Wednesday, January 19

SV hard against the climate minister’s gas cruise in Brussels

In meetings with European colleagues, Espen Barth Eide has spoken warmly about the role of Norwegian gas in the EU’s green shift. SV believes the climate minister is talking about the oil companies’ case.

Climate Minister Espen Barth Eide (Labor Party) believes that gas “is still an important part of the bridge on its way to pure zero emissions”.

For the Minister of Climate, it was good news that leaked to several European media over the New Year weekend. The European Commission will propose that gas and nuclear power in a transitional phase can be considered as green energy sources.

The proposal is controversial internally in the EU, and has not yet been adopted. It deals with the EU’s so-called taxonomy, a comprehensive scheme for managing investments in a sustainable direction.

The goal is to manage huge amounts of capital for sustainable investments. And with some specific terms In other words, the EU Commission will include gas and nuclear power in this.

Norway has worked for this. This was one of the topics when Climate Minister Espen Barth Eide (Labor Party) met EU Climate Minister Frans Timmermans in Brussels on 20 December.

Eide confirms to Aftenposten that he has fought for the place of Norwegian gas in Europe’s green shift.

– I will not take the main credit for that development, but I hope that I contributed constructively, says the Minister of Climate to Aftenposten.

SV is anything but happy with Eide’s efforts.

– This fits in with a very un proud pride of Norwegian governments in recent years, where they have gone to Brussels to talk warmly about a fossil energy source, which is gas, says the party’s climate policy spokesman Lars Haltbrekken.

– It is particularly worrying that it is the Minister of Climate who does this. It has previously been the Minister of Petroleum and Energy’s job, he adds.

Gass diplomacy

The energy crisis in Europe is undoubtedly part of that the background to the proposal. The proposal from the European Commission is also based on a political tug-of-war between France, the EU’s largest nuclear power producer, and Germany, which is now phasing out its nuclear power.

The role of gas in the energy transition, or the transition as Eide says, has nevertheless been recorded by the Norwegian side several times. The last push was when Eide attended the EU meeting of environment ministers in Brussels just before Christmas. He then met with a number of Minister of the Environment colleagues from a number of EU countries, as well as with the EU’s Climate Minister and Vice President Frans Timmermans from the Netherlands.

– It was a theme. In several of the bilateral talks, we talked about gas and transition, says Eide.

The Minister of Climate Affairs talks warmly to Aftenposten about the proposal from the EU:

– Gas is still an important part of the bridge on the way to pure zero emissions. And the gas can eventually become hydrogrenous, says Eide.

He emphasizes that the proposal from the commission means that gas must be considered sustainable in a transitional phase, and that there are strict requirements for low emissions in production. New gas-fired power plants must not emit more than 270 grams of CO2 per kilowatt. This is less than the cleanest gas power plants today, according to Climate and energy. After 2035, they must also use hydrogen or low-carbon gas, which is natural gas mixed with hydrogen.

– Within what we are working on now, to find out what Norway’s role is in the major global energy transition, we think this is quite sensible. But it is important to emphasize these premises: There is a transition, and there are low emissions, says Eide.

– Decarbonization is a journey

He points out that the new German government says that they will build more gas power plants, but that they will be built so that they can become hydrogen power plants after a while.

– Decarbonisation presupposes that you make a journey from A to B, where you gradually reduce emissions. I think it is an element of wisdom that is important for the EU and very interesting for us, because it gives natural gas a role in that transition.

Haltbrekken is tired of hearing about gas as a bridge to the zero-emission society.

– The arguments have been the same since the 90s. But the EU’s climate plans show that Europe must cut back on gas consumption to meet its climate goals. They must reduce gas imports. The oil companies have been concerned about this. And then they have obviously succeeded in getting the government to speak their case, he says.

Fearing gas will displace renewables

The fact that it is a question of a transition phase or the requirements for low emissions does not make the matter better for SV.

– No, we fear that fossil gas will displace renewable and emission-free energy, Haltbrekken answers.

– The government is probably sovereign to do as it pleases in foreign policy. Can you really do something about this?

– We will take it up with the government and in the Storting, as we have done with oil and energy ministers before. Now we must make the Minister of Climate understand that fossil energy is not the solution, not even for a temporary period.

When Aftenposten asks Eide about the criticism that has also come from a number of EU countries, he answers:

– In an ideal world, one should really say that only completely green things are green. But part of the problem with taxonomy is that everything has to be green at once. Then you will not catch the transition from brown to green, which the gas can be if it replaces coal, but which it is not if it replaces wind. As long as you aim for zero emissions in the end, then this is a natural part of the road there.

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