UNESCO partnership helps global gas exporters ‘boost legitimacy’, undercuts UN climate goals, analysts say

The Energy Mix

The United Nations agency responsible for science, education, culture, and protected areas is undercutting global action on the climate emergency, analysts and campaigners warn, by forming a partnership with a global forum dedicated to promoting and greenwashing natural gas exports.

The Paris-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), forged a partnership with the Doha, Qatar-based Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), a 20-member organization formed in 2008 to promote “coordination and collaboration” among the world’s leading gas-producing countries. The GECF’s latest mid-century Global Gas Outlook sees gas increasing from 23 to between 27 and 29% of global energy demand by 2050.

“Along the way, natural gas is expected to play a vital role in decarbonization options including natural gas-based hydrogen, also known as blue hydrogen, with carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies,” the GECF-UNESCO release stated. Late last month, Italian utility giant Enel said it would shut all its gas plants by 2050 and became the latest potential buyer to declare carbon capture technology a non-starter.

“It’s shocking to see the UN body responsible for the preservation of science and culture getting into bed with global fossil fuel interests like this,” Power Shift Africa Director Mohamed Adow told The Energy Mix in an email. “UN bodies, especially ones with ‘science’ in their title, should be holding fossil fuel producers to account, not being a useful prop in the global greenwashing of the gas industry.”

The United Nations “is where climate change is being tackled at the international level, through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement,” he added. “This move from a sister UN body shows ignorance and a lack of strategic thinking from people who should know better.”

Adow, named last week as a recipient of the prestigious Climate Breakthrough Award, said it was “particularly offensive” of UNESCO and the GECF to “cite Africa as the location where they are most interested in working together,” at a time when a massive LNG project led by colossal fossil Total is “destroying the natural heritage of Mozambique”, with hundreds of families evicted and thousands of people losing their fishing grounds.

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