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ClientEarth Communications

7th June 2022

Fossil fuels
European Green Deal

We’re fighting EU support for 30 gas projects

This week, we’re starting legal action against the EU Commission for supporting 30 gas projects across Europe. Every two years the Commission makes a list of energy infrastructure projects that are deemed beneficial to the EU. The list is known as the ‘Projects of Common Interest’ list. Projects that make it on to the list benefit from fast-tracked permits and EU funding.

We believe that the EU Commission is breaching its own climate and energy laws by including 30 gas projects in the list, which will benefit from massive public support. So together with our partners, Friends of the Earth Europe, Food and Water Action Europe and CEE Bankwatch Network we are beginning legal action to end EU support for the projects.

Why is the current list unlawful? 

The total cost of all projects on the current list amounts to €13 billion in taxpayer money. 

Methane and CO2 emissions are harder to estimate – because the Commission and the project owners have not calculated them properly – but they will undoubtedly be sky high.

Methane is the main component of fossil gas, with a global warming potential over 85 times higher than that of CO2 over 20 years.

We’re arguing that the EU is shooting itself in the foot by supporting the projects because, in doing so, it’s ignoring its own climate and energy goals and its legal obligations under the Paris Agreement. This is unlawful. Experts have clearly said no new gas or other fossil fuel developments should be built if we are to limit warming within 1.5C. 

The list also comes as Europe faces an energy price crisis, caused in part by over-relying on price-volatile gas.

Our lawyer Guillermo Ramo said: “This list amounts to a VIP pass for fossil gas in Europe, when we should be talking about its phase-out. The Commission did not consider the impact of methane emissions derived from gas infrastructure projects in spite of evidence that these impacts are substantial. That’s unlawful.”

What are we doing about it?

The legal action starts with a request for internal review, something that only became possible last year after our 13-year long fight for the right for everyone to take the EU to court over environmental laws. 

The Commission now has up to 22 weeks to reply but if they refuse to budge, we will be able to ask the Court of Justice of the EU to rule.