Using more coal in the short term to displace Russian gas does not lead to a bigger carbon footprint for the European Union, European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans told a ministerial round table at the UN Climate Conference in Egypt Nov. 14.
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Coal and lignite fired power stations in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and France have been recalled to the grid this winter to help reduce gas-for-power demand.
"There's been this very strange narrative going around, that because of the challenges coming to Europe because of Putin's war against Ukraine, we would be stepping back from our ambitions and stepping back from our programs," Timmermans said.
While in the short run Europe would use more coal than anticipated, "this was because we are going to go much faster with our energy transition. At the end of the day this does not lead to a bigger carbon footprint of the European Union," the official said.
S&P Global Commodity Insights forecasts EU10 average coal generation up 4 GW on the year to 19 GW in December. Average gas-fired generation, meanwhile, would be 21 GW lower at 43 GW, while demand would be 14 GW lower at 254 GW.
The EU was in the process of "doubling down" on its climate commitments via the RePowerEU program, going beyond the current agreed goal to reduce climate emissions by at least 55% by 2030, he said.
"We took three decisions in the last couple of weeks: on cars, on what every Member State should do to share the effort, and on how we empower nature to be a better carbon sink," he said.
On Oct. 27, EU member states and lawmakers agreed stricter CO2 emission performance standards for new cars and vans, targeting a 55% emission reduction for new cars and 50% for new vans by 2030 compared to 2021 levels, and 100% reductions for both by 2035.
On Nov. 11, they agreed to increase the 2030 target for carbon sinks in land use and forestry to 310 million mt CO2 equivalent, a 15% hike on the existing target.
Platts assessed nature-based avoidance credits at $12.30/mtCO2e at the close Nov. 11, up from $12.15/mtCO2e Nov. 10, according to price data published by S&P Global. That compares with an average price of $10.03/mtCO2e in 2021.