Europe is turning its back on December's climate agreement in Paris, and further shackling itself to fossil fuels, according to Friends of the Earth Europe. The European Commission's 'energy security package', announced today, is the first big test for Europe's energy future, and prioritises subsidies for, and investments in, dirty fossil fuels, including gas, and the infrastructure required for them – locking Europe into decades of fossil fuel use.
Molly Walsh, climate justice and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "We don't have long to completely decarbonise our energy systems. But instead of prioritising genuine solutions like renewables and energy efficiency, Europe is shackling itself to gas. The 'energy security package' locks Europe into decades of fossil fuel use whilst stifling renewables."
Research demonstrates that the demand for gas is falling, and will fall further with the increase in renewables and energy efficiency. Europe is already facing an over-supply of gas, with gas infrastructure sitting idle. Investing in energy efficiency and renewables instead will bring environmental benefits, improve energy security, and create jobs, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.
Molly Walsh continued: "Why invest in gas we don't need? Energy efficiency improves energy security and creates jobs. For every €1 million invested in energy efficiency, there are twice as many jobs compared to traditional power generation. Instead of securing profits for an ailing oil and gas industry, Europe can benefit from energy and environmental security through energy savings."
Prioritising further fossil fuel imports, especially through liquefied natural gas (LNG), could mean an influx of carbon-intensive imports like shale gas – which can be as intensive as coal – and infrastructure that will take years to build and pay off.
Antoine Simon, anti-fracking campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Pumping money into unnecessary infrastructure for liquefied natural gas is completely incompatible with a fossil-free future. It opens Europe's back door to even more carbon-intensive imports like fracked gas. Europe is pushing controversial extraction beyond its borders, and turning a blind-eye to the impacts."
According to Friends of the Earth Europe, to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, Europe urgently needs to transition away from fossil fuels towards renewables –especially community owned and managed – and energy efficiency.