The U.S. and EU announced, this morning, a joint Task Force to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Under the agreement, the U.S. will work with international partners and “strive to provide” at least additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied methane gas for European consumption by the end of this year. The EU agreed to work toward the goal of ensuring, until at least 2030, demand for approximately 50 billion cubic meters per year of additional U.S. LNG. President Biden’s push to displace Russian gas could undermine his administration’s efforts to combat climate change.
LNG insufficient, harmful
Already the world’s largest LNG exporter, the U.S. supplied the EU with 22 bcm of gas last year. The U.S. is already operating at near full export capacity, so exporting an additional 50 bcm of LNG to Europe each year would very likely require new LNG export facilities (taking roughly three to five years to build). Building new export terminals would lock in fossil fuel infrastructure for decades while the dire impacts of climate change are already wreaking destruction in the U.S., Europe, and around the world.
In the short term, aggressively ramping up heat pump installation, improved building efficiency, plugging pipeline leaks, rapidly expanding renewable energy, would cut European gas demand by 12.5 bcm per year, and lowering thermostats 1°C in winter will save another 10 bcm. Longer-term, those measures could slash total EU gas demand by 243 bcm per year. The Biden administration is in the process of drafting an executive order, still in the “pre-decisional” phase, to invoke the Defense Production Act to enable the rapid build out of clean energy, storage, and heat pump manufacturing capacity, according to reporting from the Intercept. (LNG announcement: AP, Bloomberg $, Reuters, CNN, BBC; Undermining climate action: Bloomberg $; Export capacity limits: New York Times $; Gas demand reductions: Washington Post $; DPA EO: The Intercept)