31 May 2022, Brussels – Responding to the European Council endorsing the European Commission’s RePowerEU plans to quit Russian gas, Murray Worthy, gas campaign leader at Global Witness said:

“EU governments have signed Europe up to wasting billions on new gas pipelines and import terminals that would lock us into long-term dependence on a fuel we do not need, and our climate cannot afford. This is a reckless move that will drive up consumers bills. At best it could lead to billions being wasted on infrastructure that will not be used in the future, at worst be a major contributor to irreversible climate change.

“This is a plan that falls short on delivering what the moment requires, an immediate process for the rapid phase out of all fossil fuels. Until it does so, the future of the planet remains at stake, people will continue to have to choose between heating and eating, and autocrats that get rich off fossil fuels will be empowered."

The REPowerEU plan aims to use EU funds to attract €10 billion in new investments in new European gas infrastructure, including gas import terminals in Germany, Finland, and the Netherlands, and pipelines in Croatia, Poland, Greece, Spain and Italy.

Analysis by energy experts has shown that the EU does not need to build any new infrastructure to quit Russian gas, and that this can be achieved through more ambitious reduction in gas demand than is proposed by the Commission.

New infrastructure threatens to lock in Europe’s dependence on increasingly expensive gas for the long term, which would continue to push European households into energy poverty. Analysis by Global Witness and Ember shows the REPowerEU proposals’ limited efforts to reduce gas demand could see an extra €200 billion added to the EU’s energy bill in 2030 due to high gas prices. This fossil fuel lock in would also put the EU’s long term climate goals at risk.

The RePower EU strategy also sets out plans to source additional gas from other countries, including a joint agreement reached in March with the US to increase exports to Europe.

Murray Worthy continued:

“Fossil fuel exporting countries like the US should be wary of seeing today’s news out of Europe as a cue to massively expand gas exports. While the EU is set to waste billions on gas in the short-term, in the long-term it is setting a path off fossil fuels and on to renewables. Building more gas export terminals would be a waste of money and cause huge harm to US communities along the fossil fuel supply chain.”