A changing climate puts Europe’s energy sector at risk

(EurActiv, 20 Jun 2019) Oil and gas infrastructure as well as electric power stations could suffer major failures in the coming years if they are not adapted to withstand extreme weather caused by climate change, EU officials have warned.

There has been much focus on how fossil fuels are contributing to climate change, but the reverse is also true, said delegates at the EU’s Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels.

Andrew Prag, head of the environment and climate change unit at the International Energy Agency, said oil and gas pipeline infrastructure will be vulnerable to changing weather patterns caused by a warming climate.

“Pipelines, particularly in northern permafrost areas, will be vulnerable,” he told attendees at a Brussels debate on Tuesday, focused on preparing the European energy system for the impacts of climate change.

“Melting permafrost could destabilise important oil and gas infrastructure there,” Prag said.

It isn’t just pipelines that will be at risk. Water scarcity caused by climate change will also be a problem for the extraction process, notably for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Prag added.

Port infrastructure for shipping oil or liquefied natural gas (LNG) can also be damaged by extreme weather events or rising sea levels caused by climate change, EU officials warned.

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EurActiv, 20 Jun 2019: A changing climate puts Europe’s energy sector at risk