Biden Strikes Gas Deal to Reduce Europe’s Reliance on Russia

Environmentalists criticized the announcement because they fear it will force the United States and Europe to use fossil fuels for decades longer than they believe is feasible given the mounting toll of global warming.

“There is no way to ramp up USLNG exports and meet the compelling climate commitments the US and EU have committed to,” said Abigail Dillen, the president of Earthjustice, an environmental law organization. She warned that building LNG infrastructure “would entail expensive fossil dependence and dangerous pollution for decades to come”.

US and European officials also agreed to seek ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from LNG infrastructure and pipelines and reduce methane release from gas operations.

The Biden administration has banned Russian energy imports as part of a broader set of sanctions against Mr Putin, a relatively easy move for the United States as it is a net exporter of energy. Some US lawmakers would like the European Union to stop buying oil and gas from Russia altogether, but the prospect of doing so has been rejected by several EU leaders, who see it as a financially disastrous move that would hurt Europe more than Russia.

Still, some energy experts said a further escalation of the war, or a decision by Mr. Putin to use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, would leave the EU little choice but to ban the purchase of Russian energy.

“As Europeans, we want to diversify away from Russia to suppliers we trust, who are friends and who are reliable,” said Ms von der Leyen of the European Commission when announcing with Mr Biden. “Therefore, the US commitment to supply the European Union with a minimum of 15 billion cubic meters of LNG this year is a big step in this direction, as it will replace the LNG supply we are currently receiving from Russia.”

For oil and gas executives, who have become accustomed to being criticized for not doing enough to combat climate change, Friday’s announcement was a welcome change of tone. But they said Mr Biden and Ms von der Leyen must be patient and recognize that decisions about who sells gas to whom will be made through negotiating tables by private companies, not politicians.

“This is a capitalist system,” said Mr. Souki of Tellurian. “It’s people like me who make those decisions. The government cannot tell us where to send the gas.”

Matina Stevis-Gridneff contributed reporting from Brussels and Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting from Berlin.

SOURCE – www.nytimes.com

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