Today and tomorrow’s challenge. Hydrogen and green gases

Climate altering emissions are increasing, targets are not being met and there is an urgent need to redefine global policies to curb the consequences of climate change in the short, medium and long-term: this is the alarming scenario outlined in recent years which, at the same time, represents one of the greatest challenges in the history of humanity.

To mitigate these effects it will be necessary to develop an economic system based on a progressive decarbonisation, gradually reducing the use of fossil fuels, starting with the most polluting, such as, for example, coal, focusing on the use of more efficient energy in order to curb consumption and promote the development and use of renewable and alternative energy sources.

Among the various initiatives planned, note, by way of example, the future adoption of the European Climate Law, aimed at defining the target of climate neutrality by 2050 in a binding manner in EU legislation. There are also plans to publish a specific plan aimed at improving the goal of reducing emissions by 2030 to between 50% and 55% (compared with the 1990 levels), with the consequent need to reshape some of the main EU legislative acts on energy and climate (for example, the Emission Trading System, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Directives).

For this reason, at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first universal and legally binding agreement on climate change at a global level. The agreement defines a global action plan to keep the average annual global temperature increase to within 1.5% compared with pre-industrial levels. The European Union formally ratified the Paris Agreement of October 2016 and defined and expressed its commitment within the framework of the Clean energy for all Europeans Package by 2030 and the EU 2050 Climate Long-term Strategy, which aim not only to reduce CO2 emissions (-40% by 2030 and -100% by 2050), but also increase the share of energy produced from renewable sources (+32% by 2030) and improve energy efficiency (+32.5% by 2030).

The greater ambition in the area of energy and climate is broadly mirrored in the European Green Deal document. It is a paper, of a non-legislative nature, prepared by the new European Commission team, that took up office on 1 December 2019. The EU Green Deal summarises the collection of initiatives that the new European Commission intends to adopt during its term in office (2019–2024) in order to set out on the journey to climate neutrality by 2050.

The intention of the European Commission is also to reshape the current Gas Directive with the goal of facilitating the decarbonisation of the industry through the definition of a competitive green gas market and dealing with the issue of methane emissions. In this context, Snam has chosen to take a leading role in the energy transition imposed by the Paris agreements and by the objectives defined at EU level, not only through the continued growth of its business, thanks to the example of the progressive phasing out of coal, but also and, above all, through the development of green gases such as hydrogen, biomethane and synthetic methane.

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