gas pipeline

Gas ‘goldrush’ in wake of Ukraine conflict jeopardises climate goals

The energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a “goldrush for gas” that risks jeopardising climate change goals, a report from Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has found.

With governments scrambling to shore up their domestic energy supplies, many have doubled down on fossil fuel extraction while delaying climate action plans.

The 2022 update of the IEA’s ‘Net Zero by 2050’ road map shows that due to accelerating reductions in the cost of renewables and storage and other technologies, the total gas use globally by 2030 needs to be at least 30 per cent below 2021 levels - about 45 per cent faster than estimated a year ago.

However, massive expansion of LNG plans could harm this goal, with the CAT analysis finding that the facilities currently under construction – coupled with future expansion plans – would significantly increase emissions beyond the maximum thresholds contained in the Paris Agreement.

It is estimated that by 2030, oversupply could reach almost five times the EU’s current imports of gas from Russia last year and over double Russia’s total exports.

Following its invasion of Ukraine, and the consequent sanctions by many European countries, by October this year Russian gas had plummeted to 7.5 per cent of Europe's gas imports, down from 40 per cent in recent years.

Despite numerous international agreements made at Cop26 last year, the world is still heading for 2.4°C of warming under current 2030 targets – the same temperature increase predicted as last year.

The CAT report suggests that warming could be capped at 1.8°C, if all targets under discussion are fully implemented, unchanged from last year. Stronger 2030 targets and policy implementation are still needed to make these pledges believable.

“The evidence could not be any clearer today. There can be no new fossil gas development projects if we are to meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement,” the report said.

“The IEA’s updated net zero emissions scenario shows fossil gas has reached peak demand and should now be swiftly phased out. Fossil gas demand needs to be reduced by at least 30 per cent 2021 levels by 2030 and more than 60 per cent by 2035.

“We are witnessing a major push for fossil gas across the world – in Europe, Africa, North America and Asia – which could cause global emissions to breach dangerous levels. Increasing our reliance on fossil gas cannot be the solution to today’s climate and energy crises anywhere.”

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