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European support and funding for fossil gas must end

17 Jul 2020

Friends of the Earth
For Immediate Release
17 July 2020

Friends of the Earth joins over 30 civil society organisations to demand a change to current EU regulation on priority EU energy infrastructure.

Support and funding for fossil gas infrastructure must end.

Friends of the Earth is calling on the European Union to stop funding infrastructure that could lock Member States, including Ireland, into using climate-wrecking fossil gas for decades. Friends of the Earth is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition of over 30 civil society organisations [1], which has submitted to a public consultation on the future of Europe’s energy system [2].

The current law on priority EU energy infrastructure, the ‘TEN-E Regulation’, has made it possible for 55 fossil gas projects to receive highest EU priority as ‘Projects of Common Interest’ (PCIs). Such projects include the controversial Shannon LNG project, which would import fracked gas from the US to Ireland. This Regulation is now being revised, providing an opportunity to end support for fossil fuels and to increase support for cleaner, safer energy such as renewable and community-owned, citizen energy projects.

Commenting, Friends of the Earth gas campaigner, Meaghan Carmody, said:

“EU support for fossil gas infrastructure is fuelling the climate crisis and supporting fracking projects that are having devastating impacts on the health and lives of communities around the world.

“It’s time for the EU to stop investing in climate chaos and to instead invest in projects that have a positive impact on peoples’ lives.”

Ciara Barry, of the Not Here Not Anywhere grassroots campaign group, added:

"The outdated TEN-E Regulation made it possible for fossil gas projects, like the Shannon LNG terminal, to receive high-level EU support despite their incompatibility with the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal.

“The Irish government and Irish MEPs must now work with their European counterparts to ensure that the revised Regulation only supports energy infrastructure that will contribute to a just transition away from fossil fuels."

Friends of the Earth, together with Stop Climate Chaos, has called for a range of changes to the current TEN-E regulation on priority EU energy infrastructure [2].

These include asking the revised TEN-E regulation to:

  1. Be fully aligned with limiting warming to 1.5°C, and with the EU’s revised 2050 and 2030 climate and energy targets and the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy.
  2. Assess the overall climate, health and environmental impact of each European Project of Comment Interest (PCI) and of Europe’s Ten-Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP) for energy infrastructure as a whole.
  3. Expand the scope of projects that are eligible for priority energy infrastructure funding to renewable projects, community-owned and citizen energy projects, energy efficiency and demand-response projects, and distribution level projects that have a cross-border impact on infrastructure needs.
  4. Exclude all direct or indirect support to fossil fuel infrastructure (including fossil gas and hydrogen produced from fossil fuels), oil, carbon capture and storage or use.
  5. End the conflict of interest at the heart of project selection and assessment by reducing the gas and electricity transport industry’s influence over these processes.

In Ireland, the future of Shannon LNG is now in doubt as the 2020 Programme for Government included a commitment to end support for it. However climate action groups are warning that more work needs to be done to ensure that the Irish Government honours this commitment. Friends of the Earth, along with concerned groups across the island of Ireland, is calling on the Irish Government to rapidly publish a policy statement to end the prospect of liquefied natural gas infrastructure as well as imports of gas accessed via fracking.

The Shannon LNG project is also the subject of a legal challenge [3].

Commenting on this, Johnny McElligott, of Safety Before LNG, said:

“The outcome of the case in the Irish High Court regarding Shannon LNG's inclusion on the 4th Projects of Common Interest list could result in a truly significant precedent being set.”

“Projects put on that list are given the highest political priority possible. If the court rules in favour of campaigners and the climate and refers the case to the European Court of Justice, the Commission will not be able to ignore the ramifications of this for the prospects of dirty energy across Europe.”

“However, it will also raise questions about how a project that didn't meet sustainability criteria ended up on the Projects of Common Interest list in the first place. This is a serious governance and transparency issue now for the Commission to deal with.”

ENDS


Notes

  1. Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) is a coalition of over thirty civil society organisations campaigning to ensure Ireland plays its part in preventing runaway climate change. It was launched in 2007 and is the largest network of organisations campaigning for action on climate change in Ireland. Its membership includes development, environmental, youth and faith-based organisations. Its members are: Afri, BirdWatch Ireland, Christian Aid Ireland, Comhlámh, Community Work Ireland, Concern Worldwide, Cultivate, Cyclist.ie, Dublin Friends of the Earth, Eco Congregation Ireland, ECO UNESCO, Feasta, Fossil Free TCD, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Irish Environment, Goal, Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Self Help Africa, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Just Forests, Kimmage Development Studies Centre, Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC), Liberia Solidarity Group, Methodist Church of Ireland – Council of Social Responsibility, Mountmellick Environmental Group, National Youth Council of Ireland, Oxfam Ireland, Peoples’ Climate Ireland, Presentation Ireland, Tearfund Ireland, Trócaire, An Taisce, VITA, VOICE., and Young Friends of the Earth.
  1. Stop Climate Chaos’s full submission on revision on the TEN-E regulation can be viewed here: https://www.foe.ie/assets/files/pdf/13072020_scc__fji_sub_on_ten-e_regulation.pdf.
  1. See https://www.irishtimes.com/business/energy-and-resources/environmentalists-seek-european-court-referral-for-shannon-lng-project-1.4292965

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