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/.  

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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.

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.  

U.S. must double LNG exports to cut emissions, reduce global coal use

The continued reliance on burning coal to produce energy is undeniably the greatest obstacle to reaching our shared goals for reducing global emissions. With the dependence on coal reaching an all-time high in 2022, rapidly replacing it with cleaner fuel is the front line in the fight against climate change.

The U.S. has provided a model over the past 15 years for reducing emissions by replacing coal with much lower-carbon natural gas. Now, the question is whether that model can be exported to the rest of the world in time to cut emissions and stave off the worst effects of climate change.

While critics of natural gas defer to renewables as the only viable emissions solution, the truth is that the current state of battery storage and transmission infrastructure poses real obstacles to the buildout of renewables. Meanwhile, more power is generated globally with coal than any other fuel source. This persistence of coal, and its resulting emissions, will only continue if we adopt a renewables-or-bust approach.

But we can drastically slash emissions right now if we replace the dirtiest coal-fired power plants worldwide with natural gas. Gas burns far cleaner than coal and is more reliable than renewables, making it the best option to simultaneously achieve energy security, reliability, and emissions reductions. In fact, global power sector emissions would be reduced by 30% if the world’s top 5% worst emitting power plants switched to natural gas. Those emissions savings would increase to nearly 50% if that switch incorporated carbon capture and storage.

Federal policymakers in the U.S. could hold the keys to unleashing the LNG revolution we need. If policies were put in place to allow for increased natural gas production - while working to reduce its carbon footprint further - we could export the U.S.-made solution to lowering greenhouse gas emissions right away.

Global power sector emissions would be reduced by 30% if the world’s top 5% worst emitting power plants switched to natural gas. Those emissions savings would increase to nearly 50% if that switch incorporated carbon capture and storage.

The Environmental Benefits of Phasing Out Coal With LNG

The U.S. has already demonstrated the climate benefits of natural gas, with 65% of all power generation emission reductions over the past 15 years driven by coal-to-gas-switching. By replicating this solution worldwide through expanding U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, we can make the most significant dent in global emissions the world has ever seen.

Paul Bledsoe, a strategic advisor for the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), says, "Coal to LNG switching provides net GHG reductions, usually between 40-50%, meaning the extent of global emissions reductions from coal displacement will be in part determined by how much U.S. LNG reaches overseas coal-using nations."

Exporting American Gas to the World

The U.S. became the world's largest LNG exporter in 2022. Spurred by the war in Ukraine, American gas helped stabilize Europe's economy after Russia cut off the continent's primary energy supply. The environmental benefits of these exports were tremendous – not only did they help limit coal growth in Europe, but they also reduced the use of high-methane-leaking Russian gas.

But exporting American gas to Europe is just one part of the solution, as coal usage is more widespread in other markets. China, which had previously been on a path to phase out coal, accounts for 50% of today's global coal demand and 1/3 of total consumption, while India's coal use has more thandoubled since 2007.

Doubling LNG Exports and Increasing Domestic Production

According to a study published by PPI, the U.S. will need to double its LNG exports by 2028 to coal-dependent countries to encourage coal-to-gas switching. Doing this also requires increasing domestic production by at least 10% to keep prices low.

The solution is on our doorstep – the U.S. has the supply, but political will for new policies, such as comprehensive permitting reform, is needed to accelerate the development of domestic infrastructure required for increased LNG exports. By enacting policies that encourage the production and export of natural gas, the U.S. can become a global leader in energy security and decarbonization.

Historic 17% decline in US greenhouse gas emissions would not have been possible without natural gas

The U.S. has been a global leader in lowering its greenhouse gas emissions for the past two decades. According to the EPA, U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2021 were 17 percent below the 2005 level. While this statistic represents a remarkable national achievement, the factors that drove this historic reduction are poorly understood.

Many people mistakenly believe that the rapid growth of renewable energy sources - a noteworthy success story in its own right - is responsible for the decline in emissions. However, while renewables played an important role, we must recognize that the sheer scale of this decrease would not have been possible without natural gas. 

While critics of natural gas defer to renewables as the only viable emissions solution, the truth is that the current state of battery storage and transmission infrastructure poses real obstacles to the buildout of renewables. Meanwhile, more power is generated globally with coal than any other fuel source. This persistence of coal, and its resulting emissions, will only continue if we adopt a renewables-or-bust approach.

But we can drastically slash emissions right now if we replace the dirtiest coal-fired power plants worldwide with natural gas. Gas burns far cleaner than coal and is more reliable than renewables, making it the best option to simultaneously achieve energy security, reliability, and emissions reductions. In fact, global power sector emissions would be reduced by 30% if the world’s top 5% worst emitting power plants switched to natural gas. Those emissions savings would increase to nearly 50% if that switch incorporated carbon capture and storage.

Source: United States Department of Energy Report to the President - January 2021

Natural Gas Was The Primary Driver to Lowering Emissions

The fact is that natural gas has been the key to lowering overall emissions in the U.S. since 2005. In total, 65% of all U.S. power generation emissions reductions from 2005-2019 were driven by switching from coal to gas. By contrast, renewables only accounted for roughly 30% during this period. 

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said natural gas “can play an important role as part of the clean energy transition” and that “pipeline and transmission capacity is critical to maintaining energy reliability, availability, and security.

Natural gas's reliability, availability, and low-carbon footprint have made it the ideal replacement for much dirtier coal as our underlying baseload fuel source. That is because natural gas is a very efficient energy source, producing the same power as coal while emitting 50% less CO2

Our expanding use of natural gas has advanced our clean energy goals and is helping ensure we can provide a stable and secure energy supply to the American people. This understanding led the U.S. Department of Energy to say in 2021 that "natural gas, which is quickly dispatchable, provides reliable, baseload power, serving as an important partner in continued renewable energy expansion."

Global Emissions Remain Stubbornly High

Unfortunately, the rest of the world is lagging in the energy transition. Due to global supply constraints and geopolitical instability, other large countries are failing to give up coal and reap the emissions reductions of natural gas. As a result, global coal consumption reached an all-time high in 2022.

While we have the model to reduce emissions, we need to adopt policies that allow us to lead the clean energy transition and bring this solution to the rest of the world. Without a plan to shift the world's energy away from coal, our contributions at home will fail to make a dent in a global crisis.

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