Global energy crisis looms over UN climate summit – while some countries race for renewables, others plan more natural gas production, but it comes with risks


De aardgasprijzen in Europa zijn in 2022 dramatisch gestegen. <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" doel="_blanco" data-ylk="slk:Privetik/iStock/Getty Images Plus" klasse="koppeling ">Privetik/iStock/Getty Images Plus</a>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ4MQ–/–/″ “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ4MQ–/”</div>
<p>Russia’s war on Ukraine has cast a shadow over this year’s United Nations climate summit in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, where officials from around the world discuss the costs of climate change and how emissions are still around. from record highs can be reduced.</p>
<p>The war has dramatically disrupted energy markets around the world, leaving many countries vulnerable to price spikes amid shortages of supplies.</p>
<p>Europe, worried about the heat persisting into winter, is outpacing poor countries for natural gas, even paying bounties to divert tankers after Russia cut off most of its usual natural gas supply.  Some countries are restarting coal-fired power stations.  Others are looking for ways to expand fossil fuel production, including new projects in Africa.</p>
<p>These actions are a long way from the countries’ pledges a year ago to curb fossil fuels, and they are likely to further increase greenhouse gas emissions, at least temporarily.</p>
<p>But will the war and economic turmoil stop the world from meeting the long-term goals of the Paris climate agreement?</p>
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De Amerikaanse klimaatgezant John Kerry spreekt met de Duitse bondskanselier Olaf Scholz op de VN-conferentie over klimaatverandering, bekend als COP27, op 7 november 2022 in Egypte.  <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" doel="_blanco" data-ylk="slk:Michael Kappeler/foto alliantie via Getty Images" klasse="koppeling ">Michael Kappeler/photo alliance via Getty Images</a>” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ4MQ–/ /><noscript><img alt=Michael Kappeler/photo alliance via Getty Images” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ4MQ–/″ “caas-img”/>

There are reasons to believe that this is not the case.

The answer depends in part on how rich countries respond to a focus of this year’s climate conference: fulfilling their promises in the Paris Agreement to support low- and middle-income countries build clean energy systems.

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Europe accelerates clean energy plans

An important lesson many countries are drawing from the ongoing energy crisis is that the transition to renewable energy must in any case be accelerated more quickly.

I work with countries to update national climate commitments and have been involved in evaluating the compatibility of global emission reduction scenarios with the Paris Agreement. I see the energy crisis affecting countries’ plans in different ways.

About 80% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil sources. Global trade in coal, oil and natural gas has meant that even countries with their own energy supplies have felt some of the pain of exorbitant prices. In the US, for example, natural gas and electricity prices are higher than normal because they are increasingly tied to international markets, and the US is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

The shortage has led to a struggle to find fossil fuel suppliers in the short term. European countries have offered to help African countries produce more natural gas and have courted authoritarian regimes. The Biden administration is urging companies to extract more oil and gas, has sought to pressure Saudi Arabia to produce more oil and has considered lifting sanctions against Venezuela.

However, Europe also has a growing supply of renewable energy that has helped absorb some of the impact. A quarter of the electricity in the European Union comes from solar and wind, avoiding billions of euros in fossil fuel costs. Globally, investments in the clean energy transition will increase by about 16% by 2022, the International Energy Agency estimates.

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Developing countries face complex challenges

If the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a wake-up call to accelerate the clean energy transition in wealthier countries, the situation in developing countries is much more complex.

Low-income countries have been hit hard by the effects of the war in Russia, not only from high energy costs, but also from declines in grain and cooking oil exports. The more these countries depend on foreign oil and gas imports for their energy supplies, the more they will be exposed to fluctuations in the global market.

Renewable energy can reduce some of that exposure.

The cost of solar and wind energy has fallen dramatically over the past decade and is now the cheapest energy source in most regions. But progress in expanding access to clean electricity has been held back by the war. Borrowing costs can also be a barrier for low-income countries, and those costs will increase as countries raise interest rates to fight inflation.

As part of the Paris Agreement, rich countries had to keep promises to make $100 billion a year available for climate finance, but the amounts actually provided have fallen short.

In order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, the consumption of coal, oil and natural gas must decrease drastically over the next ten years. International cooperation will be needed to help poorer countries expand access to energy and move towards low-emission development pathways.

Fossil Fuels and Stranded Assets Risks in Africa

A number of developing countries have their own fossil fuels, and some in Africa have called for increased production, albeit not without restraint.

Without a strong alternative within the local context for renewable energy sources, and with rich countries seeking fossil fuels, developing countries will exploit fossil resources – just as the richest countries have done for more than a century. Tanzania’s Energy Minister January Makamba told Bloomberg at the UN climate conference that his country expects to sign agreements with Shell and other major oil companies for a $40 billion export project of liquefied natural gas.

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While this intersection of interests may stimulate some developing countries, it may also pose challenges for the future.

Encouraging the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure in Africa – presumably destined for Europe in the short to medium term – could help solve some short-term shortages, but how long will those customers need the fuel for? ? And how much of that income benefits the people in those countries?

The IEA sees natural gas demand level off by 2030 and oil and coal demand falling, even without more ambitious climate policies. Any infrastructure built today for short-term deliveries risks becoming a stranded asset, worthless in a low-emissions world.

Uit de prognoses van het Internationaal Energieagentschap blijkt dat de vraag naar aardgas binnenkort zal stabiliseren.  <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" doel="_blanco" data-ylk="slk: IEA 2022" klasse="koppeling ">IEA 2022</a>, <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" doel="_blanco" data-ylk="slk:CC BY" klasse="koppeling ">CC BY</a>” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTU4OA–/″ /><noscript><img alt=IEA 2022, CC BY” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTU4OA–/ “caas-img”/>
The International Energy Agency forecasts that demand for natural gas will soon stabilize. IEA 2022, CC DOOR

Encouraging developing countries to take on debt risks to invest in the extraction of fossil fuels, which will be of no use to the world, would potentially do these countries a disservice by taking short-term benefits.

The world has made progress on emissions in recent years, and the worst warming projections from a decade ago now seem highly unlikely. But every tenth of a degree has an impact, and the current “business-as-usual” path is still leading the planet towards warming levels with climate change costs that are difficult to predict, especially for the most vulnerable countries. The outcomes of the climate conference will provide an indication of whether the global community is prepared to accelerate the transition.

This article was republished from The Conversation, an independent, not-for-profit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Robert Brecha, University of Dayton. The Conversation has a variety of fascinating free newsletters.

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Robert Brecha has received funding from the European Union to research access to energy in developing countries. He was also affiliated with the non-profit think tank Climate Analytics and collaborated with developing countries on NDC reviews funded by the German government. All opinions expressed here are his own.