Month: January 2022

BOOK REVIEW: The New Map, by Daniel Yergin

By Pooya Hoseinpoori, Research Assistant, SGI

The global energy landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade. Three macro trends have reshaped the energy market and the global energy map over the past decade: the shale boom in the US, the growing role of renewable energy, and the rise of climate policies and government funding. Daniel Yergin, a veteran energy analyst, explores the new energy maps emerging from these changes in his latest book, “The New Map, Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations”. The global energy map has changed significantly since Mr Yergin published “The Quest” in 2011. In the New MAP, he updates and expands his analysis of technological advances, energy and geopolitical changes and presents a compelling narrative of developments that have disrupted the energy world over the past decade.

The New Map opens with the new US map and the shale revolution, which raised the supply and lowered the price of oil and gas, and reshaped traditional oil and gas relations and geopolitics by changing the US’s position on the global energy market. Next is Russia’s map shaped by geopolitical competition and conflicts over un­resolved borders from the collapse of the Soviet Union as well as a pivot to the east strategy and alliance with China. Then there is the new China map with its massive, ambitious international investment strategy known as the Belt and Road Initiative and its strategic plans for securing its commodity trade flows across the South China Sea. The Middle east’s map comes next in the book, formed by frontiers and rivalries and an economy highly dependent on oil and gas revenues. Last is the roadmap of the future and the climate maps discussing how the transition to a low carbon energy system might play out.

Like his previous books, the New MAP is full of detailed stories and interesting statistics about changes and events that formed these new maps: “By 2019 the unconventional revolution (shale boom) was supporting over 2.8 million jobs in the US”, “The US trade deficit in 2019 was 309 billion lower than it would have been if there was no shale revolution”, “China is building eight new airports a year”, “In 2019, $25 million cars were sold in China”, “Between 2006 and 2013 China’s gas consumption tripled” and also stories on Russia’s pivoting to east strategy and the new level of cooperation between China and Russia: “At the same time president Putin and president Xi were making pancakes together, their military joined in a large war game in the Far East”, “Chinese would provide the financing for a massive new $45 billion power of Siberia gas pipeline”, “Russia’s $25 billion investment on ESPO oil pipeline facilitated by $80 billion prepayment China made to Rosneft for deliveries over the next twenty five years”. Through all these statistics and stories, Mr Yergin sets the context for his contention that oil and gas will continue to be part of the ongoing energy mix, and their role remains a central theme of global energy order in the upcoming decades.

Yergin does not doubt climate change or question the transition to green energy. In his book, he discusses the substantial progress made in renewable energy and suggests that the use of wind and solar power will continue to grow despite the obstacles still standing in their way. He also provides a thorough history of the electric car (which I really enjoyed) and suggests that EVs will become commonplace and that governments will impose greater restrictions on fossil fuel use to combat climate change. He acknowledges that a change like this will eventually occur. But he believes that energy transformation is a gradual process that will take a very long time, and he is unconvinced that this will occur at the ambitious rates promised by net-zero targets. In his opinion, climate change concerns are not yet strong enough to majorly alter geopolitical orders or reshape development plans.

The New Map has been met with mixed reactions and responses, with the majority of critiques being directed at Yergin’s stance on energy transition. While some criticised him for being “so embedded in old patterns of thought that he can’t quite recognise the urgency of the climate crisis”, in the eyes of some, “he is injecting reality into expectations of the energy transition”. I share Yergin’s doubts about optimistic transition rates and very ambitious net-zero targets. My critique, however, goes to other chapters in which I found his perspectives US-centric and also primarily focused on oil and gas producing countries, with China being the only big demand centre discussed. I was hoping to read more about developing countries and new MAPs for Africa, India, or South America. Overall though, in my opinion, the New Map is timely and a fitting follow-up to his previous books “The Quest” and “The Prize”.

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Ref 3) internationaledition/20200917/281848646024355

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Ref 5) “The New Map, Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations”, Daniel Yergin, Penguin Press 2020


BOOK REVIEW: ‘How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need’, by Bill Gates

By Semra Bakkaloglu, Research Associate, SGI

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates is also a short book (288 pages). Because the majority of respected environmental books have been authored by scientist and social activists, Gates’s entrepreneurial approach is intriguing. Despite his lack of expertise on the subject, this book is reader-friendly and accessible to anybody with an interest in the subject. He simplifies the science, explains why and how climate change is occurring, and discusses the importance of achieving a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions goal, as well as how we can do so using existing technology and necessary innovation.

Gates explains how to get zero emissions from the world’s annual emissions of 51 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. He focuses on emissions from five industries: electricity, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and heating and cooling systems. In each chapter, he discusses each sector’s emissions and various technologies for reducing emissions. Predictably, his book emphasis the carbon-free technology solutions for the energy system to eliminate a greater percentage of our overall emissions. He highlights how important it is to electrify as much human activity as possible. He is concerned that solar panels and wind turbines are not as efficient as nuclear power in the energy sector. Obviously, he supports the world’s use of nuclear power in the coming years and encourages investment and technological advancements in that sector. He does not, however, go into detail about the future of hydrogen usage, which the entire world is moving toward. He also avoids addressing waste sector emissions throughout the book, particularly how to deal with nuclear waste when advocating for nuclear power. On the other hand, I think he does a great job in the final chapters of summarising the government’s role in combating climate change.

The book didn’t teach me much, but I get the impression that its real purpose is to pique the interest of people who have been complacent up to this point. It does provide an exceptionally detailed overview of the potential answers that are worth exploring. I urge that newcomers to climate change read this book. The concepts expressed here by one of the world’s most admired billionaires will not disappoint you.


BOOK REVIEW: “Sustainability for the Rest of Us: Your No-Bullsh*t, Five-Point Plan for Saving the Planet” by John Pabon

By Zara Qadir, Communications Manager

“Sustainability for the Rest of Us: Your No-Bullsh*t, Five-Point Plan for Saving the Planet” by John Pabon is a short book (just 200 pages) and a definite page-turner for those who want to delve beyond the hype. The book makes you think critically about sustainability (‘as not all giving is equal’) as well as providing a simple plan and crash course guide to sustainability terminology. Pabon talks about how to spot greenwashing and how often philanthropy is misplaced by those who are well-meaning. However, he also highlights projects that have had a real positive impact on communities and the environment.

Pabon describes himself as a pragmatic altruist, and tells us that ‘passion, without pragmatism, is just complaining’. His book is a witty, bold, and refreshing read that makes you feel uncomfortable sometimes. However, his overall advice is solid with a strong background in sustainability at organizations such as United Nations, McKinsey, A.C. Nielsen.

When volunteering your time, he recommends looking at donating your professional skills in an ongoing way where it is needed most. We’ve got to focus on what we can do and not try to do everything at once, so we don’t burn out. He also says it is useful to think like a marketer, not an activist. By this, Pabon means identifying your stakeholders and working with them to find out what the best long-term solution is. The afterword focuses on the impact of Covid-19 and highlights some positive developments, for example, an unprecedented and significant reduction (although short-term) in greenhouse gas emissions across the globe.

Cutting methane in the EU energy sector- is the new Regulation doing enough to tackle emissions?

By Dr Jasmin Cooper, Research Associate, Sustainable Gas Institute

Since 2020 the EU has been proactive in its approach to tacking methane emissions and in October 2020, the Commission published its Methane Strategy (European Commission, 2020), which outlined the Commission’s goal of cutting emissions by 35-37% by 2030 (relative to 2005) across Member States. In October 2021, the EU co-launched the Global Methane Pledge (European Commission, 2021a) and in December 2021 the European Commission released their framework on how to tackle methane emissions in the energy sector (European Commission, 2021b). This framework outlines the Commissions legislative approach for how cuts to methane emissions are to be made, and how to ensure all Member States achieve the necessary cuts. The Regulation introduced addresses methane from oil and gas and coal but emissions from biomass are not included. It aims to develop a union-wide framework that is homogenous in its approach and standards, with a large focus on transparency in emissions reporting and verification. To cut methane emissions, the Regulation focuses on improving emissions monitoring and reporting, eliminating venting and flaring and establishing minimum standards in leak detection and repair.

Improve accuracy and transparency in emissions reporting

The Regulation outlines the rules on how methane emissions from oil, gas and coal production, storage, transport and distribution within the EU’s borders are to be accurately measured, reported and verified. To ensure operators are implementing the measures set out in the Regulation, each Member State must appoint at least one competent authority to oversee compliance with the Regulation. To verify emissions, independently accredited verified will review the emissions reports submitted by the operators and ensure these follow the requirements set out in the Regulation. The International Methane Emissions Observatory will be given a verification role in emissions data and the information produced will be made available to the public and the Commission.

Actions to cut emissions in the oil and gas sector

The Regulation specifies that upon entry of the Regulation, operators must submit emissions reports for all of their operated and non-operated assets on an annual basis. The first report gives source level emission estimates estimated using emission factors. In subsequent reports, emissions are estimated using direct measurement methods with emissions verification by site-level emissions measurements.

To mitigate methane emissions in oil and gas, the Regulation sets out specific rules for leak detection and repair (LDAR), venting and flaring:

 Leak detection and repair

Within three months of entry of the Regulation, operators need to submit their LDAR programme, which outlines the surveys to be carried out. By month six of entry of the Regulation, all relevant components an operator is responsibility for must have been surveyed. In the surveys, a leak is defined as 500 ppm methane and all components found to emit this amount or more must be repaired or replaced immediately, or as soon as possible (but no later than five days after detection).

Limits to venting and flaring

Under the Regulation, both venting and flare are banned except under specific circumstances e.g. emergencies and malfunctions. Flaring is preferred over venting, but only when re-injection, on site utilisation or entry into a gas market is not possible for non-economic reasons. If an operator wishes to vent or flare gas, they must demonstrate that venting or flaring is necessary and must notify the necessary authorities of any venting and flaring event within 48 hours of the event initiating.

Actions to cut emission in the coal sector

To tackle methane emissions from coal mines, an approach similar to oil and gas is outlined. Specifically, the Regulation focuses on ventilation shafts in underground mines, drainage systems and open coal mines. The Regulation largely focuses on improving emissions measurement and monitoring but also prohibits venting and flaring in mines, except for emergencies. For abandoned coal mines, operators are required to measure and monitor emissions from all abandoned and closed coal mines and to report the emission measured on a yearly basis.

Addressing emissions from outside the EU’s borders

The Regulation has a large focus on transparency in emissions data but states that the Union is committed to working with exporting countries to tackle methane. To improve transparency, countries who supply fossil fuels to EU Member States are required to provide the Member State with data on methane emissions: emissions measurements, reporting and what emission abatement measures are being carried out. To aid in improving transparency in emissions data, exporting countries will be incentivised to sign up to international partnerships and coalitions that aim to cut methane emissions, such as OGMP 2.0. The Commission will assess the submitted information on data quality and detail of monitoring, reporting and emissions verification applied by the exporting country. This data will use used to create a methane transparency database, which will be made available to the public for free.

In addition to this database, the Commission will also establish a global methane monitoring tool, using satellite data and emissions data provided by operators. This tool will also be made available to the public and will be used to provide information and updates on the magnitude, occurrence and location of high methane emitting sources.

Does it go far enough?

Following on from the EU Methane Strategy, it is good to see the Commission lay out clear rules for how methane emissions are to be cut. However, while it does tackle key areas in methane abatement such as emissions data quality and accuracy, there are areas which are lacking and could be improved upon revisions to the Regulation:

  • The Regulation does not outline technologies to be used in emissions monitoring, particularly in LDAR and instead chooses to allow Member States flexibility such that LDAR technologies can be innovated and developed.
  • Emissions from coal outside of mining are not included. Methane can also be emitted during coal waste management, handling, processing and transportation.
  • It does not specify penalties to Member States or operators who fail to meet the obligations outlined, and individual Member States are to lay down their rules on penalties. However, the Regulation does specify that penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.
  • The Regulation could go further in applying pressure to fossil fuel exporters. It does not specify actions for exporters whose emissions and reporting standards are not on par with what is to be expected.



European Commission. 2021a. Launch by United States, the European Union, and Partners of the Global Methane Pledge to Keep 1.5C Within Reach [Press Release]. Brussels, BE. Available:

European Commission 2021b. Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on methane emissions reduction in the energy sector and amending Regulation (EU) 2019/942

COM/2021/805 final. Brussels, BE: European Commission