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For more examples of our impact, see our 2020 annual report 

Following months of pressure from Global Witness, the European Commission took a critical step towards ending the EU’s support for climate-wrecking fossil gas.

Annual report 2021 - fossil gas

For the world to meet the commitments made at the Paris Climate Summit, the use of fossil gas needs to reduce significantly. As a starting point, this means curbing the disproportionate impact of Big Oil companies trying to peddle it as a solution to the climate crisis. Sébastien Thibault / Global Witness

The EU has the world’s third highest carbon emissions, behind China and the US, and emissions from fossil gas have now surpassed coal in the bloc. The Commission argues it is doing its part to fight the climate emergency through the European Green Deal which aims to reach ‘net-zero’ emissions by 2050. This would require reducing gas use by 90 percent by 2050. But in reality EU law gifts fossil fuel companies huge influence over what gas infrastructure it should support and subsidise – spending billions on projects like pipelines or import terminals that lock us into using too much gas for decades.

Working with allies across Europe, Global Witness spent 2020 campaigning to stop this. Our investigation Pipe Down demonstrated why the EU should end gas companies’ undue influence, showing how they have pocketed nearly 90 percent of EU subsidies – over €4 billion – in a remarkable conflict of interest. Following this, our exposé Pyrrhic Victory argued against the futility of building new gas infrastructure. Crunching the numbers, we showed that the proposed EastMed pipeline – which would run from offshore Israel into Europe – would transport more gas than the EU can use while inflaming tensions between Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus.

These findings injected new arguments into the debate surrounding the review of the EU’s infrastructure law, the Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) Regulation. Our advocacy before Commission officials and members of the European Council and Parliament led to an invitation to join expert consultations on the review.

In December 2020, the Commission published its proposed changes to TEN-E. The EU would no longer support fossil gas projects, the Commission proposed – a major victory. Success has not been absolute, as there is some wiggle room and fossil fuel companies still have too much power.

Entering 2021 we continue our work on this, as the Commission’s proposal is debated by the Council and Parliament, focusing specifically on how much taxpayer money is wasted by Europe’s gas projects and why corporate influence over the EU is so corrosive.