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GECF Advocates Environmental Advantages of Natural Gas at COP25 in Madrid


On December 2-13 the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 took place in the city of Madrid, capital of the Kingdom of Spain. The landmark United Nations platform on environmental issues has been gathering major policy and decisionmakers upon the topic – the Heads of State, Ministers of Environment, intergovernmental and non-governmental organization leadership, providing insights in maintaining successive nationally determined contributions and pursuing environmentally responsible behavior. 

The Intergovernmental and Non-governmental Organizations’ Panel at High-Level Segment of the Conference on December 10 kicked-off with the GECF Statement, delivered by HE Secretary General Dr. Yury Sentyurin on behalf of the Organization’s Member Countries – 19 major natural gas producers. 

Delivering the message, the GECF speaker reaffirmed the crucial importance of challenges posed by climate change, alongside with the shared values and joint efforts undertaken by the international community, and the Forum’s Member Countries in particular, to deal with the environmental issues. 

In the strategic approach development, the GECF Workshop on the Environmental Advantages of Natural Gas was also held on the sidelines of COP25 in order to thoroughly discuss and share views on the role natural gas can play in dealing with climate change concerns and in providing an environmentally friendly and affordable source of energy for growing global population and economy. 

At the beginning of the keynote speech, HE Yury Sentyurin, GECF Secretary General emphasized that the growth of population and economy will drive huge needs of energy that require to be met in sustainable ways. He elaborated on the topic, providing the 2019 Global Gas Outlook estimates: the global population is expected to expand by 2.2 billions reaching 9.8 billions in 2050, and the economic growth will reach around 3.2% over the 2018-2050 period. 

To this end meeting energy demand in sustainable ways means finding the energy solutions that achieve a delicate balance between enhanced environmental actions, without harming the economic and social progress. And natural gas can be a solution that supports the achievement of this delicate balance, meanwhile supporting improved access to modern energy. Nevertheless, despite these advantages, natural gas faces several challenges including the environmental challenges emerging in the recent debates.

GECF authority stressed that the Organization strives to promote the effort aimed to further improve the environmental footprint of natural gas and examined the Member Countries’ experience in capturing further decarbonization potential for natural gas. 

The world needs to evolve towards more sustainable energy systems and solutions. In this context, a constructive debate and international cooperation is instrumental in bringing positive global responses to climate change and sustainable development, he stressed.

Following the event agenda, Mr. Dmitry Sokolov, Head of the GECF Energy Economics and Forecasting Department, introduces to the audience the granular GECF Global Gas Model and produced on its base Global Gas Outlook, which has already gained a recognition as a platform made up of views, analysis and evaluations of various scenarios as to how natural gas and energy scene may develop. 

The results of the GECF’s Global Gas Model based projections stipulate, that the said hydrocarbons will remain the main sources of energy in a wide range of world economy sectors. Generally saying according to the modelling, global energy demand is projected to increase by 30% over the next three decades. Natural gas and oil are expected to continue to play a dominant role in the global energy mix, amounting over 50% of primary energy by 2050.

On this background, oil and gas industries have to meet global environmental challenges and address the request of modern society for low carbon development. Which is why, the upgraded and extended up to 2050, new edition of the Outlook focuses on the transportation sector, natural gas vehicles, new disruptive technologies, and features two brand-new alternative scenarios are considered: the Carbon Off-set Compensation Scenario and the Blue Hydrogen Scenario, both reflecting the importance of addressing the challenges posed by climate change.

Yet another major stride on the way to accomplishment of the UN Sustainable Development Goal #7 “To ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” was reported by Mr. Sid-Ahmed Hamdani, Energy Environment and Policy Analyst in EEEFD, who briefed the audience on the GECF Environmental Actions Framework. 

Recognizing the pivotal importance of environmental risks management, mitigation the negative impact on the environment, advancing disruptive technologies, shifting towards less carbon intensive energy systems and ‘circular economy’ principles, the GECF remains staunchly committed to the environmental obligation to deliver sustainable, secure and safe energy. 

On the basis of the belief in natural gas as the most affordable, reliable, flexible and environmentally friendly fossil fuel, the GECF has launched its environmental actions framework, which frames 13 particular actions aiming at 5 strategic objectives.

Summarizing the main takeaways from the discussion, Secretary General Dr. Sentyurin reemphasized that climate change concerns play a critical role in driving the future energy configurations. At the same time there should be no illusions: hydrocarbon energy sources will still represent a large part of the energy mix to meet growing energy needs, especially in the emerging and developing countries.

In this context natural gas not only enables to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but also has several attributes allowing a balanced progress to support the sustainable development goals. The six criteria energy-sustainability framework figures out these attributes and highlights the potential performance of natural gas when considering simultaneously all these criteria. 

Dr. Sentyurin added, that GECF is developing new Energy Transition Scenario that factors in the combined effect of the implementation of strengthened carbon mitigation policies and technology improvements, especially with the deployment of blue hydrogen, and demonstrates significant emissions abatement potential compared to the reference case. 

The penetration of clean energy vehicles, including NGVs and hydrogen-based vehicles plays also a non-negligible role in reducing emissions of the transport sector. To this end the GECF and its Member Countries are set to organize a NGVs rally through the Qatar – Iran – Azerbaijan – Russia rout in 2020 in order to demonstrate the potential of natural gas vehicles.

In the concluding remarks of his intervention, HE Secretary General pointed out, that governments’ policies are critical in driving the energy transition towards less carbon-intensive economies and supporting technology progress. Fulfilling its obligations, the GECF promotes environmentally responsible business behaviour and remains ambitious to play a key role in this transition towards an environmentally friendly world.

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GECF Advocates Environmental Advantages of Natural Gas at COP25 in Madrid  Madrid
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