The climate hawks’ list of disappointments is growing longer as the global energy crisis and Europe’s imperative to cut ties with Russia send some of the world’s greenest governments into the embrace of fossil fuels.
The war in Ukraine has required President Joe Biden and other Western leaders who support aggressive green measures to make compromises to avoid energy shortages this winter and to ensure the overall security of their energy supplies, even while they maintain that it is necessary to replace fossil energy with renewables.
That means, at least for now, governments are seeking out more of the fossil fuels they would prefer to phase out quickly, leading to a major letdown for environmental interests.
Conclusions from the recent summit of the Group of Seven’s (G-7) heads of state show that green policy preferences and, pointedly, the preferences of Biden and his fellow European leaders, are being outmatched by the demands of the global energy crisis.
The leaders’ newest Tuesday communique, which lays out how the members resolve to tackle major geopolitical problems, endorsed the public financing of natural gas projects in limited circumstances.
The communique emphasized the “exceptional” circumstances of the energy crisis and acknowledged “that investment in [the natural gas sector] is necessary in response to the current crisis.”
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said separately that “large investments in gas infrastructure in developing countries and elsewhere” would be needed.
G-7 nations had a month earlier committed to ending direct public support for unabated fossil fuel projects internationally, meaning those unaccompanied by emissions-capturing technologies, by the end of this year.
At the COP26 climate change conference in November, all of the leading industrial nations except Japan made a similar commitment.
The EU is scrambling to find ways to reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas, which over the last few years has provided more than a third of the bloc’s total gas imports, in an effort to cease funneling money to Russia and become less vulnerable to energy “blackmail.”
That effort includes seeking out new import partners, such as the United States and Qatar, that can provide Europe with more liquefied natural gas. But it also involves supporting new gas projects in the developing world, especially in Africa.
The endorsement of gas sparked a backlash from green-aligned groups, which accused the G-7 of walking back a commitment it made just a month before and transgressing the Paris Agreement. …
The Biden administration and the G-7, as well as Europe more broadly, are pursuing all of those green strategies more aggressively in response to the energy crisis, but not to the exclusion of natural gas.
The G-7’s communique was one of the most explicit endorsements favoring new gas infrastructure since the war started, but it wasn’t the first action.
The Biden administration and the European Commission set up a joint task force in March with the mission of securing more LNG supplies for Europe.
Biden committed to helping supply the European Union with several hundred billion cubic meters of U.S.-produced LNG through 2030, and the task force acknowledged that new infrastructure would be built to facilitate that.
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