Brussels, December 15 – The European Commission’s plans to reform the EU gas market would lock in dependence on the fossil fuel and hand more decision-making powers to the fossil gas industry, according to Global Witness.

The Gas Package is the EU’s main policy tool for governing how the EU gas market functions. The Commission’s proposed revamp emphasises a growing role for hydrogen as part of an attempt to “decarbonise” the gas market.

However, several of the package’s core proposals would create lock-ins for fossil gas, leaving European households on the hook for costly, unjustified grid investments and reliant on the expensive, polluting gas:

  • It will permit more investment in the fossil gas grid by promoting the idea that hydrogen and biogas can replace fossil gas, allowing gas companies to blend up to 5 percent hydrogen into the gas supply. However, blending in hydrogen does little to cut emissions, pushes up costs for consumers who won’t benefit and only serves to slow the shift off fossil gas.[1]
  • It proposes more self-regulation by the fossil fuel industry. The proposals reconfirm the central role of gas grid companies in deciding future gas grid investments. It suggests that a new network of hydrogen infrastructure could be owned, operated, and governed by the fossil gas industry until 2030. With the fossil gas industry’s track record of overbuilding capacity and passing on costs, there is a real risk that consumers and taxpayers will once again they end up footing the bill.
  • Instead of facilitating a phase out of gas for heating homes as part of the transition to affordable renewable heating, the proposal emphasises costly consumer-level tweaks such as smart gas meters, which fail to deliver the system-wide changes that would add up to a managed phase-out of fossil gas. Communities would remain locked out of local gas grid planning, leaving local grid companies free to expand.

 Tara Connolly, senior gas campaigner at Global Witness said:

 “It’s never been clearer that Europeans need to get off fossil gas. But instead of putting the needs of people first and showing a bold vision of a transition to affordable, renewable heating for all, the Commission has announced a masterclass in greenwashing. It has left consumers at the mercy of greedy gas companies, determined to keep investing in expensive gas grids we no longer need. Citizens and communities would be left carrying not only the cost of these pipes but also the cost to their health, the climate and their pockets through fossil gas.

 “National governments and the European Parliament need to pull out all the stops next year to make sure the final law gets fossil gas out of our homes, kicks the fossil fuel industry out of the decision-making process, and puts us on a pathway to clean, renewable heating and power for everyone.”