“Natural Gas’ Changing Discourse in European Decarbonisation”, John Szabo (IWE CERS, Hungary)

Natural gas plays a key role in the European Union’s energy system, which is partially predicated on its favourable environmental characteristics. These qualities have allowed key stakeholders to facilitate a positive discursive and ideological inscription of the fuel to ensure their continued ability to capitalise on it. European Commission-led climate action poses a significant challenge to the status quo, which industry incumbents first sought to address by promulgating the message that natural gas is the transition or bridge fuel to a renewable society. As it became clear that this would not be sufficient to maintain the fuel’s role in EUʼs future energy mix, producers and infrastructure owners devised energy futures in which they would complement and gradually substitute natural gas with sustainable (biomethane) and decarbonised (hydrogen) forms of gas. Discourse on the role low carbon gases can play in EU’s decarbonisation proliferated, partly due to the limitations of electrification and renewables, but also reflecting the deep entrenchment of ideas society pairs with the (fossil) fuels it relies on.

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