Food & Water Europe Echoes Calls to Allow Peaceful Protests in France During COP21

Statement from Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Europe

Brussels: – “Food & Water Europe supports our French and European allies in calling for the peaceful mobilizations to go forward in Paris around the UN climate talks. Prohibiting public demonstrations undermines the legitimacy of the negotiations, and reduces the chances that meaningful agreements will be made at a time when our climate crisis needs maximum global attention. It is our hope that the French government will reconsider and allow peaceful mobilizations, and that the civil liberties of all participants will be ensured.

“The safety of Parisians, climate activists who would take part in such actions, and participants in the negotiations of course must be taken seriously in light of the tragic events of this past month, but cancelling all demonstrations severely hampers public participation, sends the wrong message.

“While taking some action on climate, President Obama and other global leaders have yet to take even close to strong enough action to stop the Earth’s climate from reaching the tipping point. We desperately need swift and bold measures if we are to have any chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate chaos. This needs to be done now, and for this to happen the ability of the global community to make their voices heard in Paris needs to be preserved.

“We hope that the French government will reverse its decision, but regardless, Food & Water Europe and our allies will be there, participating in meetings, panel discussions, reaching out to the media, and pressuring our elected leaders to keep fossil fuels in the ground, to ban fracking, and to move beyond dirty energy and towards public policies that require an immediate move to a sustainable energy future, including massive investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.”

Contact: Geert Decock tel. +32 (0)2 893 10 45, mobile +32 (0)484 629.491, gdecock(at)

Food & Water Europe Calls on MEPs to Reject Fracking for Shale Gas in Industry Committee Vote on Energy Union

More than 1200 Organizations Around the World Join Call for a Global Ban on Fracking

Brussels – Today, Food & Water Europe is urging Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) – the Industry, Energy and Research committee in particular – to reiterate their opposition to shale gas and other unconventional oil and gas resources due to the negative climate and environmental impacts associated with fracking, when voting on the own-initiative report of MEP Gróbarczyk1. Food & Water Europe hopes that MEPs will recognize the limited potential of shale gas in reducing the EU’s reliance on fossil gas imports. On the eve of the Paris climate summit, the EU needs to show higher ambition for renewables and energy efficiency in order to curb its reliance on coal, oil and fossil gas. This is why Food & Water Europe delivered its ‘2015 Global Frackdown to Paris’ letter2 – calling for a ban on fracking, which was signed by over 1200 groups in 64 countries – to the offices of MEPs. The great success of this letter again demonstrates that the social licence to operate for the fracking industry remains absent. Fighting climate change, while simultaneously allowing exploration for new, unburnable high-carbon resources like shale gas, is inherently contradictory.

“In the year of the critical Paris climate summit and with the impact of climate change becoming more severe by the year, the European Union must send a strong signal to the world that it is committed to keeping fossil fuels in the ground, starting with its own unconventional oil and gas resources”, said Food & Water Europe Director Geert Decock.

More than 1200 groups signed on to the ‘2015 Global Frackdown to Paris’ letter. This letter outlines the main reasons why fracking for unconventional oil and gas cannot be part of any ambitious plans to tackle climate change. First of all, combusting fossil gas instead of e.g. coal releases half the CO2 emissions, but a longer-term reliance on gas will only serve as a bridge fuel to climate chaos. Secondly, more and more peer-reviewed scientific evidence calls into question the low-carbon status of fossil gas due to high levels of ‘fugitive methane’ emissions from its up-, mid- and downstream infrastructure. Last but not least, unconventional oil and gas resources are ‘unburnable carbon’, meaning that their exploitation breaks the world’s remaining and rapidly shrinking carbon budget to stay within the 2 degrees climate target. Instead, the world needs a rapid decarbonisation of its economies, based on ambitious no-regrets policies such as the promotion of energy efficiency and renewables.

Contact: Geert Decock tel. +32 (0)2 893 10 45, mobile +32 (0)484 629.491, gdecock(at)

EU fracking ‘Recommendation’ Fails to Protect Citizens


Brussels, October 8 – EU guidelines on how member states carry out shale gas exploration and production are failing to protect the environment and the health of citizens, a new report has found.

Jointly developed by Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Europe, the report Fracking business (as usual)’ [1] says the European Commission’s Recommendations [2] lack the ability to force member states to even make minimal changes to their shale gas regulations. They also rely too heavily on self-monitoring by the oil and gas industry to control the worst impacts of fracking.

As a result, the report says member states are exploiting the weaknesses of the Recommendations and are failing to take adequate precautionary steps against the potential risks of shale gas, including publishing the chemicals used, safely disposing of fracking waste water, and liability for abandoned oil and gas wells.

Based on the report’s findings, Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Europe have warned that the weak Recommendations are increasing the likelihood of serious threats to communities such as ground water contamination, toxic air pollution, damage to landscapes, and health risks including cancer and birth defects.

Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:

The European Commission and EU Member States lack the political will and ability to strictly regulate the fracking industry. With mounting evidence about the negative impacts of fracking in the US and growing recognition of the long-term risks, we believe that the precautionary principle should be front and centre in decision-making on fracking in Europe. Relying on industry monitoring its own impact is like putting the the fox in charge of the hen house.”

Geert de Cock, Director EU Affairs for Food & Water Europe, said:

“In the year of the critical Paris climate summit and with the impact of climate change becoming more severe by the year, the European Union must send a strong signal to the world that it is committed to keeping fossil fuels in the ground, starting with its own unconventional oil and gas resources.”

Introduced by the European Commission in 2014, the Recommendation asked member states to implement its minimum principles within six months of publication and committed to carry out a review of member states’ actions after 18 months.

Based on analysis of this completed review, together with evidence from EU member states (in particular Poland, the UK, Germany, Spain, Romania and Republic of Ireland), the Fracking business (as usual)’ report has highlighted a number of deep inadequacies in the Recommendation:

Weak and non-binding: The principles outlined in the Recommendation are non-binding, poorly defined, and create legal uncertainty about the relevance of existing EU regulations. They rely primarily on self-regulation by the shale gas industry, allowing operators to decide how best to prevent environmental and health impacts, how best to monitor the installation, and how best to protect the public.

The EU’s scoreboard: Evidence presented in the Commission’s own survey of member state responses (the “scoreboard”) reveals that only four states – Poland, the UK, Lithuania and Germany – have taken legislative or other steps following the introduction of the Recommendation, and that these measures do not fulfil the principles set out in the Recommendation.

Industry defines risks: While member states are encouraged to ensure that potential shale gas sites are fully assessed to identify potential risks, these risks are not clearly identified. Instead, the Recommendation suggests that these will be determined by dialogue between member states and industry.

Inadequate implementation: Risk assessments, monitoring and enforcement are recommended as essential in minimising risk and preventing environmental damage, but evidence suggests that member states often choose to ignore this process. The principles they do introduce are often very industry-friendly, undermining the transparency and legitimacy of the industry. 

Regulatory cost: The non-binding nature of the Recommendation and the reluctance of member states to regulate shale gas exploration and extraction appear, in part, to be due to industry lobbying about the costs of complying with regulation. But analysis by the International Energy Agency suggests that compliance with key environmental mitigation measures would add just 7% to the overall cost of drilling and completing a shale gas well. This appears minor compared to the costs of extraction in Europe, which can be 300% times higher than in the US. 

For more information please contact:

Antoine Simon, Friends of the Earth Europe, antoine.simon@foeeurope, T: +32 2 893 10 18, M: +32 486 685 664

Geert de Cock, Food & Water Europe, [email protected], T: ++2 2 893 10 45, M: +32 484 629 491

Link to the Fracking Business (As Usual) report (

[2] “Recommendations on minimum principles for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons (such as shale gas) using high-volume hydraulic fracturing”