Fossil gas subsidies within EU Just Transition Fund set to lock-in emissions

Published by Kayle Crosson on

16 September 2020 

The allowance for fossil gas subsidies within the EU’s Just Transition Fund will lock-in polluting emissions over the coming decades, a coalition of European NGOs has warned. 

The European Parliament voted to allow the inclusion yesterday and Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe stressed that it is not in line with earlier statements from the electoral body. 

The Parliament has previously called for the phase out of fossil fuel subsidies.

In January, within its resolution on a European Green Deal, the European Parliament said it “insists on a rapid phase-out of direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies by 2020” across the EU and for each of the 27 Member States. 

Just last week the European Parliament’s Environment Committee endorsed a greenhouse emissions reduction target of 60 per cent for the bloc by the end of the decade.

The move shows that the Parliament “is clearly two-faced on climate action”, Markus Trilling of CAN Europe said. 

Investments in fossil gas will lock-in further emissions and make it more difficult for carbon-intensive regions to become climate neutral, Mr. Trilling warned. 

“Fossil gas is an economic dead-end in this time of economic crisis, as renewables and building renovation provide three times more jobs than any fossil fuel. 

Today’s vote is a triple loss for people, the economy and the climate,” he added. 

Irish MEPs 

MEPs Barry Andrews and Billy Kelleher, Irish members of both Fianna Fáil and Renew Europe in the European Parliament, voted in favour of including gas in the Just Transition Fund. 

The move, Stop Climate Chaos policy advisor Sadhbh O’Neill noted on Twitter, goes “against the Irish government’s policy which Fianna Fáil is supposed to support”. 

Fianna Fail is also a part of the current coalition government, alongside Fine Gael and the Green Party, and has committed to taking the controversial Shannon Liquiefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal off the EU’s Projects of Common Interest List in 2021. 

The development of the terminal “does not make sense” as the State moves towards “carbon neutrality”, according to the Programme for Government

The problem with fossil gas

While its use has a lower carbon dioxide output than other fossil fuels, fossil gas production presents significant climate issues. 

Methane leaks out through its supply chain. The potent greenhouse gas is estimated to have a warming effect 84 to 87 times greater than that of carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in order for the world to maintain a two-in-three chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 C, the use of gas by 2030 must fall by 20 to 25 per cent relative to 2010 levels, and by mid-century must decline by 53 per cent to 74 per cent. 

However, a 2019 report by the UN Environmental Programme and several NGOs found that the global economy was on course to produce 70 per cent more gas by the end of the decade that would be consistent with a 1.5 C warming scenario.

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