Tuesday

26th Jan 2021

Opinion

If EU is serious, it should use more US liquified gas, not less

  • A tanker carrying liquified natural gas. 'The increased use of natural gas made America a global leader in energy emissions reductions' (Photo: kees torn)

Last month, the French energy company Engie walked away from a deal to import American liquefied natural gas (LNG), claiming that the US gas is "too dirty."

This claim could not be further from the truth.

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  • US secretary of state for energy Dan Brouillette. 'It is the stated energy policy of the Russian Federation to use the country's natural gas resources and their vast network of pipelines to wield political influence across Eastern Europe' (Photo: US department of energy)

First and foremost, this is the shale gas that in 2019 helped the US achieve the largest absolute decline of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions of any country in the world, surpassing all signatories of the Paris Climate Accord.

What's more, Engie is Russian Gazprom's main partner in France and is under an agreement to import from them until 2031, despite the International Energy Agency's findings in 2019 that Russia's aggregate methane emissions – encompassing extraction to transport - are nine-percent greater than United States' methane emissions.

What does this say about Engie's motives – and more broadly the French government's, which has more than a 20 percent ownership stake in the company – since its recent decision ignores the data on American emissions reductions and will hurt French energy security in the long run?

If France, and Europe more broadly, are serious about their environmental goals, including deploying a scalable and resilient hydrogen sector, they should recognise the past and present fruits of their relationships with US LNG providers, instead of walking away.

In fact, Europe can look to the United States as an example in this regard.

The increased use of natural gas made America a global leader in energy emissions reductions, and the Energy Information Administration's projections show that this year US emissions will decline to below 1992 levels.

Yet, you are not likely to hear this story, because these facts do not fit into the environmental activist or media narrative about American clean energy and will come as a shock to some of the most enthusiastic boosters of the Paris agreement, who seem determined to undermine the significant achievements of the US in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

They operate under the impression that all you need to do to achieve significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions is attend fancy confabs, draw-up treaties, and hold self-congratulatory press conferences to focus on process instead of outcomes.

How is it that we achieved these historic levels even as we boosted energy production and enjoyed the strongest economy in decades?

The US continues to invest in groundbreaking energy technologies through innovative policies, including robust support for R&D projects.

We continue to adhere to a philosophy that strengthens free markets, funds scientific research, and honours the choices of producers and consumers alike.

We proved that it is possible to produce energy in a way that improves our environment and keeps our economy growing at the same time.

This focus on technological innovation made American natural gas – from production to transport – cleaner than the alternatives, particularly Russian natural gas.

Moreover, the US is a recognised global leader in methane emissions quantification and mitigation, and there is widespread confidence in how the US collects and analyses its data.

To demonstrate these facts, the US Department of Energy has increased US-EU cooperation on methane emissions to dispel fake news.

Other natural gas-producing countries do not have the same data quality and are unable to support claims about their own methane emissions.

US LNG comes from an unrivaled transparent monitoring and reporting protocol for industry greenhouse gas emissions.

And our LNG exports are subject to stringent environmental analysis including multi-year reviews of the environmental impacts at the site of LNG export facilities before they can even be constructed. No other country on earth can reasonably claim such scrutiny.

Compare with the Russians

Finally, the United States is a stable trading partner and importing our natural gas extends energy security to partner nations.

It is the stated energy policy of the Russian Federation to use the country's natural gas resources and their vast network of pipelines to wield political influence across Eastern Europe.

Not convinced? Ask Georgia and Ukraine.

You could also ask the Czechs, Poles, and Lithuanians. Each of these countries experienced energy disputes and price increases, which happens when a country is overly reliant on Russia for energy.

In contrast, the US stands as the counterweight to Russia's geopolitical leverage against import-reliant nations. We support open markets where countries can engage in free and fair energy trade to provide energy, affordability, reliability, and security to their citizens, and our natural gas is cleaner than our competitors like Russia

If European leaders want to seriously pursue their own clean energy and environmental goals, they should commit to importing the cleanest LNG backed by world-leading innovation and technology.

They should commit to an energy source that comes with no strings attached and no threat of disruption.

For that there is only one option: American LNG.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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