EU Commission accused of breaking Climate laws on very day President announces European Green Deal
The future for new fracking gas terminals across Europe at risk once again
Brussels — Representatives from NGO’s in Europe and the United States have formally accused the EU Commission of breaking its own rules when it approved support for fracked gas import terminals across Europe. The groups have formally requested a review of the decision from the Director General Commissioner of Energy over concerns that the construction on new gas infrastructure to facilitate trade deals with the United States would wreak havoc on the global climate.
The list of supported projects, known as the Projects of Common Interest (PCI) were approved by the EU Commission in October following an assessment that failed to consider climate or sustainability impacts. If approved by the European Parliament the supported projects which include the controversial Shannon Liquefied National Gas LNG project in Co. Kerry in Ireland would become eligible for significant funding, and are given priority in fast track planning and licensing processes.
The Trans-Atlantic group of NGOs’ appeal raised the accusation that Trade Considerations for the importation of US fracked gas, as agreed by Presidents Trump and Juncker in July 2018, are dominating over considerations of climate change in the European Commission, forcing European Commission staff to turn a blind eye to the disastrous climate impacts of establishing new markets for American fracked gas.
“Increasing scientific evidence about the negative climate role of fossil gas and the need for a swift phase-out show that biased EU subsidies for fossil gas projects will result in dire consequences for the environment and Europe’s economy“, says Andy Gheorghiu, policy advisor for Food & Water Europe.
“The failure to properly address the sustainability and climate impacts of proposed fossil gas Projects of Common Interest is a fatal flaw in the current (and past) lists and represents a breach of crucial European environmental/climate law/legislation, for example Article 11 TFEU, Article 191 TFEU and Article 37 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.”
The latest peer-reviewed research on fracking for gas notes that methane is a greenhouse gas almost 90 times more powerful than carbon-dioxide over a 20 year period and that shale gas development in North America is the single largest driver of this increase in methane, accounting for one-third of the increase in global emissions from all sources.
The appeal comes on the very day that President Ursula Von der Leyen announced the adoption of the European Green Deal. How the Commission deals with the carbon leakage and non-territorial emissions of US fracked gas imports into Europe on a massive scale which leave a carbon footprint 44% greater than that of coal will quickly reveal whether the European Green Deal is to signal real actions or just aspirations.
Eddie Mitchell, Communities for the Environment First commented,
“We hear a lot rhetoric from the Commission about sustainable development and climate mitigation. Unofficial trade agreements between the Commission and the U.S do not take precedence over the rule of law in Europe. The credibility of the PCI process is at stake. If trade wins over climate we all loose. What does the European Commission stand for?”
Kate Ruddock, Friends of the Earth Ireland commented,
“How can we trust an institution when it does not even follow its own rules. The failure to assess the climate and sustainability impacts of major energy infrastructure projects is unacceptable and must be corrected before MEP’s vote on whether or not to approve the entire list of projects at the European Parliament in February.”
NOTES The request for the internal review was lodged by Irish NGO’s Friends of the Earth and Communities for the Environment First, by the European NGO Food and Water Europe and the American NGO Food and Water Watch.  The Projects of Common Interest List is published by the European Commission every two years and contains energy infrastructure projects that are considered to contribute to the security, affordability, competitiveness and sustainability of Europe’s energy supply. The projects on the list are entitled to special priority in planning processes and are eligible to apply for EU funding. The 2019 list contains many electricity projects that can be relevant for the energy transition, as well as fossil gas and even oil infrastructure projects. Previous PCI lists contained over 100 projects directly linked to the importing and transportation of fossil gas. The 4th iteration of the PCI list was published by the European Commission in October this year. It contains over 55 fossil gas projects, including 5 Liquified Natural Gas terminals. Members of the European Parliament must approve or reject the list in its entirety the coming months (Jan-Feb).