-connected, flexible gas infrastructure and can be located close to consumers. Unlike coal, gas emits much less of the major components of outdoor air pollution and almost no particulates: substituting coal with gas would have a substantially positive impact on air quality and consequently on human health, especially in urban areas.

Second: they should embrace policies that facilitate the combination of gas and renewables in their energy mix. Renewables are growing exponentially. To deploy wind and solar at the scale we expect, we will need some balancing: another energy source will have to fill the no-sun, no-wind gaps to ensure that electricity production meets demand at all times, preventing blackouts. Gas is the best source of such needed flexibility. A gas-fired power plant can provide additional electricity in a matter of minutes and gas networks are geared to deliver on that flexibility.

Third: they can prepare for the long term, by politically supporting – today – investments in new technologies to cut emissions even further. Biogas and carbon capture and storage (CCS) are two important examples, as is power-to-gas. We are not starting from scratch: our industry is already significantly investing to develop these solutions, and, with its deep understanding of geology, is best placed when it comes to CCS.

According to the International Energy Agency’s two degree Celsius scenario, we will use much less coal, but more natural gas in 2040 than we have in 2013, to cover 22% of the world’s primary energy demand. This clearly shows that natural gas has a major part to play in the transition to a lower carbon economy and contributes to the solution we all want.

By François-Régis Mouton, Chairman of GasNaturally