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International Energy Agency boosts EU case for squeezing fossil fuels

Published: (Updated: ) in European News by .

The International Energy Agency’s report undercuts support for investments in oil and gas extraction and pipelines.

A landmark energy report is giving Brussels new ammunition in its war on fossil fuels.

On Tuesday, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s most influential energy observatory, said new investments in fossil production were incompatible with the global goal to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. That would mean countries have to put an end to new licenses for oil and gas fields, coal mines and mine extensions if they want to hit the target agreed under the Paris climate accord.

The findings also lend “further support” to European Commission efforts to discontinue EU funding for oil and gas projects, the bloc’s energy chief Kadri Simson said.

“The role of fossil fuels has to decrease,” Simson said in response to the report. The Commission has already proposed excluding oil and natural gas from its Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) regulation that promotes energy infrastructure projects, which means “cross-border fossil fuel infrastructure would no longer be able to receive EU funding,” she said.

“The ball is now in the court” of the European Parliament and national governments, according to a Commission official. “We are hoping that the Council and the Parliament will maintain that ambition.” 

The IEA report highlights that the “strategy of the EU still shows considerable holes,” said Jutta Paulus, a prominent Green MEP. The TEN-E regulation “should put an end to fossil fuels for good,” she said.

The Commission approved a €100 million Greek state bailout for gas exploration in the Aegean as recently as March. Paulus said that type of project “must be immediately stopped.” She called on the Commission to put forward “science-based sustainability criteria” that need to be met before energy projects receive EU funding.

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Few EU countries have committed to ending new oil and gas exploration. Denmark put a ban in place in December; Spain followed suit in its new climate law, passed last week.

In the EU neighborhood, Norway has declined to commit to stop issuing new oil permits. The U.K.’s recent North Sea transition deal kept the door open to new oil and gas licenses only if “they are aligned with the government’s broad climate change ambitions,” an energy department spokesperson said. All applications would fail such a compatibility test if the government follows the IEA’s recommendations.

The IEA’s findings come as the EU and member countries France, Germany and Italy negotiate a deal among the G7 group of rich democracies to phase out coal power by 2030, cease international finance for fossil fuels and end state fossil fuel subsidies, according to a recent draft of a G7 statement seen by POLITICO.

The path to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees is “narrow but still achievable,” said IEA chief Fatih Birol. “Moving the world onto that pathway requires strong and credible policy actions from governments, underpinned by much greater international cooperation.”

Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/international-energy-agency-eu-case-fossil-fuels/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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