Krk LNG terminal, one of several examples of fossil fuel projects backed by the EU. Photo: © xbrchx / Shutterstock.com
EU climate policies reviewed
EU reduces CO2 emissions by 2 per cent, risks failing to meet sustainable energy targets, and gives green light to new fossil gas projects.
The European Union (EU) cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2 per cent in 2018, according to preliminary estimates released on 31 October 2019 by the European Environment Agency. The EEA public statement says that “rising energy consumption continues to hamper progress on the share of energy generated by renewable sources and on energy efficiency. As in previous years, the transport sector remains a particular concern with rising GHG emissions, low uptake of renewable energy sources and insufficient reductions in the life-cycle emissions of transport fuels. The EEA report “Trends and projections in Europe 2019 — Tracking progress towards Europe’s climate and energy targets” presents analysis of EU progress towards the 2020 and 2030 targets for climate and energy. Two specific analyses provide an overview of emission trends under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) up to 2030, and of GHG intensity of transport fuels in 2017. Climate Action Network Europe commented that “the data published was just bringing emissions back down to approximately the level the EU had already achieved in 2014. This practically means that the EU’s emissions were at a standstill for four years. The report also shows that more emission cuts could be achieved if member states revive the boom in renewable energy, and more importantly if they push energy savings a lot more than currently as the EU’s energy efficiency target for 2020 is clearly at risk of not being met”. CAN Europe concludes that “progress in renewable energy share and energy efficiency is clearly too slow”. It also highlights that member states have to greatly accelerate the pace of the energy transition in the next decade for the EU to meet its 2030 energy targets. “In order to achieve ambitious greenhouse gas emission cuts by 2030, EU countries’ energy and climate plans must aim at accelerating the pace of the clean energy transition and phasing out the use of fossil fuels. This is the only way for them to account to the millions of citizens who are demanding concrete and rapid action to prevent the worsening of climate change.”
Friends of the Earth Europe reported that on the same day the EEA published its report in one of the last acts of President Juncker’s administration, the European Commission had backed 55 new climate-damaging fossil fuel projects, as part of a list of priority energy projects – a move that flies in the face of the climate emergency, say Friends of the Earth Europe in a press release. This fourth edition of the list, known as the Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, lends European Commission support to dozens of new climate-damaging gas infrastructure projects with lifetimes lasting decades. Colin Roche, fossil-free campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “In one of its last acts, the Juncker 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.”
Controversial fossil fuel 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. 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.
Controversial projects backed by the EU Commission include: Gas mega-pipelines connecting Europe to Azerbaijan and crisis-ridden eastern Mediterranean countries; and terminals for importing polluting fracked gas from the US, including the controversial LNG terminals in Krk in Croatia, and Shannon in Ireland (which is caught up in a legal dispute and faces criticism for its links to the US fracking industry), as well as terminals in Greece, Cyprus and Poland. EU LNG import terminals have been running at less than a quarter of their capacities in recent years. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Marija Mileta, of Zelena Akcija / Friends of the Earth Croatia, commenting on the EU Commission’s support for the Krk LNG terminal in Croatia, said: “It’s unacceptable that the European Commission is giving support to climate-wrecking projects such as the Krk LNG terminal, while at the same time it’s portraying itself as a climate leader and talking about a European ‘green deal’. What’s more, the Commission is pushing for a project that is opposed by the whole Krk community, and despite there being numerous legal omissions and complaints from civil society organisations. In a state of climate emergency, this is not only hypocritical, but also dangerous.”
“Campaigners are calling for the Trans-European Networks – Energy (TEN-E) Regulation, which governs the PCI list, to be aligned to EU climate commitments,” concludes Friends of the Earth Europe.
Compiled by Reinhold Pape