Blog Posts: Pollution

February 4th, 2020

A Just Transition is Possible for Ireland’s South West

The Shannon LNG terminal is still promoted as a key employer for the South-West of Ireland. But the transition to clean, renewable energy offers a better path for workers and the climate.

A beautiful view in Ireland.

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

By Ciara Barry

The rural area of Ballylongford in County Kerry, Ireland, has become the centre of attention in a debate that pits advocates of the gas industry against those pushing for a renewable energy future.

Ballylongford is the proposed location for Shannon LNG, an import terminal which seeks to import liquefied fossil gas, likely sourced from fracking operations in the United States.

Although the project was granted planning permission in 2008, due to legal challenges and a campaign co-initiated by Food & Water Europe two years ago, not a brick has been laid in this controversial project.

Read the full article…

October 23rd, 2019

Cut Fossil Fuels of Our Politics

Cut coal, gas and oil out of politics! /

To tackle the climate emergency, and ensure that climate policy is conducted entirely in the public interest, we must cut fossil fuel interests out of our politics, similar to existing restrictions on the tobacco industry.

We are joining Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe and Greenpeace EU and almost 200 other organisations worldwide to campaign for fossil free politics.

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June 19th, 2019

Touring Four of the Most Pointless Gas Projects in Europe

By Frida Kieninger

Summer time is travel time!

What about taking a trip to some climate disaster projects across Europe? In 2017, Food & Water Europe took you to some of the most ridiculous and costly gas projects that applied to become part of the EU’s priority list for gas infrastructure, the List of Projects of Common Interest (PCI list). This year, in the brand new 2019 all-inclusive experience, we will take you to some more gas projects that make absolutely no sense and are applying for a spot on the PCI list…

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December 6th, 2018

Another COP Flooded by Fossil Fuel Corporations

By Frida Kieninger

This week COP24, the UN climate change conference, kicked off in Katowice, Poland. Ahead of the COP, activities took place in various countries to show the peoples’ demand for truly ambitious climate talks and against false solutions. Brussels saw what is most likely its largest climate march in history on 2 December and thousands of Australian students went on strike over their government’s inaction on climate change.

The COP host country and particularly the region around Katowice are heavily dependent on coal, and fossil fuel corporations are not only sponsoring the talks but also very visible throughout the conference. To showcase this blatant case of conflict of interest, public interest group Corporate Europe Observatory will organize a lobby tour around the COP24 location.

What else is happening around gas at the COP?
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August 13th, 2018

We’re Literally Eating and Drinking Plastic. Fossil Fuels Are To Blame.

Originally posted on Food & Water Watch.

Download the fact sheet

By Darcey Rakestraw

Care about plastic pollution? Then it’s time to work to start moving away from fossil fuels.

Plastic is a serious problem, and it’s time we addressed it at its source: fossil fuel production. Plastics are increasingly fueled by fracking in the U.S.—the extreme method of extracting fossil fuels that is polluting our air and our water, and exacerbating climate change. Fracking provides the cheap raw materials for plastics production, which has lead industry publication Plastics News to say fracking “represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity.” More fracking equals more profit in plastics (which equals, you guessed it…more plastics.)
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July 12th, 2018

The Two Faces of the EU Commission’s Gas Narrative: Arguments Against Nord Stream 2 Completely Ignored in Discussions Around EU Priority Gas Projects

By Frida Kieninger

A while ago, the European Commission published another briefing paper about Nord Stream 2. A steadfast opponent of the planned big underwater pipeline aiming at expanding the gas transport capacity between Germany and Russia through the Baltic Sea, the Commission brings a set of arguments pointing to several reservations in connection with the project.

Interestingly, they use the same line of argument they completely ignore when it comes to other pipeline projects, particularly the Commission’s list of priority infrastructure projects, the PCI (Projects of Common Interest) list.

Nord Stream 2 Vs. the Commission’s Priority Projects: Stick and Carrot?

Having a closer look at some of the arguments, it is striking how contradictory the Commission’s narrative is on the project in question. The briefing paper laments that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline “would cost billions of euros that could be spent in other priority segments of the economy and the energy sector” and that the pipeline’s economic rationale ignores EU objectives on energy efficiency, renewables and research and innovation.

This is a warning that NGOs and grassroots groups have sounded several times in connection with the large amounts of money the EU Commission granted and will continue granting to several projects of common interest. In order to have a chance to stay well below 2 degrees of global warming, direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuels have to cease; in particular, public money must not be invested in backward-looking technologies locking us into further decades of fossil gas use.
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March 23rd, 2018

“Renewable Gas” Is Not Clean or Green

By Frida Kieninger

The fossil fuel industry has been trying hard to promote gas in many forms as “sustainable” or “green”. There are different ways of producing gas that the industry calls renewable, but this term is misleading. Is it sustainable or green to create dependence on waste, cut trees for biomass, and produce methane with the same chemical structure and characteristics as fossil gas?

Why does the fossil fuel industry want to promote the idea of non-fossil gas? As big infrastructure operators generally push for gas use in Europe, using the magic idea of renewable gas is very handy for them to justify decades of infrastructure buildout that serves both fossil and non-fossil gas. The question is: Does it add up? Will these gases significantly reduce CO2 emissions? Where does the feedstock for these gases come from? Does all this make economic sense?

Here are a few of the issues that need to be taken into account when we’re talking about non-fossil “renewable” gas.

Biogas: The Biofuels Deja-vu

Since their introduction, biofuels have earned a lot of criticism for their role in land grabs, displacing food crops for energy, loss of biodiversity, climate change and pollution. While biofuels liquid fuels based on biomass turned out to be a very bad idea, something similar seems to have been re-introduced through the back door: biogas. Biogas is a mix of gases generated through the breakdown of organic matter through anaerobic digestion (digestion in the absence of oxygen).

Feedstock for biogas, for example, can be waste, sewage sludge, energy crops, manure or biomass. Using waste to generate energy can make sense in a few limited cases but we should not lock ourselves into a society dependent on producing enough waste that we can heat our homes or cook. Also, using manure will turn into an issue sooner rather than later, quite apart from the fact that manure does not automatically create methane and to a big extent it can be avoided. Biogas production is no justification for big agribusiness. But in Europe, big factory farms may only get built because they commit to produce biogas.

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December 12th, 2017

Fighting Big Oil and Gas in Northern Germany

by Andy Gheorghiu and Frida Kieninger

Photo by: Christian Eckhardt

Natural gas plant near Großenkneten
Photo by: Christian Eckhardt

On 2 December, a number of German citizens’ initiatives[1] met with Food & Water Europe in Hamburg to discuss oil and gas exploration in the country and strategies for the coming year.

The main points discussed were planned exploration in a water protection area in Verden, Lower Saxony, an international project by Hansa Hydrocarbons to drill for gas in the North Sea (nearby the Wadden Sea), and the construction of a terminal to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Brunsbüttel port.

New drilling in a water protection area?

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September 26th, 2017

Betting on Chaos: Financial Firms Seek to Cash In on Climate Change

By Mitch Jones

Earlier this month the Financial Times reported that a new climate change prediction market [subscription required] is being created in the United Kingdom. The market, similar to a sports betting book, is the “brainchild” of the financial firm Winton Capital. Initially, the market will allow bets on levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and on temperature rises, but Winton Capital hopes to expand it in the future so that sea level rise, extreme weather, and other pollution levels become the topic of bets.

What’s equally strange is that Winton Capital is paying for this market out of its philanthropic budget. There’s nothing philanthropic about betting on climate change.
Read the full article…

August 29th, 2017

Tour d’Europe, Part II: Great Victories of the Movement to Ban Fracking

By Tina Callebaut

During my last days as an intern here at Food & Water Europe I would like to take you on a tour of the many different victories against fracking in Europe. As drilling has started in Lancashire despite opposition from local communities, it is now more important than ever to stand together in solidarity to not only halt but prevent fracking projects everywhere by banning the technique and promoting the development of clean renewable energy. Here is a run down of the current state of fracking in Europe.

France

Let’s kick off our tour with a visit to France, where in March 2010, two exploration permits were granted for shale gas. The licenses covered in total an area of around 9.672 km². Massive protests followed, which led the Prime Minister at the time, François Fillon, to declare a moratorium on the exploration of shale gas in 2011, which prohibits the exploration and exploitation of liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons through hydrofracturing and cancels the exploration permits for projects where hydraulic fracturing would be used. France’s Constitutional Court confirmed the constitutionality of the ban and the revocation of the permits in October 2013.

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, the law only prohibits the use of hydraulic fracturing, but does not impose a ban on the exploration or exploitation of gas through other techniques. As the technique is not clearly defined by the law, small changes and new innovations might already have the ability to circumvent this ban. However, in June 2017, the French minister of environmental transition announced that there would no longer be any permits granted for the exploration or extraction of hydrocarbons in France. Nice one, France!

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