COP27: Dash for natural gas on a scale that threatens 1.5°C goal, says report

Cumulative emissions from LNG are estimated to be over 40 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2) higher between 2020 and 2050

By Rohini Krishnamurthy
Published: Thursday 10 November 2022
There is a renewed interest in Africa’s fossil energy reserves given the energy crisis. Photo: UNFCCC_

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) production projects, including those under construction, proposed or approved between 2021 and 2050, could increase emissions by over 1.9 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2) per year in 2030, according to a new report.

This estimate is above emission levels estimated by the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s Net Zero by 2050 scenario, the report released by Climate Action Tracker (CAT) November, 10, 2022, stated.

The report, titled Massive gas expansion risks overtaking positive climate policies, was released at the 27th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

The total global gas use by 2030 must be at least 30 per cent below 2021 levels, according to the 2022 update of the IEA’s Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.

Under current proposals, global LNG consumption could more than double by 2030, reaching 800 million tonnes of LNG per year, the report warned.

Read Energy consumption, related emissions expected to increase through 2050: IEA

The findings also showed that cumulative emissions from LNG are estimated to be over 40 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2) higher between 2020 and 2050.

This could consume 10 per cent of the remaining global carbon budget for 1.5˚C warming by 2050.

The world has a remaining budget of about 420 gigatonnes of CO2 for a two-thirds chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The remaining carbon budget is the remaining CO2 emissions that can still be emitted while keeping the global average temperature increase due to human activities to a specific limit, which is 1.5°C.

The dash for gas is on such a scale that it threatens the 1.5˚C goal, Bill Hare, chief executive of CAT partner organisation Climate Analytics, said at the press briefing at COP27.

He further said the Russia-Ukraine war has caused the energy crisis. This “has taken over the climate crisis. The gas industry has taken advantage of that. There is a massive push for gas everywhere,” he added.

African gas reserves

Europe, Africa, the United States, Australia, Canada and the Middle East are expected to expand exports, according to the report. Europe is expected to see significant increases in imports, while India, southeast Asia, and east Asia have plans to expand import capacity, according to the Global Energy Monitor.

There is a renewed interest in Africa’s fossil energy reserves given the energy crisis. It now has 905 proposed fossil gas plants. Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal and Mozambique are pushing to accelerate fossil gas production.

The African Development Bank said it would be co-financing an LNG plant in Mozambique. Fossil gas projects, it added, are attractive to many African nations facing a debt crisis.

Increasing our reliance on fossil gas cannot solve today’s climate and energy crises anywhere. Instead, it will be counterproductive, CAT said.

“Developed countries, in particular from the European Union, should halt financial support for fossil gas resource development and LNG export infrastructure,” the report said.

Instead, wealthy nations should support de-risking large-scale investment into clean energy technologies to accelerate just transition in Africa, it added.

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