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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden administration has filled in more blanks on its approach to natural gas, but the overall picture remains murky.

Catch up fast: The Treasury Department is pressing multilateral development banks (MDBs) not to fund natural gas exploration and production.

  • But the new policy still backs projects further down the development chain, like pipelines, if certain criteria are met.
  • "Guidance" last week to MDBs like the World Bank also opposes finance for new coal and oil projects.

Why it matters: It's a concrete way that Biden hopes to use Treasury to steer investment away from fossil fuels and toward climate-friendly sources.

  • Stephanie Segal, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, notes the U.S. has leverage with the MDBs.
  • It's the largest shareholder at the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and near the top in some others.
  • The U.S. position "translates into voting power and an outsize role in setting the institutions’ agendas and lending programs," Segal writes.

The intrigue: Treasury's split decision on gas financing reflects the wider nuances and uncertainties around the White House approach to natural gas.

  • The Interior Department has temporarily paused oil-and-gas leasing on federal lands, but the future scope of lease sales remains unknown.
  • Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has voiced qualified support for U.S. liquefied natural gas exports.
  • White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy, asked last week about gas' role in administration policy, said they support an "all of the above" policy on energy, per the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The big picture: Gas is tricky! It produces far less CO2 when burned than coal.

  • But methane leaks in gas production, transport, and so forth erode some of that advantage.
  • And pathways to meeting the Paris Agreement goals require movement away from all fossil fuels.

Go deeper

Fossil fuel executives to testify at "landmark" hearing focused on climate disinformation

An oil flare at a BP plant in Whiting, Indiana. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced on Friday it will hold a "landmark" hearing next week with fossil fuel executives focused on the industry's role in spreading climate disinformation.

Why it matters: This is the first time oil company CEOs, and the head of their main trade group, will testify under oath about their knowledge of the link between burning fossil fuels and climate change, per Axios' Andrew Freedman.

What to know about COP26 in Glasgow

A banner advertising the upcoming COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, U.K., on Oct. 20. Photo: Ian Forsyth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

More than 100 world leaders — as well as thousands of diplomats and business leaders — are set to converge on Glasgow, Scotland, starting Oct. 31 to try to set new emissions reduction goals at the COP26 climate summit.

Why it matters: It's an annual meeting, but this year's assembly is viewed as crucial, since climate scientists warn that time is running out to secure necessary greenhouse gas emissions cuts to avoid potentially devastating climate change impacts during the next several decades.

Report: Climate change is an "emerging threat" to U.S. economic stability

A firefighter watches an airplane drop fire retardant ahead of the Alisal fire near Goleta, California, on Oct. 13. Photo: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A top U.S. financial coordinating organization took several steps on Thursday to manage the growing risks that climate change poses to the U.S. financial system.

Why it matters: While the Biden administration has been taking an all-of-government approach to climate change, like factoring climate risk into planning at the Treasury Department, today's moves by the politically independent Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) carry significant weight.