EU legislation will restore natural gas to its bridge-fuel status. This is an admission that it won’t be that easy for the EU to wean itself off fossil fuels completely.
Last week saw some much-needed good news for natural gas. The European Union signaled that it would include natural gas in its energy plans for the future, emissions and all. The not-so-good news is that speaking of emissions, the EU might oblige suppliers to minimize these as much as is possible.
In the early days of the rush to cut emissions, natural gas was hailed as what many called a bridge fuel, the bridge being between fossil fuels and renewable energy. Then, as the rush accelerated, the bridge-fuel status of natural gas began to be questioned, increasingly loudly.
While a lower emitter than coal or oil, gas was still an emitter, and many of the proponents of a net zero energy world became increasingly radical with the help of statistics that showed, for example, that U.S. emissions did not decline with the replacement of coal power plants with gas-fired plants because the output of these gas-fired plants—and their numbers—increased.
Gradually, gas became the third focal point of emissions-cutting efforts, almost on par with coal and oil. This is why the European Union’s decision to include natural gas in its brand new EU Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act. The weird-sounding document basically spells out what is green and what isn’t in a list for businesses and investors to peruse with a view to helping the EU along with its plans to become a net-zero emitter by 2050.
The piece of legislation, according to the EU, “introduces clear performance criteria for determining which economic activities make a substantial contribution to the Green Deal objectives. These criteria create a common language for businesses and investors, allowing them to communicate about green activities with increased credibility and helping them to navigate the transition already under way.”
While gas was not included in the list of green economic activities, the EU said it would be included in a separate document treating—and this is the important part—transitional activities. Put simply, the EU legislation will restore natural gas to its bridge-fuel status.
This is, in essence, an admission that it won’t be that easy for the EU to wean itself off fossil fuels completely. It is also a confirmation of what the vice president of the EU and person in charge of the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said earlier this year about gas and other fossil fuels.