The European Commission endorsed natural gas as a transition fuel under its new sustainable financial taxonomy, stressing that the “imperfect solution” was simply to make way for greater transparency in the region’s energy finance sector and not to influence energy policy. The decision to back the fossil fuel was supported by Eastern European nations, Central European countries and Germany, but may be dragged to the courts by the smaller economies of Luxembourg, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. It was also criticised by Greenpeace EU, which called it the “biggest greenwashing exercise” of all time, and something that might lead to greater emissions in the face of an urgent need to slash the bloc’s use of fossil fuels.
Most importantly, the Commission’s decision may be taken up by other large economies, such as India, the US, South Africa and the entire ASEAN region, even though natural gas and clean coal do not find a mention in China’s green taxonomy labels.
UK to permanently close its two fracking sites
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) of the UK ordered for the country’s only two fracking sites to be permanently plugged with concrete after testing at the controversial sites was abandoned amongst massive protests in 2020. The two shale gas wells in Lancashire county experienced earth tremors (earthquakes) that sparked strong local opposition to any further exploration and to fracking in general. However, the head of the firm responsible for the sites, Cuadrilla, said that the permanent closure of the sites was “ridiculous” amongst the record high prices of natural gas, and that the fuel could have met the UK’s energy needs “for decades to come”.
Carbon Tracker: Poland to miss net-zero target if it builds gas-fired plants
A new report by Carbon Tracker found that Poland, which was planning to build 3.7GW of new gas-fired plants, would certainly make it impossible for itself to meet its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. At an expense of $4.4 billion (€3.8bn) and a commencement date of somewhere between 2023-2027, the plants’ tariffs would be higher than new offshore or offshore wind, as well as new solar capacity. The latter’s tariffs, in particular, when combined with energy storage, would be cheaper than natural gas from 2024 onward. However, Polish policymakers were reportedly of the opinion that any steps to meet the EU’s 2050 climate targets would have to be “safe for society and beneficial for the economy” — despite the fact that natural gas prices were at an all-time high. The fuel is also increasingly used as a political tool by Russia against NATO countries.
IMF deletes reference to Japan’s support for coal in mission document
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) curiously omitted any criticism of Japan’s continued support to coal projects (within its borders and around Asia) in the draft version of its latest mission document on the country. Instead, it said that the country would find it difficult to meet its emissions reduction targets if it did not end its reliance on the fuel. However, the omission comes despite the IMF having resolved to increase its coverage of climate-relevant energy finance in 2021, and bizarrely, the IMF has commented that neither its board members nor its management had any role to play in the surveillance reports that are prepared on a country.