EU Lawmakers Rubber Stamp Top EU Priority List for Energy Infrastructure

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For immediate release: 22 February 2022

Contact: Frida Kieninger (EN, DE, ES, FR), [email protected], mobile: +32 (0) 487 24 99 05

Brussels – MEPs in the EU Parliament’s Energy Committee today voted with a large majority in favor of the Union List of Projects of Common and Mutual Interest (commonly known as the PCI list), a move that could lock in continued fossil fuel dependence. 

The PCI list is a top EU priority list for energy infrastructure, drafted by the EU Commission with considerable influence from the fossil gas transport industry (ENTSO-G). 

This 6th PCI list is the first list under renewed rules since the updated Trans European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) Regulation entered into force, which was allegedly crafted to exclude fossil gas projects from eligibility.

Ahead of the vote, close to 60 civil society groups from across Europe have called on EU parliamentarians to reject the PCI list: “These projects risk becoming stranded assets while helping the fossil fuel industry to stay rich by selling false solutions.” 

Projects on the 6th PCI list voted today include large-scale hydrogen projects that would transport fossil-based hydrogen. The projects were approved for inclusion even though they lack an analysis of life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions as well as an assessment of infrastructure needs for priority uses of hydrogen. All 68 hydrogen projects have been submitted by the fossil fuel industry.

The list also includes more than a dozen CO2 transport projects to boost a European carbon capture and storage (CCS) market. CCS is a technology that has been widely criticized for repeated failures to actually permanently store CO2 or reduce climate pollution. CCS has been strongly supported by fossil fuel companies that  claim industry emissions can eventually be removed in the future.

MEPs backed two particularly problematic fossil gas pipeline plans on the PCI list: the Melita TransGas pipeline between Malta and Sicily, as well as the multi-billion EastMed pipeline from offshore Cyprus to Greece.

“The PCI list is supposed to represent our common interests, but this is a fossil fuel industry wishlist of false solutions and failed technologies like hydrogen and so-called carbon capture,” said Frida Kieninger, Director of EU Affairs at Food & Water Action Europe.   

“PCI projects will benefit not only from eligibility for EU tax money but also from faster permitting procedures and environmental impact assessments. And some of them are explicitly fossil fuel projects; two particularly problematic and contested fossil gas projects in Malta and Cyprus – the EastMed and Melita TransGas pipelines – have  been greenlighted by decision makers.” 

The objection to the 6th PCI list has been dismissed by ITRE MEPs, with 50 MEPs against, 11 MEPs supporting the objection and 2 abstentions. During the March 11-14 session in Strasbourg, a PCI list objection will be voted on by the EU Parliament plenary.

EU Commission publishes ‘PCI List’ with hydrogen infrastructure costing over €50 billion

Important climate, supply and demand questions remain unanswered 

Brussels, 28 November – The EU PCI list published by the EU Commission today is heavily titled towards large-scale hydrogen transport projects backed by the fossil fuel industry – raising serious concerns about the high costs and limited climate benefits of the projects due to leaks, fossil-based hydrogen and failure of the CCS technology which is needed to generate ‘blue’ hydrogen. 

The PCI list, also called ‘Union list of projects of common interest and projects of mutual interest’, includes 68 hydrogen transport and storage projects, which is in stark contrast to only 17 electrolyser projects that would generate hydrogen. 

All of the hydrogen transport projects on the list were submitted by the fossil gas industry. This comes as little surprise, given the revised TEN-E regulation failed to address the blatant conflict of interest built into the selection rules for Projects of Common and Mutual Interest (PCIs and PMIs). According to the regulation, ENTSO-G, the European network of the fossil gas transport industry, has a central role in assessing the projects and generating scenarios for infrastructure needs. Over three quarters of the projects on the final draft list were submitted by ENTSO-G members, the very same organization involved in making the PCI List selection rules.

Projects included on the PCI list are considered ‘top EU priority’, benefit from accelerated permitting procedures and might receive public funding.

A Food & Water Action Europe analysis based on industry information from the latest Ten-Year-Network-Development-Plan for gas shows that building the 68 hydrogen transport projects on the list alone would cost at least €50 billion, with further €22 billion operation costs in the next 20 years. Given a third of the projects have been submitted without public cost figures, the cost for building and operating all 68 hydrogen transport projects could amount to up to €100.

These costly projects have not been subject to any independent climate impact assessment, nor to a detailed assessment of infrastructure needs for scarce, costly hydrogen flows to priority uses only. 

The EU risks supporting the build-out of an oversized, inefficient and unneeded hydrogen grid at the request of the fossil gas lobby. Instead of helping the gas transport industry sustain their business model via hydrogen, we need an infrastructure plan adapted to realistic uses and supply of hydrogen, and to exclude all projects transporting fossil fuel-based hydrogen”, said Frida Kieninger, Director of EU-Affairs at Food & Water Action Europe.

The PCI list will now be submitted to the EU Parliament and the Council for scrutiny in the form of a delegated act. The Council and the European Parliament can tacitly or explicitly approve the delegated act, or reject it, which will happen in early 2024.

Fossil fuel lobbyists undermining energy crisis measures across Europe

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Fossil FuelsClimate

Brussels, 25 October 2023 – Lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry have successfully pressed governments and the EU to undermine measures meant to reduce household bills, protect people from energy poverty and tax windfall profits during the energy crisis, new research from the Fossil Free Politics campaign and national partners shows. 

Case studies from Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, the UK and at the EU level in Brussels has revealed that the oil and gas companies profiting from the energy crisis have lobbied to weaken and delay windfall taxes, scupper protections for households struggling to pay, and even get clearance for new drilling.

Chloé Mikolajczak, Fossil Free Politics coalition co-ordinator said: “Europe’s addiction to fossil fuels has created this energy crisis, and the companies most responsible are lobbying to claw even more profit from it at the expense of households struggling to pay the skyrocketing bills. Asking oil companies to advise on this crisis is like asking a fox to consult on henhouse design. Politicians have a responsibility to protect people – from climate breakdown, and from corporate greed – so they have to put a firewall between their decisions and the companies behind this destruction.”

The research comes as the calls for a firewall between the fossil fuel industry and climate and energy policymaking become louder. Members of the European Parliament, from four political groups, today launched a new pledge for fossil free politics in Europe, with the aim of gathering more signatures towards the elections, and over 100 civil society organisations and trades unions published a declaration calling for the same. This comes after 100,000 signed a petition to kick the fossil fuel industry out of politics.

Key findings of the research

In Italy, where the government has appointed a fossil fuel lobbyist as an advisor, oil and gas giant ENI has used the crisis to secure more drilling and new liquified gas terminals. 

In the Czech Republic, energy giant EPH used public threats, a powerful media empire and ties to the ruling political party to delay and weaken the windfall tax on excess profits. 

In the UK, fossil fuel lobby group Offshore Energies UK used privileged access, parliamentary receptions and special advisory groups to ensure the windfall tax is weakened and full of loopholes. 

In Spain, energy companies Endesa, Naturgy and Iberdrola have used a complex web of political, legal and PR manoeuvres, including a series of employees moving to or coming from Spain’s top legal civil servants, to fight measures that curb their profits and to make vulnerable families bear the financial burden instead of them. 

At EU-level, oil and gas lobby group International Association of Oil & Gas Producers has lobbied – and been invited to advise – the European Commission, pushing for more fossil gas and other technologies to extend gas’s lifetime like unproven carbon capture or hydrogen infrastructure, advice that will keep bills high and Europe hooked on fossil fuels.

Follow Fossil Free Politics at: www.twitter.com/FossilFreeEU 

Fossil Free Politics is a European-wide coalition which campaigns for a firewall between the fossil fuel industry and climate policy. It is coordinated by Corporate Europe Observatory, Food and Water Action Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Global Witness and Greenpeace EU.

EU Transparency Register: 461250348032-23

Fossil Fuel Industry Steps Up Pressuring to Weaken Methane Rules

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MethaneFossil Fuels

As the EU legislative process moves on, polluters push to undermine progress 

Brussels, May 5, 2023 – Ahead of the European Parliament’s plenary vote on the EU Methane Regulation due on May 9, climate activists are denouncing the fossil fuel industry’s fierce campaign to weaken proposed European Union rules addressing methane pollution.

The European Commission’s proposed regulations were watered down before a vote in December. Now the European Parliament prepares to cast votes, the polluters’ lobby has been working to make sure the rules remain weak.

Among the main players were Eurogas, an EU fossil gas association, which has repeatedly stressed the need to weaken key aspects such as provisions related to monitoring methane emissions, leak detection and repair (LDAR), and thresholds for venting. More information about lobbying activities on the EU methane file can be found on the Influence Map’s Methane Platform.

These attempts to weaken the text of the regulation are now in danger of once again being reflected in the amendments tabled by MEPs on the right side of the European Parliament ahead of the plenary vote. Additionally, a  recent article published by der Standard documented how the amendments presented by some Member States before the adoption of the EU Council position in December corresponded almost exactly to the demands formulated by large energy companies. 

Of particular concern are the measures related to cutting methane emissions associated with coal. On this point, the Polish coal industry succeeded in heavily diluting the methane legislative proposal. The joint report adopted by the European Parliament’s ITRE (Energy) / ENVI (Environment) committees on April 26 is weaker on coal than the European Commission’s initial proposal. 

As a result of lobbying activities by the Polish coal industry, the European Parliament is proposing to relax the Commission’s proposal allowing coal mines to release additional greenhouse gas emissions. Polish mining companies, owning several mines (some of which are not emitting methane), could easily comply with the regulation through accounting tricks rather than any actual methane reductions.

Enrico Donda, Gas Campaigner with Food & Water Action Europe, released the following statement:

“Corporate interests are working hard to undermine what could be real progress on reducing methane pollution. Although the committee vote was a step in the right direction, climate advocates are concerned about these coal rules, in addition to the fossil fuel industry’s lobbying to further weaken the text in the next legislative stages”. 

 

“The EU bloc is among the largest fossil fuel importers in the world. It is estimated that between 75-90% of the methane emissions caused by EU fossil fuel consumption occur outside our borders. So we cannot afford to implement feeble provisions and half-baked solutions. An ambitious final text – not one with the fossil fuel industry’s fingerprints all over it – is vital to give us a chance to limit near-term warming while focusing on the need to phase out fossil fuels”.  

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Contact:

Enrico Donda, Gas Campaigner, Food & Water Action Europe (FWAE) [email protected], +32 485 187 523

 

BRIEFING: Most LNG from United States to Europe Comes From Fracking, New Analysis Shows 

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LNG

Brussels – 7 March: A new analysis of EU gas imports by Food & Water Action Europe and Gastivists finds that fracked US gas could represent as much as one eighth of all gas the EU consumed in 2022.  This LNG boom is locking Europe into fossil fuel dependency and sky high costs to pay hundreds of billions of Euros for gas imports and gas infrastructure.

The new briefingFracking – Coming to Your Doorstep,” points out that the U.S. Energy Information Administration ( EIA) found that 87% of the gas extracted in the US is fracked tight or shale gas.

The EU imported 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of dirty US LNG in 2022. The top US LNG importers in the EU in 2022 were France with 15.6bcm, followed by Spain with 12.3bcm and The Netherlands with 10.9bcm. The top gas importers  relative to their national 2022 gas demand were Lithuania (US imports represent 135% of the national consumption) followed by Croatia (74%).

The looming climate crisis, the cost of living crisis and the weaponization of fossil fuels are all linked to fossil gas,” said Frida Kieninger, Director of EU Affairs at Food & Water Action Europe. “As energy poverty continues  to rise,  the EU is going all in on  deepening its dangerous, costly LNG dependency. Doubling  imports of fracked US gas, one of the most polluting fossil fuels, is a horrible decision that threatens our climate goals and creates more air and water pollution in communities that are suffering from the effects of fracking.”

Six of the 10 LNG importing countries analysed in the new report have moratoria or outright bans on the brutal method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, used to extract oil and gas from the ground. Still, there is no restriction in any of these states on importing fracked fossil fuels, despite the outrageously high methane emissions and air and water pollution linked to them.

The abrupt policy shift towards fossil fuel imports appears to be far beyond what was imagined just months ago. US gas import volumes of 55 bcm show that the EU-US deal struck in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of  Ukraine, has been more than overshot: The EU imported more than three times as much US LNG as agreed in spring last year.

This greed for LNG, coupled with its considerable economic power, has turned the EU into a dangerous gas bully on the global LNG market. Plans for increasing EU import capacity in the next years amount to mind-boggling 195 billion cubic metres, with 50 bcm planned for 2023. In contrast, the entire global additional LNG supply for 2023 is expected to only amount to 20bcm.  This has already wreaked havoc on international markets; EU countries can offer more money for shipments than many other countries that are dependent on LNG, provoking blackouts in Pakistan and fears in poorer import countries that LNG suppliers will break their contracts to go for a higher bidder.

Instead of delivering billions to LNG polluters, advocates urge political leaders to  rapidly scale up renewables and energy efficiency. These  clean, cheap and proven solutions could  terminate Europe’s dirty, costly fossil dependency and provide a way out of the climate and energy crisis.

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Contact: Frida Kieninger (English/German/French/Spanish) – [email protected], tel +32 028 93 1045, mobile +32 487 279 905

Ambition Wanted – MEPs To Adopt A Bold Position On The Methane Regulation

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Fossil Fuels

Photo from the stunt. Photographer: Philip Reynaers

Brussels, February 27, 2023The European Parliament’s Committees on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) were expected to adopt on the 1st of March their position on the legislative proposal to regulate methane leaks and emissions in the energy sector. However, the work on the legislative file slowed down and the joint committee vote was postponed to a later date in March. This will be followed up by a discussion and vote in the European Parliament’s Plenary. The EU Parliament needs to act without further delay and it can’t risk starting trilogue negotiations with an unacceptably weak position, facing an even weaker Council’s position

Methane, the main component of fossil gas, is a climate-wrecking and severely underestimated greenhouse gas with more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. According to the latest  International Energy Agency (IEA)’s figures, in 2022 global methane emissions from leaky fossil fuel operations were close to a record high of 135 million tonnes. To put things in context, the 2022 Nord Stream pipeline leaks in the Baltic Sea were only equivalent to no more than a couple of days of ‘regular’ methane emissions from the fossil industry. Science is clear that we can’t hope to limit global warming to 1.5°C, 2°C or any target if we don’t drastically cut methane emissions. 

The first-ever EU legislative proposal on methane emissions fails to include effective measures to regulate methane emissions from fossil fuel imports. The regulation envisages only a requirement on importers and EU operators to ‘communicate’ methane emissions data. 

The EU is a massive fossil fuels importer, and estimates show that carbon or methane emissions associated with imported gas consumption are three to eight times higher than methane emissions occurring within the EU. A regulation failing to include methane leaks along the whole supply chain, from extraction to distribution, means willingly ignoring a large majority of the methane emissions Europe is responsible for. 

Already in December, the EU Council adopted an extremely weak position on the regulation, which basically represents a handout to the fossil fuel industry. The joint ITRE and ENVI vote in March is a chance for the MEPs to vote for the well-being of the people and a livable future. This means adopting a bold position on cutting domestic and import-related methane emissions now and working towards a fossil fuel phase-out instead of worsening Europe’s dangerous fossil fuel dependency. 

The EU Methane Regulation needs strengthened domestic provisions on Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV), Leak, Detection and Repair (LDAR) and Limits on Routine Venting and Flaring (LRVF) for the fossil fuel sector and those measures must be extended to energy imports. A recent legal study shows this is possible. 

To move off Russian gas, Europe looks at Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) from the U.S., Qatar or Nigeria as a remedy for lack of pipeline gas. LNG shipped to Europe from the U.S. is almost entirely produced by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a technique that releases high volumes of methane emissions into the atmosphere. The Methane Regulation must not end up being a diluted regulatory instrument, in stark contrast to the EU’s commitment to be a global leader in the fight against climate change.

Yet, even with the introduction of stringent reduction rules, methane emissions will remain a major issue. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that 70% of current emissions from oil and fossil gas operations are technically feasible to prevent, but simply limiting methane emissions will not provide a definitive long-term solution. This is why any methane reduction legislation needs to be linked with a fossil fuel phase-out plan and a halt of fracked gas imports. Only an ambitious plan to cut methane emissions along with Member States, while working towards a fossil gas phase-out by 2035 is a plan that is compatible with Europe’s climate targets and with protecting a livable climate for future generations to come. 

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Contact:

Enrico Donda, Gas Campaigner, Food & Water Action Europe (FWAE) [email protected], +32 485 187 523