Natural gas must be part of the new initiatives to mitigate climate change



Jérôme Ferrier, President of the International Gas Union and the French Gas Association

As the World Gas Conference prepares to open in Paris, Jérôme Ferrier, President of the International Gas Union (IGU) and the French Gas Association, talks with us about his expectations for one of the big international events of 2015 – the COP21 talks – and give us his viewpoint on the French Energy Transition Bill. Interview.

What are you expecting from the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21), which will take place in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015?

Our expectations are the same as those of the international community, i.e., the confirmation of commitments with respect to reducing CO2 emissions, particularly by the two big carbon-emitting nations: China and the United States. As representatives of the gas industry, we are looking for recognition of gas's role in the global energy transition. While coal's role must be reduced and partially replaced by renewables, there are practical and economic limitations to the massive deployment of wind turbines and solar panels. Natural gas is an integral part of the new initiatives to mitigate climate change. Gas is significantly less polluting than coal and energy needs will remain such that countries like China and India will have to continue to use fossil fuels for some time. That being the case, it might as well be natural gas.

Are you satisfied with the French Energy Transition Bill?

Not entirely... However, the fact that the objective of a 30% reduction in fossil fuels in 2030 would take into account the greenhouse gas emissions factor of each of the fossil fuels is a good thing. Moreover, we see the French commitment to ultimately closing coal-fired power plants as a strong signal to the international community, which could give France a leading role on the European stage.

You have mentioned practical limits for renewables, what about for gas?

The technology is tried and tested, but the logistics infrastructure is woefully inadequate. Take the example of natural gas fuel in transportation: we still need to convince potential customers and political and business players of gas's advantages as an alternative fuel. At present, gas's use in transportation is limited to captive fleets, such as buses and garbage trucks.  This use could be readily extended to trucks through a simple modification of fuel tanks and tax incentives to develop the appropriate infrastructure.  The same thing is true for industry. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) could be transported by tank trucks to certain manufacturers - particularly those for which gas is a preferred energy, such as cement, ceramics and glass manufacturers. Moreover, the distribution of liquefied natural gas in ports, as fuel for ships, could be developed. The French Energy Transition Bill provides for the installation of LNG fueling stations, which would improve the competitiveness of our port facilities.

Interview conducted in partnership with La Tribune

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