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Addressing methane emissions in the context of energy system integration is a joint webinar organised by the Florence School of Regulation and the Environmental Defense Fund

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Background

During her first State of the Union speech, President of the European Commission – Ursula von der Leyen – proposed to raise the EU 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target to 55% as part of a broader European Green Deal framework aimed at reaching climate neutrality by mid-century. Reaching the 55% target requires not only substantial cuts of CO2 emissions, but also a 35-37% reduction of methane emissions by 2030 compared to 2005.

The EU Commission adopted the EU Strategy to reduce methane emissions on 14 October 2020. The strategy addresses all major sources of methane emissions in the EU – agriculture, waste, and energy, including the oil and gas sector. The discussions in the strategy will evolve in parallel to the reform of the EU Gas Market Design in line with two policy documents laying down the foundations of the future EU energy system – ‘An EU Strategy for Energy System Integration’ and ‘A hydrogen strategy for a climate-neutral Europe’ published by the EU Commissions earlier this year.

With the 2050 carbon neutrality objective in mind, those documents shed more light on how the EU energy systems will change in the next few years with the aim, among others, to reduce the gap between how the EU electricity and gas systems look like now, and how they should be organized in 2050.

According to the ‘EU Strategy for Energy System Integration’, “investments in energy infrastructure typically have an economic life of  20  to  60  years.  The steps taken in the next five-to-ten years will be crucial for building an energy system that drives  Europe towards climate neutrality in 2050”.

It is thus worth reflecting on how the next investments in the energy sector could embrace the need to address and reduce methane emissions

System integration implies a full re-thinking of the role of gas in the EU, which currently accounts for 25% of the EU energy mix. In the path towards 2050, we can expect decreasing natural gas demand[1] and the increasing supply of low-carbon and renewable gases, such as biogas, biomethane, and hydrogen.

The production of biogas and biomethane in particular could help to decrease methane emissions from agriculture and waste, on condition that methane emissions from the production and transport of low-carbon gases are minimized.

The EU Hydrogen Strategy includes the use of fossil-based hydrogen combined with carbon capture with a caveat that “the Commission will address upstream methane emissions occurring during the production and transport of natural gas and propose mitigating measures as part of the upcoming EU Strategy on Methane”.

Taking into account the increasing demand for natural gas in some EU Member States, such as Poland, and the gradual substitution of natural gas with low-carbon alternatives, the issue of the prevention and abatement of methane emissions is likely to persist.

What climate value for gas?

The event will address the following questions:

  • How could the reduction of methane emissions contribute to the achievement of the European Green Deal and Paris Agreement objectives?
  • How to provide clear information to the consumers on the methane-intensity of gas they consume, including from imports?
  • Should methane emissions performance standards be used to give clear signals to investors both through the sustainable finance taxonomy and through mandatory disclosure under the Non-Financial Reporting Directive?
  • How to ensure that the supply of low-carbon and renewable gases do not lead to the increase in the domestic EU methane emissions?
  • Whether and how to incorporate the methane emission abatement actions into the revision of the TEN-E Regulation?
  • How to create the right incentives for the EU network companies to reduce methane emissions in the distribution segment?

The webinar will be moderated by prof. Andris Piebalgs, Florence School of Regulation and former EU Commissioner for Energy. A Q&A session with the audience will follow.

 

Speakers:

Stefano Grassi | European Commission

Jutta Paulus | European Parliament (Greens/European Free Alliance)

Nicolás González Casares | European Parliament (Socialists & Democrats)

Mark Radka | UN Environment Programme

Poppy Kalesi | Environmental Defense Fund

Francisco de la Flor | Enagás / Gas Infrastructure Europe

Antoine Rostand | Kayrros

 

 

 

 

[1] Apart from the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region, where natural gas is expected to substitute coal in electricity production and district heating.

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