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New report: The gas industry’s lobbying power (11/11/2017)

New report: The gas industry’s lobbying power

This year we have seen devastating hurricanes and floods, deadly wildfires, and other extreme climate catastrophes. But rather than facing up to the problem and focusing on renewable energy and energy reduction, the European Union is locking itself into another 40-50 years of fossil fuel infrastructure.

A new report by Corporate Europe Observatory exposes the power of the gas industry lobby in Brussels, and the impact it has had on the EU’s energy policies. It explains who the big players are, the tactics used, and the role lobbying has played in the construction of new gas pipelines such as BP’s scandal-ridden mega-pipeline from Azerbaijan to Italy and MidCat, the Franco-Spanish interconnector.

According to the research, the gas industry:

  • spent over €100 million in 2016 and had more than 1000 lobbyists on its payroll. Some of the biggest spenders are well-known polluters such as Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, who each declared up to €4.75 million last year.
  • secured 460 meetings in the last three years with the Commissioner for Climate and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete, Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič and their cabinets.

By contrast, public interest groups working to stop the new generation of gas infrastructure:

  • spent just three per cent (€3.4m) of the gas industry’s lobbying budget.
  • have one tenth of the lobbyists (101)
  • secured one ninth of the meetings (51) with the two European Commissioners in charge of Climate and Energy policy in the last three years.
  • Across the industry, millions are spent on PR merchants and marketing campaigns to present gas as a ‘clean’ and ‘renewable’ fossil fuel, providing a ‘bridge’ from coal to renewable energy, or a ‘partner’ to unreliable renewables. But ‘natural’ gas is another name for methane, a greenhouse gas over 100 times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a ten year period, and huge amounts of it leak into the atmosphere during drilling and transportation. Therefore it is equally as bad for the climate as coal, if not worse.

    But industry influence has seen the Commission and national governments embark on a multi-billion euro gas infrastructure building programme. It is based on a list of ‘Projects of Common Interest’ (PCIs, projects prioritised by the EU with boosted political and logistical backing) proposed by industry, refined by governments and finalised by the Commission. The PCI bi-annual update should happen before the year is out.

    Current EU gas plans are not just a disaster for the climate, but also threaten to devastate the communities and environment around extraction and infrastructure sites. The fact that many of the governments lined up to supply the gas are involved in blatant human rights abuses casts further doubt on the trajectory of EU gas policy.

    One example is the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), part of a mega-pipeline that would bring Azerbaijani gas to Italy via Greece and Albania. This PCI project has been met with resistance from local communities in each country. In Azerbaijan, those attempting to denounce the project are faced with repression and jail. Despite this, TAP and other pipelines, like the controversial Franco-Spanish MidCat, are receiving the highest level of political support from the European Commission.

    Rather than transforming the energy system towards wind, sun, and wave power and reducing energy use, the might of the gas lobby is locking us into 40-50 more years of fossil fuels, making it impossible for the EU to live up to the promises it made two years ago at the UN climate summit in Paris. Ironically, more than 100 governments and civil society groups have been urging the UN to remove the fossil fuel industry from the talks due to their blatant conflict of interest in profiting from climate change, but Commissioner Cañete and the EU have been blocking.

    We need to break the gas industry’s grip over policy-makers, particularly in Brussels. The EU needs to stop supporting the fossil fuel industry in the UN talks, and get behind those governments calling for a conflict of interest policy. That also means taking action at home and ending the current cosy relationship with the gas industry. The climate needs to come before industry profits, which means introducing a moratorium on all new gas projects until they are assessed against the EU’s commitment to keep global temperature rises to 1.5oC.

    If not, either Europe will be locked into gas until the second half of this century, or its taxpayers will be left footing a bill racked up by the gas industry as the infrastructure becomes a stranded asset.

    Download the full report here.


Södra gaskorridoren försenas – motståndet växer (10/30/2017)

Södra gaskorridoren försenas – motståndet växer

För snart två veckor sedan väntades EU’s investeringsbank och EU’s utvecklingsbank fatta beslut om lån på 2 miljarder respektive 500 miljoner Euro till två av tre delsträckor (TAP och TANAP) i den planerade ”Södra gaskorridoren” som ska transportera fossilgas från Kaspiska havet till Europa. Dessa beslut sker samtidigt som allt kraftigare protester riktas mot att EU stöttar och finansierar utbyggnaden av ny infrastruktur för fossilgas.

Vi i Fossilgasfällan motsätter oss bygget av en fossilgasterminal i Göteborg, en av slutstationerna i EU’s planerade infrastruktur, och vi står enade med aktivister och lokalbefolkning som längs med de planerade transportsträckorna gör motstånd mot utbyggnaden av ny fossil infrastruktur. Skälen är enkla – fossilgas förstör miljön där den utvinns och längs hela sin transportsträcka. Den är ett fossilt bränsle vars klimatpåverkan enligt forskare är lika stor som den hos olja och kol (Howarth, 2014; Friends of the Earth, 2016).

I ett läge där Sverige, EU och hela världen måste ställa om till en fossilfri ekonomi framstår investeringar i ny infrastruktur för fossila bränslen som helt sanslösa. Låt oss hoppas att det är den insikten som gjort att investeringsbankens beslut fördröjts. Om inte så är det upp till oss att påminna dem om det! Nästa gång det närmar sig ett beslut är vi med och skapar en Twitter-storm med #defundTAP. Anmäl dig här om du vill vara med!

Gå gärna in på https://www.opendemocracy.net och läs mer om motståndet mot utbyggnaden av fossilgasledningen i Grekland, och skriv under namninsamlingen mot EUs finansiering av TANAP på https://350.org.

Tillsammans är vi starka!

Källor:
Howarth, R. (2014). A bridge to nowhere: Methane emissions and the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas. Energy Science & Engineering, 2(2), 47-60.


Infrastruktur gone wrong (10/12/2017)

Infrastruktur gone wrong

Det sägs ofta att en ska gräva där en står och med inspiration från den ständigt växande globala klimatrörelsen har vi sett oss omkring här i Göteborg.
I Sverige har vi mycket lite utvinning av fossila bränslen, men vi har ändå ett ansvar då vi sysslar med förädling, transport och konsumtion av dessa. Detta kan vi inte längre blunda för, vi måste börja se vår del i fossilberoende i vitögat. Världen över reser sig fler och fler emot infrastruktur för fossila bränslen. Dock är det få som känner till att det planeras utbyggnad av infrastruktur för fossila bränslen här i hamnen, därför tänker vi sprida ordet och visa att det inte är en acceptabel utveckling.

Vi är trötta på att gång på gång se våra politiker svika sina egna klimatlöften och låta sig påverkas av den smutsiga fossilindustrin. Det är nu upp till oss medborgare att mobilisera och kräva den klimaträttvisa som är den enda hållbara vägen framåt. Tillsammans är vi starka!


Foto: Kalle Lantz


Taking on fossil fuels in Gothenburg (5/28/2017)

Taking on fossil fuels in Gothenburg: Climate Camp Sweden, Aug 3-7

We’re a group of climate campaigners organising against a big piece of new fossil fuel infrastructure in Gothenburg, Sweden. Our name is Fossilgasfällan (which translates into “the fossil gas trap”) and last week we received some exciting news that we’ll be sharing in this blog along with an invitation to a Climate Camp taking place in Gothenburg in August.

First, to give you a brief overview: The gas company Swedegas is building an LNG terminal named GO4LNG to import natural gas (yes, that’s a very dirty fossil fuel) through the port of Gothenburg (yes, that’s the largest port in Sweden, a country that has committed to go fossil free). This is a trap that must be avoided, as it would delay the climate transition we so badly need.

Photo: GO4LNG

Though the company has cleverly hidden their ambitions behind the claim that the GO4LNG terminal is an environmentally friendly project (for shipping fuel alternatives), we will not be fooled. Swedegas’s ambition (to be found on their own website) is to build new LNG infrastructure in several locations in Sweden, inevitably increasing the consumption of fossil fuels in Sweden.

The oil and gas industry have large resources and a strong lobbyist force in Brussels to rely on. Meanwhile, our main currency is creativity — and as it turns out, we have an entire movement behind our backs.

Photo: Kalle Lantz

And it seems our campaigning the last five months is making a difference. Last week, we learnt that the permit process for building GO4LNG has been delayed because of certain questions submitted by consultative bodies. The company Swedegas has to respond to these questions before the permit process can move forward — and due to summer holidays, this means the permit won’t end up on the government’s desk to be signed off until after summer.

Now, this obviously isn’t where our organising ends. Rather, this is where we scale up and mobilise the joint forces of the movement we know want to end the age of fossil fuels. That’s why we’re now, together with Fossil Free Sweden, Nature and Youth and Friends of the Earth, launching Climate Camp Sweden.

Original photo: Kalle Lantz

This Climate Camp, on August 3-7th 2017, will take place near Gothenburg and will finish with a large mobilisation against the plans to build the LNG terminal in the Port of Gothenburg. During the camp, we’ll invite the movement to skill up and to build community together. It will be loads of fun! And through taking action together at the end of Climate Camp Sweden, we’ll show everyone what the end of fossil fuels can look like.

In the weeks or months after this action, the Swedish government (led by the Social Democrats and the Green Party) will be asked to sign the permits for GO4LNG. The question is, will they dare approve this fossil fuel project? That is up to all of us. 

Sign up now to join Climate Camp in Gothenburg in August.

Photo: Anders Hellberg