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COP24: oil & gas feature at Katowice

Just as oil and gas will play essential roles in the world’s energy future, they also featured at the UN’s annual COP climate change conference – held at the end of 2018 in Katowice, Poland. IOGP was there.

“We weren’t sure what sort of welcome we’d receive as representatives of the global upstream oil and gas industry”, says the Association’s Global Engagement Manager, Olaf Martins. “But it turned out to be a warm one. Every official participant received a cozy hat, scarf and gloves to help them cope with the notoriously harsh winter weather for which Poland’s coal capital is known. It was a kind gesture and indicative of the positive reception we got throughout the meeting.”

Olaf was part of an IOGP group that included EU Director François-Régis Mouton (above) and his Brussels colleagues Kamila Piotrowska, Nareg Terzian and Nora Hansen. The Brussels contingent was at COP24 representing GasNaturally, of which IOGP is a founder member.

olaf martins cop 24
Olaf Martins at COP24 (3rd left)

“While neither IOGP nor GasNaturally were involved in any official negotiations at COP24, our presence did enable us to explain to fellow delegates that our industry offers solutions to climate change challenges. In particular, we focused on the cleanerburning benefits of natural gas – which is also a major source of hydrogen – and upstream expertise in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), which is gaining traction as a climate change tool. One of our key messages concerned our industry’s unique ability to deliver industrial-scale ‘blue’ hydrogen by combining seam methane reforming with CCUS,” François-Régis says.

In addition to the main negotiations, Katowice saw a plethora of side events. At the EU Pavilion, GasNaturally organized panel discussions on:

  • Addressing climate change through the growing use of gas and other energy carriers
  • Innovations in emissions mitigation to achieve a sustainable future
  • Millennials and their views on addressing climate change

As the host country’s leading energy company, IOGP member PGNiG held events of its own in the Polish Pavilion. François-Régis led a debate on the use of natural gas to improve air quality. Olaf participated in a panel discussion on reducing methane emissions.

Its moderator was Scott Foster, Director of the Sustainable Energy Division in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, who said: “Natural gas can make important contributions to a sustainable future in the areas of mobility, power generation, improving urban air quality and providing quality energy access in unserved areas” – but only by addressing both methane losses and CO2 emissions. “Placing a real price on emissions and trusting in markets would be key steps.”

Olaf’s contribution reminded the audience that, according to the latest International Energy Agency (IEA) figures, global demand for gas will continue to rise to 45% by 2040. He stressed that, on balance, gas has many more advantages than disadvantages as a fuel to help achieve a lower carbon emissions economy. He pointed out that 40 countries are now importing LNG, while shale extraction is also growing – not only in the US but in other areas as well, such as Argentina and China.

More widely, he emphasized that every country is undergoing its own energy transformation to meet COP goals. “Each transformation is different, depending on the country’s starting point and its chosen method of implementation. What we are really talking about is a series of energy transitions.”

Looking back on COP24, François-Régis says “I’ve never been more convinced that our industry needs to be present at future COPs. From conversations I had in Katowice, I realized that many COP attendees aren’t aware that our industry can bring solutions to climate change challenges. It’s our job to raise awareness, particularly among policy makers and international bodies and to demonstrate that we want to work with them, not against them. If we don’t portray our industry in a positive, pro-active way in the climate change debate, who else will?”

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