The European Parliament is set to prolong fossil gas subsidies until almost the end of the decade, locking in climate-wrecking emissions and exposing energy bills to more price volatility, Greenpeace has warned.
Today the Industry and Energy Committee of the European Parliament (ITRE) will vote on its position on the revision of energy infrastructure across the EU, the Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) Regulation.
The deal currently on the table would allow fossil gas companies to receive funding for infrastructure until 2027, including major new infrastructures like pipelines and terminals. Companies will be able to access funding merely by promising that such networks will be converted to transport 100% hydrogen by the end of 2029. In practice, this means that these pipelines could still carry fossil gas or gas blended with even a marginal percentage of hydrogen.
Greenpeace EU climate & energy campaigner Silvia Pastorelli said: “The current energy crisis is being driven by volatile fossil gas prices, and the transition to cheap renewable technologies cannot come quickly enough for households or the climate. A promised distant future switch to hydrogen will do nothing for emissions in this crucial decade, except undermine Europe’s climate targets. MEPs should have listened to the International Energy Agency: Europe no longer needs investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure.”
While fossil gas would no longer be eligible for funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a fund, the text set to be adopted today would also preserve fossil gas infrastructure’s eligibility to be designated as Projects of Common Interests (PCIs).
Projects with PCI status enjoy a number of benefits, such as faster permitting procedures, and the status could facilitate their access to other sources of funding, like state aid. The eligibility is restricted to the current PCI list, the fourth, and the next list, the fifth. The fifth PCI list is expected to be voted on in Q4 2021 and will last for two years.
The MEPs’ continued support for gas comes despite the advice from the International Energy Agency in May 2021 that there is no need for further investment in fossil fuel infrastructure if global temperature rise is to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, as agreed at the 2015 Paris climate conference.