Heard in Europe

Lobbyists have drawn Heard in Europe’s attention to “some strange occurrences” in the LNG strategy communication that was unveiled by the European Commission on 16 February.

EurActiv previously reported on how the issue of EU gas demand has become highly politicised, with the Norwegian government and sections of the gas industry asking the Commission to give ‘assurances’ on future demand levels in the EU.

>> Read: Norway sees ‘political risk’ over future European gas demand

In this context, it’s interesting to note that the first version of the LNG communication, uploaded on Tuesday 16 February, contained a graph on gas demand which included a scenario based on the agreed 27% Energy Efficiency target for 2030.

Version 1 of the LNG communication, dated 16 February.
Version 1 of the LNG communication, dated 16 February.

 

However, some time in the following 24 hours after the initial launch, the LNG strategy document on the Commission’s website was changed to remove the 27% Energy Efficiency target scenario and replace it with a less ambitious 25% version.

Version 2 of the draft LNG communication, published some time on 17 February.
Version 2 of the draft LNG communication, published some time on 17 February.

A mistake maybe? Probably not, because the story does not end there.

Also worth noting is that a 30% Energy Efficiency scenario is explicitly referenced in the Commission’s heating and cooling strategy, but wasn’t included in the assessment of the various gas proposals tabled on 16 February.

“From my perspective, I don’t really understand who stands to gain in the long run from all of these shifting numbers and disappearing targets,” said a lobbyist who spoke to HiE on condition of anonymity because of the obvious political sensitivity of the matter.

Infighting over targets are known to be a recurrent feature at the Commission, even though most people would probably see such kinds of jostling as insignificant.

But not at the Commission, where the political infighting apparently still goes on.

Our lobbyist recently checked again whether further changes have occurred since last week. And they did. The original graph including the 27% efficiency target is now back in place, both in the fact sheet here as well as the LNG Accompanying document here (page 3).

What a roller-coaster!

However, there is still no sign of the 30% efficiency target.

Also worth noting, the Impact assessment of the Energy Efficiency Target shows that net gas imports in 2030 would decrease by 17% under the 27% target and by 27% under the 30% target scenario (table 5, page 41).

This is despite repeated declarations by both Commissioners Cañete and Šefčovič that gas imports will remain stable, echoing the argument of the gas industry. The Impact Assessment shows that energy efficiency has the potential not only to offset declining gas production but also to further reduce net gas import needs.

 

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