IGU -Case Studies In Improving Urban Air Quality

In the run up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations

culminating in Paris in December 2015, there has been a great deal of high-level global political

focus on the issue of climate change. As air quality problems in cities from Beijing to New Delhi

become increasingly severe, the links between action to address climate change and to curb

local air pollution have attracted increasing attention as a means to mobilize political support.

This paper highlights the interconnection that exists between reducing greenhouse gas

emissions and reducing emissions of other air pollutants. It presents case studies of efforts

in four cities— New York, Istanbul, Toronto, and Beijing—to improve urban air quality. These

cities can provide lessons for other cities seeking to reduce the potentially severe health

consequences of urban air pollution

Climate change policies in line with the objective of transitioning to a lower-carbon world are progressively gaining support amongst policymakers worldwide. In the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2015 in Paris, policymakers are intensifying their efforts to agree on a new global framework. The recent agreement between China and the United States and the G-20 meeting in Brisbane in November 2014 underscore these renewed efforts. Because the energy supply sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,1 reworking the current energy supply mix is a priority for policymakers. So far this has resulted mainly in the promotion of low-carbon-emitting energy technologies. However, as part of this strategy, governments are also establishing support schemes for the deployment of renewable energy sources, and in some economies efforts are being made toward higher energy efficiency.

It is widely recognised, at least with regard to existing technologies, that most renewable energy sources in electricity generation need to be backed up by more predictable and stable forms of energy, and fossil fuels often seem to be the unavoidable option. In view of the low-carbon goals mentioned above, it would seem logical that natural gas, as the fuel that produces the most energy per carbon emitted, would be strongly promoted: in combination with investments in renewable energy sources or stand-alone, gas-fired power generation achieves a meaningful reduction in GHG emissions compared to energy mixes that rely mainly on coal, for example.

However, fuel switching for environmental purposes has not yet gained momentum. On the contrary, the last ten years have seen a marked increase in coal-fired generation, which has dwarfed the use of gas-fired generation in some cases and may have even negated the gains from investments in renewable energy. The contribution which gas can make towards reducing global warming by replacing coal in the fuel mix has not been reflected in any firm policies by policymakers.

This paper aims to explain this counter-intuitive development by reviewing the current status of gas as a “clean fuel” in energy policies. It discusses reasons why governments hold back on making gas a centrepiece of their energy policies and examines why the role of coal, the main competitor of gas, has managed to be largely unaffected. The paper concludes with a look at what might lead to a change in the future with regard to the role of gas in a low-carbon economy.

The idea for a survey of wholesale gas price formation mechanisms arose at the beginning of the triennium leading to the 2009 World Gas Conference. The Strategy, Economics and Regulation Programme Committee (PGCB) had set up a new sub-group to consider gas pricing, with a key remit to carry out a comprehensive analysis of gas price formation mechanisms. The sub-group decided to carry out a survey of current pricing mechanisms around the world, not only for gas traded internationally, but also for gas produced and consumed within countries. IGU members were surveyed and provided the data and the survey responses were collated and analysed by Nexant. The 2009 World Gas Conference in Buenos Aires presented the results of the surveys for the years 2005 and 2007. Two further surveys for the years 2009 and 2010 were undertaken and presented at the 2012 World Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur. This 2014 survey is the third survey undertaken in preparation for the 2015 World Gas Conference in Paris5, following on from the 2012 and 2013 surveys, and is the seventh overall. In the 2014 survey responses were received for some 71 out of 109 countries. Data on the remaining countries, where responses were not received, was researched by Nexant. However, the 71 countries where responses were received covered 94% of total world consumption.

All major energy scenarios are positive about the longterm future of gas. Whether it is the International Energy Agency (IEA), the World Energy Council (WEC), Shell or ExxonMobil, they all forecast significant growth of gas demand in the decades ahead. Indeed, in most scenarios, gas will be the world’s biggest energy source in 2050.

Does this mean we can look forward to a Golden Age forGas as predicted by the International Energy Agency (IEA)?

When we look at forecasts made in the past, for example by the IEA, we see that they have often managed to predict future developments quite well. Twenty years ago, the IEA forecasted that gas consumption would grow from 1916 bcm in 1991 to 3163 bcm in 2012. The actual demand in 2012 was 3093 bcm. This seems reassuring.

Yet, we also know that we cannot take any projections for granted. There are many challenges ahead for the gas industry that require timely and flexible responses.

In this report we will discuss the key developments that may significantly impact the gas market up to 2050, based on the work of International Gas Union (IGU) Programme Committee B on Strategy during the 2012-2015 triennium. Furthermore IGU Wise Persons Coby van der Linde, Daniel Yergin and Nobuo Tanaka give their vision on the long term outlook for gas.

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