Europe can afford only 9 more years of
fossil fuels for energy, climate science shows
Europe needs to urgently quit gas if it is to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions to internationally agreed levels, new science shows.
A new study, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe from the Tyndall
Centre for Climate Change Research and the Teesside University, shows
that EU countries can afford just nine more years of burning gas and other
fossil fuels at the current rate before they will have exhausted their share of
the earth's remaining carbon budget for maximum temperature rises of 2°C.
Even with a managed phase-out, fossil fuels including
natural gas, can have no substantial role beyond 2035 in an EU energy system
compatible with 2°C.
The findings are a stark reminder of the urgency with
which Europe, as a region historically responsible for climate change, needs to
shift to an energy system free from fossil fuels. Under the terms of the
Paris climate agreement, the EU has committed to limit
global warming to 'well below 2°C' and to 'pursue efforts to limit the
temperature increase to 1.5°C'. For 1.5°C, gas and other fossil fuels would
need to be phased-out even faster.
Because of the high levels of both CO2 and methane
emissions throughout the gas lifecycle, the authors conclude that, "there
is categorically no role for bringing additional fossil fuel reserves, including
gas, into production", and that, ''an urgent programme to phase out
existing natural gas and other fossil fuel use across the EU is an imperative''.
This warning comes as the EU is poised to publish a list of at least 90 new
major gas projects it is considering for public funding. In
the last three years, the EU has granted more than €1 billion in public
finance to gas projects.
Jagoda Munic, director of Friends of the
Earth Europe, said: "Europe's infatuation with gas is
totally incompatible with serious action on climate change. The oil and gas
industry is going all out to paint gas as green and keep us hooked on fossil
fuels, but the truth is there is absolutely no room for gas in the transition
we need to a clean energy future. Europe needs to urgently get off all fossil
fuels, realise the full potential of energy savings, and go for a 100%
renewable system in the hands of people."
Professor Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Centre
for Climate Change Research and the Teesside University said:
"If the EU is to transform its energy system to align with the Paris
temperature and equity commitments, it cannot continue with business as usual
and must instead initiate a rapid phase out of all fossil fuels including
natural gas. This needs to begin now and be complete within the coming two
Doctor John Broderick, Tyndall Centre for
Climate Change Research and University of Manchester said: "Extracting
and burning natural gas produces substantial quantities of methane and carbon
dioxide which warm the climate in different ways. We need to rapidly reduce
emissions of both of these gases to prevent dangerous climate change, not one
or the other."
For the next two weeks, negotiators from around the
world are meeting in Bonn, Germany for the United Nations climate talks. Talks
will focus on agreeing the 'rule book' for implementation of the Paris
* Friends of the Earth International spokespeople are
available throughout the COP23 climate talks in Bonn. For more information or
an interview please contact: Francesca Gater, communications coordinator,
Friends of the Earth Europe, francesca.gater[at]foeeurope.org, +32 (0) 485 93
With its Fossil Free Europe vision, Friends of the
Earth Europe is working to create the much-needed, fair and urgent transition
to a fossil fuel free Europe by 2030. This means dismantling the fossil fuel
system and creating the just, clean energy future that people want and need.