Europe needs a new agenda on natural gas. Over the last 15 years, the EU has introduced successive waves of gas-focused regulation, aimed at strengthening gas-on-gas competition and increasing gas security.
However, the energy sector is transforming rapidly. The rise of digitalisation, electrification, sector integration and active demand management means that gas can no longer be treated in isolation.
Meanwhile, all sectors need to reach net zero carbon emissions over the next three decades in order to meet Paris Agreement climate goals. This means the climate impacts of natural gas can no longer be ignored.
The incoming European Commission has the opportunity to develop a new approach to gas that is both pro-consumer and pro-climate. The steps to achieve this include:
- Set clear objectives for decarbonisation – including gas
- Strengthen competition between gas and carbon-free alternatives
- Remove fossil fuel subsidies and distortions
- Manage the social dimension of decarbonisation
- Update Europe’s energy infrastructure priorities
- Make gas network regulation fit for the transition
- Develop renewable hydrogen for hard-to-electrify processes
- Address methane emissions, both downstream and upstream
- Reorient energy diplomacy to reflect the changing geopolitics.