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EU-Caspian Gas Relations: What About Decarbonisation?

Claire Dupont

Traditional energy security considerations emphasise the security of supply of fossil fuels from multiple sources, and this conception of external energy relations underlines EU ambitions to access natural gas from the Caspian Sea Region. Many political and financial resources have been expended to fulfil ambitions to secure gas supplies for the Southern Gas Corridor. This paper aims to question the necessity of this new gas infrastructure under the context of the EU's ambition to decarbonise by 2050. If the EU is serious about such a transition, are policies to promote new gas infrastructure coherent with these ambitions? To answer this question, I first provide an historical overview of developments in the EU's Southern Gas Corridor, including EU-level policy developments and bilateral drivers and barriers to its realisation. Next, I assess the extent to which this infrastructure is needed, given EU gas consumption needs to 2050 and infrastructure already in place or under construction. I use the 2050 decarbonisation goal as a benchmark to measure the integration of this long-term climate objective into EU policy on the Southern Gas Corridor. To explain the results, I draw on climate policy integration literature that identifies key internal EU explanatory factors, including: functional overlap, political commitment, the presence of climate discourses in the policy process, and the institutional and policy context. In conclusion, I discuss the future of the Southern Gas Corridor, and EU-Caspian Sea Region energy relations, under decarbonisation. It becomes clear that promoting coherent, long-term policy visions in energy policymaking is needed.

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