September 28th 2021, Brussels – MEPs today voted to lock in EU support for fossil gas infrastructure after a key vote in the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee. [1]

The vote – on the revision of the TEN-E legislation, which governs support and funding for certain EU energy network projects by granting them special status as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) and is a key channel for subsidies for the fossil gas industry – means the Parliament has taken a less ambitious position than either the European Council or the European Commission on the phase-out of fossil gas.

MEPs voted to:

  • Carve out a special exemption that could allow over 70 fossil gas projects to be granted PCI status. Fossil gas projects on the fourth and fifth PCI lists (the latter of which still must be finalised) would be allowed to apply to maintain their access to fast-tracked planning and other regulatory benefits. [2] According to Global Witness analysis, the new gas these projects could bring into Europe would emit as much carbon dioxide every year as Germany’s entire coal fleet. [3]
  • Provide subsidies for fossil gas projects where an undefined amount of hydrogen is mixed with the fossil gas. With most hydrogen being produced in the EU today from fossil gas, and with no concrete plans to switch wholesale to renewable-based hydrogen before 2030, this would be another back door by which fossil gas and its infrastructure are locked into our energy system.

The move to back subsidies for fossil gas pipelines and terminals pits the European Parliament against the European Commission and national energy ministers, which have already agreed respective positions to end subsidies for all – or the vast majority – of such projects.

Tara Connolly, senior gas campaigner at Global Witness said 

Today’s vote would be a disaster for the climate if it ends up being reflected in the final law. The science is clear: we need to urgently phase out fossil gas to prevent the worst effects of climate breakdown – EU member states must not fall for this giveaway to the fossil fuel industry, and close the loopholes which would allow fossil gas subsidies when negotiations start."

MEPs will now enter direct negotiations with the Energy Council and the European Commission on the final law, after securing a mandate to bypass a plenary vote.