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Global leaders all step up to help reduce dependence on Russian gas

The United States and the European Union have launched a joint Task Force to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

US President Joe Biden and Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen said to be united in their condemnation of Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.

Following the REPowerEU plan, the bloc has confirmed its objective to reach independence from Russian gas well before the end of the decade. The new Task Force will be chaired by a representative from the White House and a representative of the President of the European Commission and it will organise its efforts around two primary goals: first, diversifying liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies in alignment with climate objectives; second, reducing demand for natural gas.

Regarding the first pillar, the United States will work with international partners and strive to ensure additional LNG volumes for the EU market of at least 15 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2022, with expected increases going forward. At the same time, both parties will undertake efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of all new LNG infrastructure and associated pipelines, including using clean energy to power onsite operations, reducing methane leakage and building clean and renewable hydrogen-ready infrastructure.

On the other hand, the European Commission will prepare an upgraded regulatory framework for the energy security of supply and storage, as well as work with EU Member States to accelerate regulatory procedures to review and determine approvals for LNG import infrastructure.

In order to reduce the demand for natural gas, the United States and the European Commission are encouraging stakeholders, including the private sector to accelerate market deployment of clean energy measures. Immediate reductions in gas demand can be achieved through energy efficiency solutions such as ramping up demand response devices, including smart thermostats and the deployment of heat pumps.

Yesterday, also the Leaders of the G7 met in Brussels at the invitation of the German G7 Presidency and they all confirmed their willingness to ensure secure alternative and sustainable supplies.

“We call on oil and gas producing countries to act in a responsible manner and to increase deliveries to international markets, noting that OPEC has a key role to play,” read the joint statement. “We will work with them and all partners to ensure stable and sustainable global energy supplies. This crisis reinforces our determination to meet the goals of the Paris agreement and of the Glasgow Climate Pact and limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C, by accelerating the reduction of our reliance on fossil fuels and our transition to clean energy.”

To not lose sight of the energy transition was a topic also mentioned by the Ministers from theInternational Energy Agency’s (IEA) 31 Member Countries. In a joint statement, they said that “in addition to ensuring global energy security, the IEA has a new guiding principle: supporting countries in the global effort to attain net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector by mid-century.”

“The energy world is changing fast and needs to change faster still,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “The IEA is ready to support the twin goals of energy security and the clean energy transition.”

Photo: Dati Bendo/European Union 2022

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