The European Union (EU) has played a crucial role in reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Between 1990 and 2019, the EU reduced its emissions by 24%, including a 3.7% decline from 2018 to 2019 alone. However, the recent rise in the use of coal, spurred by Russia cutting off gas supplies, has made the EU’s future climate targets virtually impossible to achieve in the near term.
To help the EU get back on track, the Partnership to Address Global Emissions (PAGE) recently met with European leaders to discuss solutions to fast-track the replacement of coal with lower-emitting US natural gas and help provide energy security to the continent.
PAGE members have also met with US policymakers to spur the support needed to bring this climate and energy solution to our allies. The climate crisis extends beyond US borders, and it’s our responsibility to take the actions necessary to address emissions at home and abroad.
PAGE’s Role in Europe
PAGE is dedicated to lowering global emissions by exporting the climate solution that led the US to dramatically reduce CO2 by replacing foreign coal with affordable, reliable, and cleaner energy. We represent every part of the LNG value chain, producing and moving over 70% of US natural gas. And, with more pipeline capacity, we have access to immense additional gas resources that could help the US safely deliver up to 100 BCM annually to Europe, while keeping prices low at home.
Through PAGE’s work to educate EU policymakers, the coalition has learned that there is high demand for the cleanest possible LNG in Europe to create energy security and reliability. The US’s supply of LNG is far less methane intensive than leaky and environmentally hazardous Russian gas, and European officials are encouraged by the measures PAGE members have taken toward methane abatement and carbon capture innovation. These actions will only enhance natural gas’ role as a long-term climate solution.
But while there is a clear desire by EU officials to replace dirty Russian gas, the main challenge has been mobilizing the necessary political will in the US to enable further natural gas exports. Therefore, it is essential that US policymakers come to terms with Europe’s predicament and the role US LNG can play in helping our allies survive a devastating energy crisis.
EU Climate Commitments and Fit for 55
The EU’s climate strategy is based on the European Climate Law, which aims to reduce the EU’s GHG emissions by at least 55% by 2030 to help the continent achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The EU enacted an ambitious piece of legislation known as Fit for 55 to reach this climate goal. It is a series of revised and updated laws that better direct how European countries can reduce their emissions in line with the 2030 target.
But the EU’s path towards achieving the Fit for 55 thresholds has been compromised by a rise in coal use due to Russia cutting off the continent’s main gas supply. Europe’s dependence on coal has only worsened as prices across other gas markets surged due to low supply.
To help revive Europe’s energy security, the US exported an average of 10.6 billion cubic feet per day of cleaner, reliable, and more affordable LNG. These exports were crucial last winter when energy demand was exceptionally high. But with another 40 BCM of gas needed to supply Europe this coming winter alone, we will need to significantly increase our exports to help the EU get back on track toward its ambitious climate commitments.
The Next Step is for Washington to Take Action
We need leaders in Washington to work with their European counterparts to assist in their efforts to reliably decarbonize global energy. Under the status quo, our allies will be stranded in the energy transition, creating conditions for the continued use of coal to meet human energy and industrial needs. The US can lead the world in exporting climate and energy solutions by adopting bipartisan policies, like permitting reform, to help unleash our vast resources of low-methane intensive natural gas.