EU Gas Insight: planning the EU gas phase-out by 2040

12. 06. 2024
AUTHOR: Aymeric Kouam

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed the European Union (EU)’s vulnerability and dependency on natural gas. Industries and households have suffered from the high energy prices caused by the absence of the “usual” gas supply and the subsequent shift to liquefied natural gas (LNG). Shifting to LNG will only generate new dependencies, especially on the United States. 

With the aim of securing gas supplies and responding to the perceived urgency, the EU and its Member States have concluded several agreements and deals with third countries, accompanied by the development of more gas infrastructure capacities, mainly on LNG regasification terminals.

However, as the EU decarbonises, the demand for gas will structurally decline in the next decade, and can be phased out in 20 years. This will be possible through a strong electrification of the economy, efficiency improvements and a massive deployment of renewable energy sources. This has constituted part of the EU’s response to the Russian crisis – scaling up renewable energy and improving energy efficiency – as a smart economic and security strategy.

Strategic Perspectives has developed an interactive visualisation tool that quantifies the risk of gas overcapacity and the unnecessary construction of oversized gas infrastructures in the EU in order to raise awareness among EU decision makers on the necessity to consider the dynamics between gas demand and supply.

A “transition away from fossil fuels” agreement was concluded at the 28th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP28). The EU can lead in a structured and cost-effective way as part of its debate on the EU 2040 climate target and priorities for the next European Commission mandate by:

  • Defining clear end-targets for coal, oil and gas per sector, with the support of a zero-emission electrification framework that sets clear zero-emission electricity and electrification targets,
  • Avoiding stranded assets and building or maintaining infrastructure that is no longer needed, and
  • Planning for the decommissioning of existing gas infrastructure.