Energy ministers from EU Member States will meet in Luxembourg on 11 June in the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council to discuss the proposal to revise the rules for building trans-European energy networks (TEN-E Regulation). Environmental organizations in Central and Eastern Europe have sent a joint statement to the representatives of the Council of the European Union on the danger of reintroducing fossil gas projects as Projects of Common Interest. The letter comes after the governments of CEE countries sent their support for gas infrastructure projects, Greenpeace said.
The TEN-E Regulation supports the cross-border energy connection of European Union countries and funds Projects of Common Interest (CIPs) on the priority corridors. The revision of the TEN-E Regulation was launched by the European Commission in December 2020, in order to align European energy infrastructures with the climate objectives of the European Green Pact. The Commission has proposed removing financial support for fossil fuel (fossil fuel and oil) infrastructure through PIC. Nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Romania, submitted in February 2021 a joint initiative for the financial support of gas infrastructure projects by 2030, which are already at an advanced stage of authorization or under construction, arguing that they contribute to the transition to climate neutrality.
On the other hand, a group of 11 Member States – Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden – oppose this initiative, stressing in a joint statement that in order to achieve the objectives climate change for 2030 and 2050, financial support for fossil fuel infrastructure projects must cease.
Representatives of more than 50 non-governmental environmental organizations in Central and Eastern Europe also signed a joint statement in support of the exclusion from funding for fossil fuel projects. With this statement, the NGOs called for an end to spending public money on the costly and already partially underused expansion of gas-based infrastructure, a fossil fuel with a major climate impact.
Five environmental organizations in Romania – Bankwatch, Greenpeace, 2Cesius, WWF and Declic – members of the Tomorrow is Decided platform today, joined this statement, explicitly asking the representatives of national authorities not to vote for the unjustified and inconsistent expansion of the infrastructure’s climate objectives. European fossil fuel.
“Romania has on its PIC list several projects to expand fossil gas infrastructure, incompatible with reducing the effects of climate change. Given that the energy system already generates 66% of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide, the new projects would make both Romania and the Member States with which our country has energy exchanges more dependent on fossil fuels. We ask the representatives of Romania at the meeting on June 11 to vote against the financial support of the fossil gas infrastructure in the revised TEN-E Regulation,” said Laura Nazare, coordinator of the energy transition campaign at Bankwatch Romania.
In January 2021, the European Commission published the list of candidate projects for the fifth list of Projects of Common Interest, which included 74 fossil gas infrastructure projects. Romania has registered 7 candidate projects, out of which the implementation of BRUA Phase 2 and Phase 3 projects, but also three projects regarding the increase of fossil gas storage capacity. Global Witness, which analyzed the projects funded in the fourth PIC list, considers Phase 1 BRUA a failed project by which the European Commission wasted citizens’ money. Projects of common interest have also recently come to the attention of the European Ombudsman, who criticized the European Commission in October 2020 for their superficial assessment of the level of greenhouse gas emissions they generate.
“Gas is the elephant in the room, which will keep us captive in a world of climate change with increasingly extreme and frequent weather phenomena. Let’s not forget that gas is a fossil fuel, whose main component – methane – is much more dangerous than carbon dioxide, because it is 80 times more efficient at retaining heat from the atmosphere. It is absurd to imagine that gas is the solution to achieving climate neutrality. Gas is a big part of the problem, and its financing must be stopped,” also said Vlad Cătună, coordinator of Greenpeace Romania campaigns.