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Green groups at COP28 demand U.S. halt support for LNG

Dec 7 (Reuters) - More than 250 environmental and community groups on Thursday called on the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to halt its support for liquefied natural gas (LNG) due to the super-cooled fuel's contribution to climate change.

The groups, led by Friends of the Earth, released a letter to Biden at the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai, where dozens of nations are pushing for a global agreement to phase out use of CO2-emitting fossil fuels like LNG.

LNG is natural gas used for heating and electricity that has been cooled to a liquid state for shipping and storage. Climate activists advocate for phasing out fossil fuels like LNG and replacing them with renewable sources like wind and solar.

The letter demands that the administration stop permitting new LNG facilities and cease financial and diplomatic support for the industry.

The Biden administration has approved five U.S. LNG export licenses to serve the European market following Russia's Feb. 24, 2022 invasion of Ukraine, having approved none beforehand.

The U.S. is the world's largest exporter of LNG, with most of those shipments going to Europe as it seeks to wean itself from a reliance on Russian gas. Carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. LNG facilities have soared 81% since 2019, according to government data.

"Any push for a phase-out of all fossil fuels at COP28 risks falling flat if the world's leading LNG exporter shows no signs of changing course," the letter said. "We urge the Biden administration to publicly commit during COP to no further regulatory, financial, or diplomatic support for LNG in the United States or anywhere in the world."

Ahead of next November's U.S. presidential election, Biden will have to consider how approvals for fossil fuel projects could alienate environmentally minded voters who are part of his base.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. LNG exports averaged a record 11.6 billion cubic feet per day during the first half of 2023, up 4% from the first half of last year, according to the Energy Information Administration. In November, about 68% of U.S. LNG was exported to Europe, according to LSEG.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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