Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Environmental activists are holding back EU’s natural gas projects and calling on the European Commission to review its support for some projects.
NGOs including CEE Bankwatch, ClientEarth, Food & Water Action Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe have called on the EC to re-examine large infrastructure projects like the EastMed pipeline, according to The Guardian reporting on Tuesday.
The EC has up to 22 weeks to show that the pipeline does not violate environmental rules or revise its earlier decision to approve the project. The planned EastMed pipeline would run some 1,900 kilometres from Israel to Italy.
According to the new way of challenging the EC’s decisions introduced in 2021, the Commission has to offer legal justification for its decision or risk the case reaching the European Court of Justice (ECJ), where projects worth roughly 11 billion euro could get held up.
The four NGOs in question stress that the Commission drew up the priority list of projects without considering emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas.
ClientEarth attorney Guillermo Ramo stressed that the Commission’s priority list “amounts to a VIP pass for fossil gas in Europe, when we should be talking about its phase-out.”
He stated that the EC did not take into consideration the environmental effects of methane emissions from infrastructure projects like pipelines, stressing that such emissions are substantial.
EC breaking its rules
“That’s unlawful as it directly clashes with the EU’s own climate laws and its legal obligations under the Paris agreement,” he observed.
The EC draws up a priority list of energy infrastructure projects biennially with the aim of improving energy security in the bloc. According to new rules, new gas projects cannot be listed, but those that the EC deems necessary to secure supply are allowed on the list.
In its latest list, the Commission put forward about 30 natural gas projects that are to be assessed for environmental impact.
Projects on the list include gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and other gas infrastructure.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency, no new fossil fuel extraction projects should be allowed to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial levels.