“Climate action in the European Commission’s natural gas policy”, John Szabo (IWE CERS, Hungary)

Natural gas has been understood to be the transition fuel allowing inter alia the European Union to substitute more polluting fossil fuels when moving to a renewable energy-based society. This role has been based on it yielding the least emissions upon combustion, which had insulated it from the negative impacts of climate policy. A combination of an extensive infrastructure and legal-technical framework, widely adopted consumer practices, and the transition fuel narrative both built on and furthered the lock-in of the fuel. Natural gas policy essential refrained from incorporating significant climate considerations and the fuel was assumed to have bright future. As the European Commission’s climate action became more stringent, the parallel paths of climate and natural gas policy eventually collided. The promulgaters of the transition fuel narrative, the natural gas industry, was unprepared for such changes. However, it was quick to mobilise and devise strategies to sustain its role in the EU’s energy future—the impacts of which are yet to be seen.

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