European dash for gas at odds with climate ambitions

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Written by Stefan Bößner

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 23:00

SEI 2016 blog Boessner LNGThe Arctic Lady, an LNG tanker registered in Norway. Flickr / Kees Torn

The EU’s energy and climate policies, although often portrayed as being two sides of the same coin, are still not sufficiently harmonized. The new LNG and gas storage strategy is a case in point.

The European Union often claims leadership on climate change. The EU not only saved the Kyoto Protocol by convincing Russia to join but also pushed for an ambitious climate agreement prior to the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) last December. It is the only developed economy of comparable size that sources 26% of its energy needs from low-carbon sources and its 2030 goals to reduce emissions by 40% are among the most ambitious in the world. So far so good.

But despite those ambitions, the EU is likely to miss its contribution to limit global warming to two degrees (as decided upon in the Paris Agreement). And while some member states demand to raise the EU’s climate ambitions others refuse to do so, illustrating existing frictions between EU and member state policy making. But the EU itself is not without fault either. The European Commission also pursues conflicting aims sometimes in its climate and energy policies.

In principle there is no reason why climate and energy policies should not work well together. With regard to climate change policies, the EU aims to achieve a low-carbon economy by 2050 by cutting its emission by 80%-95, while its energy policy is pursued with the three pronged approach of security of supply, competitiveness and decarbonization. The recent Energy Union project – set to streamline individual member states’ energy policies which are often pursued out of national interest instead of mutual solidarity – even calls itself a “framework strategy for a resilient energy union with a forward looking climate change policy.”

However, the Commission’s recent EU strategy for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas storage is an example of a policy initiative that contradicts the EU’s climate ambitions as evidenced by its Communication concerning the Paris Agreement.

Source: Energy Post, Belgium
Language: English

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