Climate Action Framework: Strategies for a Lower-Carbon Future
Posted May 19, 2021
President Biden has committed the U.S. to bold reductions in economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, nearly doubling our nation’s previously determined target. Policy experts have emphasized that we will need natural gas and oil to achieve these climate ambitions.
For example, Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, whose alumni include senior climate advisors in the Biden administration, recently published a report concluding that investments in the domestic natural gas pipeline network could accelerate U.S. emissions goals.
The study’s authors note that U.S. natural gas consumption is projected to rise for at least the next 30 years, even under net-zero emission scenarios. And the International Energy Agency has projected that natural gas and oil will still account for nearly one-half of the world’s energy mix in 2040, even if every nation meets their Paris Agreement targets.
Ushering in a lower-carbon future means addressing the growing, long-term demand for energy, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions at scale. There is no single solution to the climate challenge, but with a comprehensive, cross-sector approach, industry can work with government to drive meaningful progress. (See API President and CEO Mike Sommers’ latest op-ed in The Washington Post on our industry’s commitment to reasonable climate solutions.)
Three opportunities for investment and progress:
- Critical Energy Infrastructure: Natural gas and oil pipelines are the most environmentally friendly way to transport energy for everyday use. Investing in America’s extensive pipeline network supports the delivery of reliable fuels, and this infrastructure development creates good-paying jobs and strengthens U.S. energy security.
- Carbon-Cutting Technologies: As experts develop the new innovations needed to meet global climate goals, energy operators are focused on reducing emissions by deploying carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) – and other advanced technologies – at scale. By enhancing the 45Q tax credit, and funding federal research, the U.S. can accelerate CCUS implementation and hydrogen fuel development alongside broader infrastructure modernization.
- Sensible Emissions Regulations: The natural gas and oil industry is continuously improving environmental performance, through private sector initiatives designed to mitigate emissions from production and distribution. The U.S. government can contribute to additional progress with an economy-wide carbon price policy and workable regulations on methane emissions.
Achieving global climate ambitions will require the combined influence and expertise of government and industry. As API has outlined in our Climate Action Framework, we can develop and deliver a practical plan for addressing our emerging energy challenges and providing a lower-carbon future.
About The Author
Lem Smith is API’s vice president for Federal Relations. Lem joined API in February 2020 as vice president for Upstream Policy & Industry Operations. He previously served as a principal at Squire Patton Boggs, an international law and public-policy firm, where he advised private and public sector clients on federal and multi-state policy matters and provided counsel on communications strategies, campaign affairs and crises management. Previously, Lem was director, U.S. Government & Regulatory Affairs at Encana, and responsible for all aspects of U.S. government relations and regulatory policy matters at the state and federal levels. Prior to that, Lem was director of Government Relations for Kerr-McGee Corporation. Lem began his career on Capitol Hill, working for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker (Mississippi) and the late U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood (Georgia), where he negotiated key member priorities within the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPAct). Lem is a graduate of the University of Mississippi.
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