The urgency to connect to better fight fossil gas, in order to ensure social equity and climate justice, was the main aim of the Beyond Gas Conference 2023, which was held in Prague, Czech Republic, from 5 to 7 October. During the 3 days of the conference 60 anti-gas campaigners and activists from across Europe, U.S. and Middle East were able to exchange knowledge and information, while developing crucial connections to counter the fossil gas push.
Throughout the conference, participants were not only able to take stock of the progress made by the beyond gas network, and to plan coordinated next steps, but also to better understand the different regional perspectives and dynamics of fighting fossil fuels in the context of a capitalist economic system that generates enormous inequalities. The gathering also provided the opportunity to discuss present and future challenges and opportunities. In particular, deep concerns were raised regarding plans to invest in new fossil projects and false solutions such as hydrogen, the EUs political future in the run-up to the European elections and big global societal challenges.
Additionally, the conference provided food for thought on the impacts of fossil fuel expansion on local communities. In this regard, a U.S. delegation of women community leaders from the region of the Gulf Coast sparked inspiring conversations with other activists from southern Europe and the Balkans to expose how Europe’s fossil gas rush has horrifying consequences on the environment and the people. The clear message, beyond geographical differences, is that there is no such thing as clean fossil gas. The EU is among the largest fossil fuel importers in the world and the main destination for U.S. LNG exports, therefore Europe is directly responsible for the devastating impacts on people, land, water and air that the unbridled fracked gas boom is causing.
We heard the voices of those who fight on the ground every day trying to improve the lives of their communities and to tackle the injustices inherent in our dependence on fossil fuels. As Chloe from Texas Campaign for the Environment said ‘we can not just clock off in the fight we lead because we live in it, we are impacted by it all the time’. Activism for many is a matter of life and death.
At the same time, the cost of fossil gas in terms of death and devastation is extremely high in Europe too. As activists from southern Europe highlighted at the conference, gas is synonymous with war, more and more frequent extreme weather events, racial discrimination, human rights violations and social injustice. Thus, the conference connected the consequences of fossil gas to other multiple, multileveled and intertwined struggles and crises.
Picture from photo stunt outside the Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH) offices in Prague during the Beyond Gas Conference, photo credits to Limity jsme my
The final legacy of this conference is that only a coordinated effort and shared actions will allow us to keep fossil fuels in the ground. As stressed by the US delegation present in Prague ‘this conference marks yet another milestone in building the international solidarity we need in order to create a just, green future for all communities’.