COP28 a watershed moment for pragmatic progress on energy transition

by Paul Everingham

COP28 in Dubai will certainly represent a watershed moment on the world’s pathway to net zero.

It will be the end of the first ever five-yearly stocktake, charting how countries are progressing towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, identifying gaps in current approaches and informing a new round of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to be put forward in 2025.

It also represents an opportunity for nations and stakeholders to demonstrate they are committed to pragmatism and realism in the energy transition.

The past 12 months have delivered some encouraging public commentary about the global energy landscape, particularly as it relates to Asia Pacific. On face value, it appears that there is a growing understanding of the need to balance both energy transition and energy security and the downsides of focusing on only one part of that equation.

COP28 represents a chance for participating countries to make a strong commitment to achieving this balance and ensuring that NDCs (both current and future) are practical and achievable.

The Asia Natural Gas and Energy Association and its members companies therefore urge delegates of COP28 to take the opportunity to recognise the significance role of natural gas and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in providing nations with reliable energy, while also allowing them to move away from a reliance on coal in electricity generation. Gas has been shown to produce up to 60 per cent less emissions than coal in combustion and its potential impact on climate progress in developing nations – like many in Asia – is immense.

At the same time, ANGEA and its membership also seek recognition from COP28 of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a critical technology for mitigating climate change. Again, CCS is especially relevant for Asia Pacific, where major nations such as Japan and Singapore have limited options for renewable energy and many countries are still ramping up their investment in renewables projects.

Employing CCS to abate power generation from traditional fuels (such as gas and LNG) and pairing this with renewable energy will enable countries to reduce emissions while continuing to benefit from reliable baseload power that offsets intermittency challenges.

The world is entering a pivotal five years when it comes to Paris Agreement targets. Stakeholders, including the energy industry, are working hard to achieve the stated overall aims of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees and ideally to 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels.

Natural gas should be part of the solution to this, as an enabler of energy security, as a much lower-emission alternative to coal and as a fundamental starting point for production of low-carbon fuels of the future (such as hydrogen and ammonia). Europe’s pivot to LNG over the past two years and projections for decades of future use illustrate this point.

The ability of gas and LNG to contribute to energy transition will be strengthened by the development of CCS and its employment throughout the value chain – in production, consumption and, most likely, transportation. CCS can also underpin decarbonisation in hard-to-abate sectors like cement and steelmaking and manufacturing (where renewables are not a practical option), enable production of blue hydrogen and blue ammonia from natural gas, and reduce emissions from coal-fired power stations that will remain in operation in Asia to ensure energy security.

ANGEA recently launched a Cross Border Carbon Accreditation Study that will provide a framework to support investment in at-scale CCS across Asia Pacific.

COP28 is a unique opportunity for global leaders from governments, businesses and other stakeholders to visibly endorse both gas and CCS.

From a regional perspective, it’s clear that the world won’t achieve net zero without significant progress In Asia, where nearly 60 per cent of the global population resides.

The next 30 years will see Asia’s energy demand double, delivering economic growth that will bring tens of millions of people out of poverty in places like India and the rapidly growing nations of Southeast Asia.

It’s a challenging balance to strike but one that ANGEA and its member companies are confident can be achieved with the assistance of both gas and CCS.

Recognition at COP28 would be a strong and welcome step towards turning potential into reality.

Paul Everingham is the inaugural CEO of the Asia Natural Gas and Energy Association (ANGEA), which works with governments, society and industry throughout Asia to build effective and integrated energy policies that meet each country’s climate objectives.

Main image by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash