1.5 degrees, 2 degrees or more? The Paris Agreement and the climate ambitions of creating a carbon-neutral EU in 2050 have been delayed by the war in Ukraine. Or they? New research from Aarhus University shows that the very high gas prices currently facing the Eurozone are a very effective driver of the shift to environmentally friendly products.
Just a few days after Russia began aggression against Ukraine, researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Production at Aarhus University began to calculate the long-term consequences of cutting off Russian gas for the decarbonization of the European energy system.
The study is based on a high-resolution model of the entire European energy system, including gas-dependent industries, and has just been published in the scientific journal Joule. The study shows that turning off the gas could indeed have a significant effect, depending on the level of ambition in the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.
Politically, since the Paris Agreement in 2015, the goal has been to limit temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius and work towards limiting it to 1.5 degrees.
The strategy was to replace coal with gas in the transition phase, and the war in Ukraine left a serious challenge to this strategy. Aarhus University Associate Professor Gorm Bruun Andresen is one of the authors of the paper and says:
“Russia is the largest supplier of gas to Europe, and in 2019, 34 percent of gas consumption in the Eurozone was accounted for by Russia. With the phasing out of Russian gas, we no longer have enough gas for this so-called transitional phase. means that we have to choose between investing in the immediate installation of large amounts of wind and solar energy, or going back to other options, including coal. The first scenario fits well with a very ambitious climate strategy, and it will very quickly ease the European climate’s dependence on imported gas. But the second scenario actually complicates the implementation of the Paris Agreement in general,” he says.
The model developed by the researchers shows the cheapest and most cost-effective path to the 1.5-degree and 2-degree scenarios for the European energy system, respectively. The model shows that high gas prices force European citizens to abandon gas installations and install heat pumps instead.
As the heating sector accounts for around one-third of total gas consumption in Europe, this transition will have a major impact on the green transition, and it speaks in favor of the 1.5 degree ambition.
“Interestingly, this means that the gas price is the driver of what European politicians have been talking about for years. It does not mean that the gas price and the restructuring of the heating sector are sufficient for a 1.5 degree scenario. No way. . .But it drives the green transition forward to a much greater extent than using gas in the transition phase,” says Gorm Bruun Andresen.
Ebe Götske, who is a PhD student at Aarhus University and researches renewable energy sources in the European context, notes that it is now important to focus on the climate ambitions of European countries:
“A reduction in overall gas supplies to Europe could help accelerate the expansion of renewable energy, provided countries maintain their climate ambitions. Otherwise, we simply run the risk of other fossil fuels replacing gas in the interim period before full decarbonization,” he says.
The researchers behind this model do not hide that they believe that the fastest way to European energy security is to develop an ambitious plan and limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees.
“But this requires the massive deployment of renewable energy sources in the form of solar and wind energy,” says Ebe Götzke and continues:
“We need to install about 400 GW a year between 2025 and 2035, and that will be a huge challenge for European policymakers.”
Materials is provided Aarhus University. The original was written by Jesper Brun. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.