Press release | Nov. 19, 2020

EU Ombudsman decision exposes Commission weakness on climate-wrecking fossil gas

19th November 2020, London – Commenting on news that the European Ombudsman has today ruled that the European Commission failed to assess the climate risks when supporting fossil gas projects, Murray Worthy, Gas Campaign Leader at Global Witness, said:

“This milestone decision by the European Ombudsman underlines what we have already known for some time – the European Commission has been supporting fossil gas projects without any concern for the huge impact this is having on the climate. This exposes the deep problems that exist with the process by which the Commission chooses which energy projects to support, with a disproportionate say given to the fossil fuel companies that stand to benefit from this process.”

“It would now be completely unthinkable that the ongoing review of this process, due to be published in less than a month, does not seriously curb the influence of fossil gas companies and puts a stop to the damaging support for fossil gas infrastructure right across Europe.”

“Today’s decision should be a wakeup call to the European Commission that it cannot meet its climate goals with just grandiose rhetoric. Serious action must be taken that ends the EU’s unashamed and consistent addiction to fossil gas.”

Today’s decision by the European Ombudsman follows a complaint by Food and Water Europe, made last October. 

On 15th December 2020 the European Commission is due to publish its revised TEN-E regulation, that governs which energy projects become “Projects of Common Interest (PCI)“ – meaning they receive public funding and are fast-tracked. A Global Witness submission to this review called for fossil gas projects to be excluded from PCI status and for the influence of powerful fossil fuel companies in this process to be removed. A recent Global Witness report exposed how fossil gas companies have used this influence to pocket 4 billion Euros of taxpayers’ money.

In the EU, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil gas have now exceeded those from coal. Globally, emissions are rising with fossil gas accounting for over 50 per cent of the increase in global greenhouse gas emissions since 2016. Methane - part of fossil gas that leaks into the atmosphere -  is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a twenty-year period and has driven over a quarter of total global warming to date.