October 31st, 2019

EU Commission Backs 55 Controversial New Fossil Fuel Projects

Brussels, 31 October 2019 – In one of the last acts of President Juncker’s administration, the European Commission has today backed 55 new climate-damaging fossil fuel projects, as part of a list of priority energy projects [1] – a move that flies in the face of the climate emergency say Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Europe. 

This fourth edition of the list, known as ‘Projects of Common Interest’ (PCI) list, lends European Commission support to dozens of new climate-damaging gas infrastructure projects with lifetimes lasting decades. 

Projects supported include new gas pipelines and LNG terminals – many to import fracked gas from the United States – which could shackle Europe to decades more fossil fuel use. [2] This is despite incoming European Commission President von der Leyen’s promise of a ‘carbon neutral’ continent by 2050 and a ‘Green Deal’ for Europe in her first 100 days. 

Colin Roche, fossil free campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:
“The Commission’s support for yet more fossil gas projects will bring us a step closer to climate breakdown. This new PCI list makes a mockery of the EU’s commitments to deliver a ‘carbon neutral’ Europe, and insults all those who have voted and protested for decisive climate action. MEPs must now reject this list and all new fossil fuel projects.”

Energy projects on the PCI list are eligible to receive EU subsidy under the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’, even though the EU has committed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. 

Fossil gas is an emissions-intensive fossil fuel that is not compatible with the Paris Climate Agreement nor with EU climate targets. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) one year ago warned the world is running out of time to address the climate emergency. 

Attention next turns to MEPs, who face a test of their climate credentials if they vote on whether to approve or reject this PCI list. [3] 

Frida Kieninger, from Food & Water Europe said:
“MEPs must reject EU support for yet more dirty gas projects – this list is based on a deeply flawed selection process that is untransparent, riddled with gas industry interests, and does not consider climate impacts. The climate crisis has no space for the EU Commission’s blatant promotion of dirty fossil fuels.” [4]

Kate Ruddock of Friends of the Earth Ireland, commenting on the EU Commission’s support for an LNG terminal in Shannon, Ireland, said: 

“It’s hard to see how the Shannon LNG terminal even qualifies as a so-called ‘project of common interest’ – it does not connect with the rest of Europe, it has not been assessed for the impacts on our climate targets – it’s in the interest of an American fossil fuel company, not the people of Europe.”

Campaigners are calling for the ‘Trans-European Networks – Energy’ (TEN-E) Regulation, which governs the PCI list, to be aligned to EU climate commitments. [5]

***

For more information, contact:

Robbie Blake, communications team, Friends of the Earth Europe, [email protected], (+32) (0)2 893 1010

Colin Roche, fossil free campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe, [email protected], (+32) (0)2 893 1018, (+32)(0) 489 598984

Frida Kieninger, campaign officer, Food & Water Europe, [email protected], (+32) (0)487 249905

***

NOTES: 

Just weeks ago, the Swedish government denied permission for Gothenburg LNG terminal, a current gas project on the PCI list, citing climate considerations: https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/vast/regeringen-sager-nej-till-planer-pa-naturgashamn-i-goteborg 

[1] Link to the new PCI list

[2] Controversial projects backed by the European Commission include: 

EU LNG import terminals have been used at less than a quarter of their capacities in the past years: https://alsi.gie.eu.

[3] MEPs have at least two months to scrutinise the list. The fossil fuel projects cannot be voted individually, only the package as a whole. 

[4] Hiding in plain sight: how the gas industry influences European energy policy http://www.foeeurope.org/hiding-plain-sight-gas-industry-influences-european-energy-policy-110517 

When asked about climate impacts of the PCI list, deputy director of DG Energy Klaus-Dieter Borchardt said: “Where is the sustainability or climate impact assessment? Unfortunately we are not doing it” https://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/committees/video?event=20191017-0900-COMMITTEE-ITRE 

[5] EU parliamentarians have repeatedly demanded greater inclusion in the PCI list drafting. The Commission has promised a review of the relevant TEN-E regulation, but a revision could take years.

The outcome of a public consultation held on all PCI candidate projects showed that 99.6% of the participants give a negative assessment to PCI projects, but the Commission never published the report http://bit.ly/PCI_publCons2019

Food & Water Europe is the European programme of Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit organisation based in the United States. Food & Water Europe champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people and advocate for a democracy that improves people's lives and protects our environment. https://www.foodandwatereurope.org
###