18th May 2022, Brussels - The European Commission’s plans to quit Russian gas propose investing billions in new gas infrastructure that would lock the EU into long-term dependence on gas, threatening the energy bills of Europe’s most vulnerable and continuing to fund repressive regimes around the world, according to Global Witness. [1]

The REPowerEU plans propose 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  [2]

However, 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. [3]

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. [4] This fossil fuel lock in would also put the EU’s long term climate goals at risk.

The Commission stopped short of introducing sufficiently high 2030 targets for renewables and energy efficiency, which could have further reduced gas demand opting for a 2030 target of 45% for renewables, rather than the 50% demanded by NGOs. The Commission also proposed a 13% energy savings target for 2030, instead of the 20% that NGOs believe is necessary. 

Murray Worthy, Gas Campaign Leader at Global Witness said:

The EU’s plans to quit Russian gas do not measure up to the scale of what the moment demands. We shouldn’t be wasting time and money on new pipelines and terminals that we don’t need – instead we should be pulling out all the stops to boost clean energy and insulation to phase out gas in Europe once and for all. The more we spend importing gas, the more we continue to expose the most vulnerable in our society to unaffordable energy bills, fuel the climate crisis and fund other repressive fossil-fuelled regimes around the world.”

By failing to push for the maximum possible reduction of EU gas demand, the Commission’s plans would mean sending money that would be better spent on clean energy to other states with a track record of serious human rights abuses such as Azerbaijan, Israel and Qatar.