Pausing LNG export approvals will carry long-term risks for our allies and ability to meet global climate goals

The Biden Administration’s pause on LNG exports will place our allies at the mercy of authoritarian regimes and won’t advance the fight against climate change

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has paused approvals of liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities, injecting insecurity into global energy markets and jeopardizing the goals of the landmark COP28 climate agreement signed in December. That agreement recognized that natural gas is essential to the worldwide energy transition by providing a cleaner fuel source than coal while providing critical energy security.  

Unfortunately, this decision is not based on science and will have unintended impacts on the climate. It will also cut off our allies as they seek secure, less carbon-intensive energy sources to keep their lights on. The Washington Post Editorial Board sees this decision for what it is, "It's an election-year sop to climate activists that will do much more to unsettle vital US alliances than to save the planet." 

Pausing LNG exports will resurface global energy insecurity 

The rise of global instability in recent years has shown that the world lacks sufficient access to reliable, affordable, and cleaner sources that can adequately replace coal power generation, the largest source of power-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If we restrict our gas exports, we'll leave our allies vulnerable to dirtier forms of energy, such as coal, and to many of the worst actors on the world stage.  

Two-thirds of the world's economically recoverable gas is in just four countries: Russia, Iran, Qatar, and the U.S. When Russia weaponized its reserves after invading Ukraine – beginning with cutting off its gas supply to Europe – the U.S. quickly stepped forward and supplied LNG to replace methane-intensive Russian gas. This support to our allies accounted for 40% of EU LNG imports in 2022. The New York Times reported that European allies are worried that this decision can undermine their progress to wean themselves off Russian gas.  

The Biden Administration's pause on LNG exports has the potential to resurface the kind of global energy instability we saw following the war in Ukraine. If we restrict our gas exports, our allies will be at the mercy of authoritarian regimes like Putin's.  

Increasing LNG exports helps keep energy prices low at home and abroad 

PAGE and its members share the DOE's goal of ensuring affordable and stable energy prices for Americans. However, the pause of LNG exports could devastate the buildout of much-needed infrastructure to ensure Americans have reliable access to energy.  

The conjecture that LNG exports drive up US energy prices is also inaccurate. According to the Center for Strategic and International Affairs (CSIS),increased U.S. LNG exports have not affected energy prices at home over the past five years.  

LNG can help phase out foreign coal and achieve our climate goals 

U.S. LNG also helped stabilize gas and electricity prices for customers in Europe. A pause or restriction of U.S. LNG capabilities risks destabilizing gas markets in Europe and beyond, undoing years of responsible energy policy.  

Halting LNG exports will likely result in a continued increase in foreign coal. In 2021, coal accounted for 44% of emissions from fuel combustion while only comprising 27% of the total energy supply. By comparison, gas' share (22%) was lower than its supply (24%). 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) also reports that coal production is responsible for more methane than gas. Chinese coal production alone emits 15% of the world's energy-sector methane. This dwarfs LNG liquefaction and shipping methane emissions, which comprise just 0.3%. Meanwhile, Germany and other EU members have activated once-dormant coal plants to ensure their economies have enough energy to support their citizens during peak demand this winter. 

The pause of LNG exports will only exacerbate this trend and likely make achieving the targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement unfeasible.  

The Bottom Line 

Energy security, cost, and climate action are all critical factors for achieving a sustainable global energy transition. Meeting a strict regulatory process and being produced and transported by responsible companies, U.S. natural gas is the only pragmatic solution to stabilize the energy landscape.  

The Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE) strongly opposes the Biden Administration's unfortunate decision and vows to continue fighting for responsible energy policies that protect national security and advance climate solutions.  

Bipartisan event confirms natural gas is an integral part of the clean energy transition

Permitting reform can unlock the potential of U.S. LNG to achieve our collective energy and climate goals

At COP28 in Dubai, the Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE) spread awareness about natural gas’ potential to decarbonize the world by replacing dirty coal-fired power plants.  

These efforts had an impact as world leaders, for the first time, called for investment in transition fuels, such as natural gas, among other priorities in addressing climate change. In fact, the final agreement that leaders forged acknowledges this directly, recognizing “that transitional fuels can play a role in facilitating the energy transition while ensuring energy security.”   

After COP28 solidified the consensus for pragmatic decarbonization, Congressional, industry, and labor leaders convened in Washington D.C. to discuss the action needed by the U.S. to meet their global obligations to reduce emissions. Through a panel discussion focused on “Perspectives from COP28: A Monumental Moment to Reach Climate Goals,” permitting reform was highlighted as the key to unlocking the potential of U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG) to provide energy security and achieve our collective climate goals.  

Natural gas as a clean energy solution 

Some advocates have argued that renewables are the only solution for reducing emissions. While renewables are noteworthy successes, they cannot generate the baseload energy we need without support from more reliable energy sources such as natural gas. Scott Peters (D-CA) agrees that “the promise to eliminate fossil fuels is aspirational, not operational” and that we need to focus on reducing emissions through a pragmatic approach. 

Natural gas can complement and is critical in assisting the buildout of renewables. As Toby Rice, President and CEO of EQT noted, “people are recognizing that wind and solar are not enough. They are great solutions, but they need heavyweight support. And the heavyweight support is natural gas replacing foreign coal.” 

The environmental benefits of coal-to-gas switching are clear. Natural gas produces half the amount of CO2 per unit of energy than coal does when burned, making it an ideal near-term energy solution. John Curtis (R-UT) recognizes these benefits, stating that “until we turn our discussion to reducing emissions and not reducing choices, you’re just not going to make progress.” 

In fact, the U.S. has experienced a remarkable 17% decline in GHG emissions over the past 15 years, with 65% of all power sector emissions reductions due to coal-to-gas-switching. But we cannot achieve our global climate goals without replacing the dirtiest coal plants worldwide, which is why we must look beyond our borders and export more LNG to our allies in need.  

According to Alan Armstrong, President and CEO of Williams, “our goal should be to reduce emissions and that is what we are focused on across the pipeline industry and the gas production industry. It’s clear that natural gas, in partnership with renewables and alongside bipartisan permitting reform, is key to a lower-carbon energy system.” 

The rise of coal power generation 

The rise of global coal use makes U.S. LNG exports even more imperative. In 2022, global coal consumption rose by 3.3% to 8.3 billion tonnes, a new all-time high. China and India have seen the most significant increase in coal use, while several European countries have reopened once dormant coal plants to ensure they have enough energy for the winter. 

Without U.S. LNG, our allies will be forced to rely on energy resources from less stable and undemocratic energy hubs such as China, Russia, Iran, and Qatar. This not only is a direct threat to our allies, but it also jeopardizes our own national security. To maintain energy superiority over our adversaries, we’re going to need permitting reform to revamp our production capabilities. 

We need permitting reform to achieve our energy and climate goals 

“Permitting reform is going to be absolutely critical for achieving all these goals that we’re talking about,” says Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. That’s because today energy projects can take years to receive approval, and endless red tape and lawsuits are further delaying and even sometimes preventing the development of critical pipeline infrastructure all together.  

This puts us “at a competitive disadvantage” says David Valadao (R-CA) and makes it “impossible for us to produce because either our energy prices are too high, or we just can’t get the energy to those factories.” 

We need Washington to finally prioritize permitting reform so we’re able to provide the energy our allies around the world desperately need. “Permitting reform cannot be partisan and it should not be partisan,” argues Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA). “We need to move forward quickly on that issue as well as talking about grid reliability.” And “if we don’t have permitting reform,” says Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), “if we don’t have infrastructure built for the transmission lines, it doesn’t matter everything else that we’re doing.”  

The solution to addressing the climate crisis and restoring energy security is at our fingertips, we just need to utilize our resources. “There’s an urgency to this that we need to underscore,” says Mary Landrieu (D-LA).” There are a lot of good ideas on the table, but we must do this on a scale and at a speed never been done before. This is about American leadership, and this is about Congressional leadership.” 

PAGE Reaffirms the Global Importance of U.S. LNG 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact: Allison Kopp, 678-313-2966 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 27, 2024) – Today, the Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE) issued the below statement in regard to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) temporary pause on pending approvals of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. 

We strongly oppose the Administration’s misguided decision to halt U.S. LNG export approvals. As we emphasized in our January 19, 2024 letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, restricting the export capacity for U.S. LNG will have serious foreign policy implications and compromise future decarbonization progress. 

Two-thirds of the world's economically recoverable gas is in just four countries: Russia, Iran, Qatar, and the U.S. When Russia weaponized its reserves after invading Ukraine – beginning with cutting off its gas supply to Europe – the U.S. quickly supplied LNG to replace methane-intensive Russian gas. This support to our allies accounted for 40% of EU LNG imports in 2022. The new U.S. LNG export pause has the potential to create massive global energy instability once again, as first instigated by President Putin.  

If we restrict our gas exports, we'll leave allies vulnerable to authoritarian regimes, dirtier forms of energy, such as coal, and energy instability. The very fact that the DOE’s pause of applications includes a national security exception proves how vital this energy source is to our allies in maintaining global security. 

Members of PAGE share the DOE’s goal of ensuring affordable and stable energy prices for Americans. However, chilling export development could have a detrimental effect on the much-needed buildout of infrastructure to ensure Americans’ reliable access to energy. And the conjecture that LNG exports drive up U.S. energy prices is inaccurate. According to the Center for Strategic and International Affairs (CSIS) over the past five years, the increase in U.S. LNG exports did not have any effect on energy prices at home. 

The U.S. should expand LNG exports to replace foreign coal. In 2021, coal accounted for 44% of emissions from fuel combustion while only comprising 27% of the total energy supply. Meanwhile, gas' share (22%) was lower than its supply (24%). The IEA also reports that coal and oil production are responsible for more methane than gas, with Chinese coal production alone emitting 15% of the world's energy-sector methane. This dwarfs LNG liquefaction and shipping methane emissions, which comprise just 0.3%. 

Energy security, cost, and climate action are all critical factors for a global energy transition. Guided by stringent regulatory standards and produced and transported by responsible companies, U.S. gas is the only solution that accomplishes this goal. The Biden Administration should not weaponize U.S. energy policy to win an election; this is dangerous for our allies abroad and for global efforts to combat climate change. 

PAGE will continue to closely monitor and engage with the administration to ensure this pause is not only temporary but also short lived, so it doesn’t permanently affect our national security. 

About PAGE  

The Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE) is a coalition of responsible energy companies, allied NGOs, labor unions and leading climate advocates dedicated to reducing global emissions by promoting U.S. policies that protect the climate, strengthen the economy, lower energy costs and bolster energy security through the production and export of cleaner natural gas. Learn more at https://www.pagecoalition.com/.  

Download the press release

PAGE Letter to Secretary Granholm on Export Approvals

The Honorable Jennifer Granholm
Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20585

Dear Secretary Granholm:

On behalf of the Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE), we write in response to recent reports that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is considering updating the criteria it uses to determine whether an application for exporting liquified natural gas (LNG) is in the public interest. DOE should not pursue a moratorium or de facto pause on issuing new export approvals during its consideration of additional public interest criteria and should not pursue a review process that results in a de facto moratorium on new approvals. We urge DOE to consider the following:

U.S. LNG provides an unprecedented opportunity to support our allies as they look for secure and less carbon intensive sources of energy. Global instability has made clear that the world lacks sufficient access to reliable, affordable, cleaner sources that can adequately replace coal-power generation, the largest source of power-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By introducing more supply to the world through U.S. LNG, we can bolster energy security while rapidly replacing coal.

When it comes to addressing global climate change, U.S. LNG is the single most powerful tool the world has to reduce global emissions by displacing coal use around the globe. Not only is natural gas a cleaner fuel, natural gas produced in the United States also carries a lower GHG emissions profile than the gas produced in most other regions of the world.

Over the last 15 years, prominent countries including Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States have successfully lowered GHG emissions, with natural gas playing a major role. In the U.S., which led reductions, 65% of the power sector emissions reductions came from coal-to-gas switching between 2005 and 2020.1 In fact, the impact of just U.S. coal-to-gas switching was roughly the same as the progress of the other top five countries in emissions reduction combined.

Yet, global conflicts and supply instability have impacted the progress made and threatened the climate goals that we share. In 2021, coal accounted for 44% of emissions from fuel combustion, despite comprising just 27% of the global energy supply,2 and its usage is on the rise. Coal consumption increased 3.3% in 2022, to 8.3 billion tonnes, reaching an all-time high.3 In the first half of 2023, demand for coal from the two largest consumers, China and India, grew by over 5%, more than offsetting declines elsewhere.

There is a proven solution that can be replicated beyond our shores. Global power sector emissions would be reduced by 30% if the world’s top 5% worst emitting power plants switched to natural gas.4 And emissions could be reduced up to 50% if Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is applied to those power plants. LNG from the United States could single-handedly underpin this effort, meaning that incremental U.S. LNG could have roughly the same impact as decarbonizing the entire United States.  

Two-thirds of the world’s economically recoverable natural gas is concentrated in just four countries: Russia, Iran, Qatar, and the United States. Guided by stringent regulatory standards, and produced and transported by responsible companies, the U.S. has the resources, solutions, and capabilities to quadruple its LNG capacity and provide a stable supply to our global allies who also want to decarbonize, reduce their reliance on Russian gas, and grow their economies.

In addition to its significant decarbonization potential, U.S. LNG holds vast potential for increasing employment and economic growth here at home while providing energy security to our allies.  

The cumulative contribution to U.S. economic growth from the addition of more LNG plants is estimated to range from $716 billion to $1.267 trillion between 2013 and 2050, supporting 2 million to 3.9 million jobs during that period.5

Already deep into an energy crisis, Europe, fell deeper in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent reduction in Russian gas supply to Europe pushed prices to historical highs. While the United States was able to divert existing LNG to Europe, with LNG imports into EU-27 countries and the U.K. increasing by 73% (6.3 Bcf/d) in 2022 compared with 2021,6 the lack of meaningful incremental supply in the global market and Europe’s limited electric grid infrastructure capacity had the expected impacts—coal consumption reaching all‑time highs (and growing) in 2023. This does not happen if feasible alternatives exist at scale. 

The U.S. has the potential to greatly expand LNG exports by 2030. This would be crucial in meeting our parallel goals of displacing global coal (or as recent years show, tamping coal growth), while also shoring up the energy security of our allies.

Some of our closest allies, including important allies in the Indo-Pacific, rely on imports for upwards of 90% of their energy. U.S. LNG provides an unprecedented opportunity to help our friends and allies disentangle from other dirtier sources of energy and hostile nations.

This context was a key recognition of COP 28 and was memorialized in the UAE Consensus, which stated that transitional fuels such as U.S. LNG can “play a role in facilitating the energy transition while ensuring energy security.” 

We urge the Biden-Harris Administration to heed the global call for solutions like U.S. LNG and avoid advancing misguided policies that inhibit the U.S. from contributing to decarbonization efforts beyond our borders. The decarbonization, employment, and geopolitical benefits of U.S. LNG are unmatched.

Sincerely,

Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE)

cc: President Joe Biden; U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken; and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin; U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry; Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi.

Download the letter here.


  1. EIA (2021), Electric power sector CO2 emissions drop as generation mix shifts from coal to natural gas, https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=48296
  2. IEA (2023), Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Energy Data Explorer, IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-tools/greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-energy-data-explorer.
  3. IEA (2023), Global coal demand set to remain at record levels in 2023, IEA, https://www.iea.org/news/global-coal-demand-set-to-remain-at-record-levels-in-2023.
  4. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/five-percent-power-plants-release-73-percent-global-electricity-production-emissions-180978355/.
  5. ICF (2018), Calculating the Economic Benefits of U.S. LNG Exports, Prepared for LNG Allies, https://www.lngallies.com/jobs.pdf.
  6. U.S. Energy Information Administration, Global liquefied natural gas trade volumes set a new record in 2022, https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=57000#.

Obama-era Energy Secretary: Natural gas is the ‘logical’ global energy transition plan

COP28 wrapped up in Dubai, burdened by an undeniable truth: the world is still not on pace to successfully limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

Fortunately, world leaders were open to pragmatic solutions and recognized that natural gas has a role in achieving the goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. Among those proponents was Obama-era Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who said natural gas is the "logical" clean energy transition plan.  

While some advocates have argued that renewables are the only solution for reducing emissions, the fact remains that they currently cannot generate the baseload energy that we need. As long as battery storage and transmission infrastructure challenges remain, renewables will remain a part of the solution, not the whole solution. 

"If the world's top 5% worst emitting coal-power plants switched to natural gas, it would reduce global power sector emissions by 30%."

At COP28, world leaders recognized that natural gas and renewables must complement each other to maintain energy security while working to transition to renewables and continue to provide the public with clean, affordable and reliable energy.  

Coal-to-Gas Switching at Home

The US has provided a model showing that low-carbon natural gas is a pivotal part of the global energy transition. This strategy involves expanding natural gas production while simultaneously phasing out coal power plants. The environmental benefits are clear – natural gas produces half the amount of CO2 per unit of energy than coal does when burned, making it an ideal near-term energy solution. 

The results have been exceptional over the last two decades, with the US achieving a historic 17% decline in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by switching from coal to natural gas while producing unprecedented cost savings for consumers. 

Furthermore, 65% of all US power generation emissions reductions over the last 15 years were driven by coal-to-gas switching. While this solution has led to significant emissions reductions at home, we need to look beyond our borders and export liquified natural gas (LNG) so we can replace the dirtiest coal-fired power plants worldwide. 

Export LNG to Reduce Emissions on a Global Scale

The need for cleaner natural gas on a global scale has never been more critical. Global coal consumption reached a new all-time high in 2022, increasing by 3.3% to 8.3 billion tons. 

Coal consumption is also responsible for about 40% of global GHG emissions, and supply chain and geopolitical challenges caused demand to increase by approximately 1.5% in the first half of 2023. Europe's energy crisis showed that countries are willing to revert to higher-emitting sources at the expense of cleaner options to stabilize energy flows. 

Remarkably, if the world's top 5% worst emitting coal-power plants switched to natural gas, it would reduce global power sector emissions by 30%. If that switch incorporates carbon capture and storage, this reduction would increase to nearly 50%.

Taking on Methane Emissions

Coal-to-gas switching would also put a significant dent in global methane emissions. According to Paul Bledsoe of the Progressive Policy Institute, "limiting methane will reduce near-term temperatures far more than any other action." 

Methane reduction is critical in countries like China, the world's largest coal producer, whose coal mines are responsible for over 15% of global energy sector methane emissions. Dirty plants like these must be replaced with a low-carbon alternative, and natural gas is the ideal solution. 

The good news is that the US natural gas industry is serious about reducing methane emissions and recognizes that this will further unlock natural gas's potential as a global climate solution. 

At COP28, 50 energy companies, including a Partnership to Address Global Emissions member, signed onto the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter to push methane abatement and other emissions reduction efforts across the industry. Alan Armstrong, CEO and President of Williams, said his company is "rapidly going after methane," having reduced its methane emissions by 16.5% in 2022.

The Missing Link: Reforming US Permitting Policies

For far too long, energy companies were excluded from conversations about solutions to address climate change. But COP28 gave the industry a seat at the table, allowing an opportunity to highlight the logic behind natural gas – it is the key to a successful global energy transition AND energy security. 

We must harness this momentum and urge policymakers in Washington to back permitting reform and expedite the approval process for long-awaited pipeline infrastructure. 

The US has the resources and can export enough LNG to the rest of the world to make achieving the Paris climate agreement a reality.

PAGE Statement on the Biden Administration’s Action to Reduce Methane Emissions from Oil and Natural Gas Operations

Today, the Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE) issued the following statement in response to the Biden Administration’s final rule regulating methane emissions, announced December 2, 2023, titled “Standards of Performance for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources and Emissions Guidelines for Existing Sources: Oil and Natural Gas Sector Climate Review”:

STATEMENT

Establishing verifiable methane standards is important to ensuring natural gas can continue to play a leading role in lowering power sector and industrial emissions. We recognize the Biden Administration’s leadership on the issue and share their goal of addressing methane. PAGE members have already taken significant steps to reduce methane emissions to almost negligible levels, helping establish U.S. natural gas as among the cleanest in the world.

Global energy instability has made clear the world lacks sufficient access to affordable, reliable, secure, and cleaner sources of energy, exacerbating the climate crisis as countries increasingly turn to coal. The U.S. has led the way in reducing CO2 emissions over the last 15 years, with 65% of all power generation emission reductions driven by coal-to-gas-switching. Containing the world’s largest gas reserves, the U.S. has a responsibility to provide this decarbonization solution to our allies around the world. Global power sector emissions would be reduced by 30% if the world’s top 5% worst emitting coal-powered plants switched to natural gas. U.S. LNG, combined with carbon capture, will enable countries to produce reliable, baseload electricity consistent with their zero-carbon emissions commitments. 

We look forward to working with world leaders at COP28, the Administration, and Congress as they collaborate on methane standards to help address this critical challenge of reducing global methane emissions. We are committed to innovative and effective methods to lower methane emissions as a part of our collective effort to tackle climate change.

About PAGE

PAGE is a coalition of responsible energy companies, allied NGOs, labor unions and leading climate advocates dedicated to reducing global emissions by promoting U.S. policies that protect the climate, strengthen the economy, lower energy costs and bolster energy security through the production and export of cleaner natural gas. PAGE members have done the following:

COP28: An opportunity to harness the capabilities of clean natural gas

The annual UN Climate Change Conference, or COP28, will commence November 30 – December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. As the world's largest climate change conference, business and government leaders will convene to discuss progress towards achieving the Paris Climate Agreement

While progress has been made in some countries, we are not currently on track to achieve our global emissions goals. According to the International Energy Agency's (IEA) updated Net Zero Roadmap, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the energy sector reached an all-time high of 37 billion tons in 2022, 1% above their pre-pandemic level. 

While various factors are to blame, a record-setting 3.3% increase in global coal consumption has perpetuated the rise of hazardous emissions. 

At COP28, the key message must be conveyed: natural gas is a cleaner and more reliable alternative to coal.

To reach the Paris Agreement's target to limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius, emissions need to peak before 2025 and be reduced by around 43% by 2030. That leaves a short window of opportunity that cannot be achieved without substantive policy redirection.  

However, there is a straightforward solution to this challenge – exporting US natural gas can help phase out global coal and drastically reduce emissions. This solution, proven in the US, should play a central role in the worldwide conversation at COP28.  

A breakthrough opportunity for the energy industry 

In COP's brief history, energy companies have not been included in conversations about solutions to address climate change. But with this year's conference taking place in a major energy-producing region, the industry has an unprecedented opportunity to help advance a low-carbon future. 

Sasha Mackler, Executive Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Energy Program, agreed that this will likely "lead to some quite dynamic discussion and hopefully some new shared understanding of how the oil and gas industry can be part of the solution when it comes to driving a net zero economy by mid-century." 

The good news is the US natural gas industry is already taking critical steps to produce cleaner and more reliable energy.

For the natural gas industry, this means leading conversations about how LNG is not only part of the clean energy future but is critical to its success.  

Clean LNG on the world stage 

At COP28, the key message must be conveyed: natural gas is a cleaner and more reliable alternative to coal. 

Coal consumption is responsible for about 40% of global GHG emissions, and supply chain and geopolitical challenges have caused coal demand to grow by approximately 1.5% in the first half of 2023. China and India have had the most significant increase in coal use, which will account for 70% of the world's total consumption this year.  

Meanwhile, the US is producing far less coal and is substantially reducing its emissions. Since 2005, the US has experienced a remarkable 17% decline in GHG emissions by switching from coal to natural gas. 

The US must move quickly to deploy natural gas to our allies to reduce coal dependency and lower global emissions. According to Naomi L. Boness, Managing Director of the Stanford Natural Gas and Hydrogen Initiatives, natural gas is critical "both to meeting energy security needs around the world [and replacing] the increased use of coal in places like India and China." 

The good news is the US natural gas industry is already taking critical steps to produce cleaner and more reliable energy. 

This includes methane abatement, which Paul Bledsoe of the Progressive Policy Institute says is essential in "limiting near-term temperature increases that are causing devastating climate change impacts around the world." 

US LNG is also far cleaner and less methane-intensive than notoriously leaky natural gas from countries like Russia.  

We need to harness the capabilities of natural gas 

While the US has a plentiful supply of natural gas, more infrastructure is needed to ensure our ability to meet demand overseas. The rise of coal production worldwide shows what happens when the US cannot export enough clean and reliable energy. 

Global energy security and climate change are on the line, so at COP28, US policymakers must advocate for the export of US natural gas to replace coal and finally prioritize permitting reform at home so we can unleash LNG. 

"You actually need adults in the room," says Alex Herrgott, President & CEO of the Permitting Institute. "COP28 needs to be about the practicality of how we harness the technology and capabilities of natural gas to solve the real problems of today." 

New Reports Show US Natural Gas Will Be Critical to the Success of Renewable Energy

According to two new reports, natural gas will be critical in transitioning to a clean energy future.  

Research by consulting firm McKinsey & Company shows that natural gas has been – and will continue to be – vital to decarbonizing the US power supply while supporting renewables.  

Meanwhile, think tank Ember provides evidence that countries like China are overwhelmingly turning to highly polluting coal because of recent shortfalls in renewable energy production, particularly with the decreasing reliability of hydropower.  

Fortunately, the US has the resources and the know-how to decarbonize quickly. Since 1990, the US has decreased its CO2 emissions by 8% and can lead the way in helping the rest of the world achieve its climate goals. 

By increasing the export of US natural gas abroad via LNG, we can expand a proven decarbonization solution that will smooth the ups and downs of energy reliability as we transition to a renewable future.  

… natural gas is more reliable than renewables and helps to phase out the production of environmentally hazardous coal.

The benefits of clean natural gas vs coal 

Some environmentalists argue that renewables alone are the only path towards cleaner energy. While the rapid expansion of renewables is a noteworthy success story, renewables have clear limitations, including battery storage and transmission infrastructure problems.  

According to the McKinsey report, these challenges are causing renewables to produce only an "intermittent supply" of energy that cannot reliably match growing power demands.  

To generate the same amount of electricity as natural gas, solar fields require 10 to 20 times more land, while onshore wind needs up to 200 times more. Overall, significantly more significant investments will have to be made in the power grid to support the rollout of renewables. 

At the same time, natural gas is more nimble and can help phase out the production of environmentally hazardous coal. 

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the use of natural gas in the electric power sector increased by more than 100% between 2005 and 2022, while coal declined by about 55%. This shift from coal to natural gas has contributed to an 18% reduction in energy-related CO2 emissions in the US since 2005. 

This shift also reduced an estimated 532 million metric tons of CO2 over that same period, the most significant decarbonization lever to date, mitigating 10% of 2021 US GHG emissions. By comparison, renewable generation led to 248 million metric tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) – less than half of what coal-to-gas switching produced.  

With China being the world’s largest power producer, accounting for 31% of global generation, the environmental consequences of this rise in coal production will be devastating without a significant course correction.

Natural gas will power the transition to clean energy 

The global decline in hydropower demonstrates precisely why natural gas must be a part of the solution for cleaner energy.  

Research published by Ember found hydro generation, the largest electricity source among all renewables, fell by a historic 8.5% margin in the first half of 2023 due to adverse conditions. This decline was especially notable in China, which accounted for approximately 75% of the global decrease in hydropower.  

China began significantly expanding coal production to make up for the energy deficit. According to the Ember report, China's increase in coal generation between January and June 2023 exceeded 203 terawatt-hours (TWh) compared to that same period in 2022. Natural gas generation increased by just 10 TWh, while hydropower declined by 129 TWh.  

With China being the world's largest power producer, accounting for 31% of global generation, the environmental consequences of this rise in coal production will be devastating without a significant course correction. China emits the most energy-related CO2 emissions globally and could remain in that position through 2050 as it doubles down on coal power generation.  

Natural gas should fill the deficit left by coal 

Fortunately, natural gas provides the ideal solution – a cleaner and more reliable energy source that can make up for the deficit caused by the decline in global hydropower.  

According to the EIA, natural gas emits almost 50% less CO2 than coal while producing equal energy. The recent progress in emissions reduction in the US through coal-to-gas switching shows that this is a proven solution that can succeed in other regions, too.  

And the US's plentiful natural gas supply means we can lead this movement – securing cleaner, more reliable, and affordable energy for all.  

One Year In: Policies Make Progress Toward Lower-Carbon Emissions, But The Job Is Not Done

The Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE) will celebrate its first anniversary in mid-October. 

Since its founding last year, the coalition has advocated for common-sense policies that would enable the development of infrastructure needed to increase the production and export of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) to replace foreign coal and lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). We represent a range of responsible energy companies, leading climate advocates, and labor groups fighting for better energy policy. PAGE’s membership has grown to represent the entire natural gas value chain, with members aligned on decarbonized natural gas from extraction to combustion. 

PAGE is committed to slowing climate change, reducing energy prices, and providing energy security for U.S. allies abroad. Our anniversary represents a significant milestone as we celebrate wins this year and look ahead to the work that still needs to be done as we strive for a cleaner energy future.  

As PAGE enters year two of its partnership, we still need significant reform of the permitting process.

Progress on Permitting Reform 

We’ve seen the decarbonization potential of natural gas here at home. The US has experienced a remarkable 17% decline in GHGs for nearly two decades by switching from coal to natural gas. However, reliance on coal is increasing globally, and the US must move quickly to deploy natural gas to reduce coal dependency abroad and dramatically lower global emissions.

We were pleased earlier this year when a bipartisan group of lawmakers and the White House came together to insert permitting reform provisions into the landmark compromise to lift the nation's debt ceiling, known as the Fiscal Responsibility Act. PAGE fought to ensure these provisions were in the final bill and passed Congress. The legislation represents a long-overdue focus on reforming our nation's broken permitting processes. 

However, while significant, these reforms fell short of the comprehensive overhaul of permitting that we need to unleash a low-carbon energy revolution. As PAGE enters year two of its partnership, we still need significant reform of the permitting process. We will press lawmakers to revisit and reimagine the possibilities they can unlock with true reform. 

Decisive Action is Needed 

Congress must address detrimental bottlenecks in the current permitting system to deliver an efficient and predictable review process. The emissions reductions we need at home and abroad will only occur through developing new energy infrastructure and deploying related technologies and innovations. 

To that end, the Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE) urges Congress to incorporate the following framework in any permitting reform legislation:

  1. Avoid unnecessary litigation delays. Projects are often delayed or even canceled due to prolonged litigation brought late in the permitting process. Project developers and energy consumers deserve clarity and durability in federally reviewed permitting decisions to promote economic development while protecting public interests.
  1. Prevent politically motivated permitting delays. Streamline laws to inhibit states’ ability to unreasonably delay or stop electric transmission, port and waterway, and natural gas transmission projects for political or parochial reasons. 
  1. Parity among energy projects. To meaningfully address climate change and energy supply constraints domestically and worldwide, permitting reform must ensure parity and review consistency among all energy projects. The U.S. must develop new energy systems and infrastructure to address our challenges. An improved permitting process agnostic of energy type is needed to do that.

Unleash the Power of US LNG

PAGE remains committed to unlocking natural gas's full potential, which can lead the world toward a cleaner and more secure future. But we need leaders in Washington to work with us to pass legislation and set policies that can take production and exports to the next level. 

Our allies need reliable, low-methane natural gas – and the U.S. can provide the answer through a more efficient permitting process. By working in a bipartisan manner on permitting reform, we can restore global energy security and help the world get back on track toward achieving our collective emissions reduction goals.

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