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Environmentalists Challenge EU-Backed Gas Projects

Several environmental campaign groups said on Tuesday that they are challenging the European Union over its support for 30 natural gas projects under a directive earlier this year to consider certain gas projects as contributing to accelerating the energy transition.

The European Commission updated earlier this year its Taxonomy Complementary Climate Delegated Act on climate change mitigation and adaptation covering certain gas and nuclear activities. Under the new taxonomy, some gas projects, including several pipelines, were given a “sustainable investment” status. Gas projects are “transitional” if they contribute to the transition from coal to renewables, the EU says.  

The bloc is also accelerating its efforts to reduce dependence on Russian pipeline gas after Russia invaded Ukraine and, most recently, cut off the gas supply to several EU members that refused to pay in rubles.

However, the climate campaigners are having none of the “sustainable gas” projects and announced they are starting this week legal action against the European Commission for supporting 30 gas projects across Europe.

The EC has included those projects in a list known as ‘Projects of Common Interest’. Projects that make the list benefit from fast-tracked permits and EU funding.

Although the EU has accelerated its renewable energy targets, it aims to diversify its gas supplies and acknowledges that gas has a role to play in the transition.

But environmental groups Friends of the Earth Europe, ClientEarth, Food & Water Action Europe, and CEE Bankwatch Network say “the EU Commission has given these climate-destructive projects VIP status, in contradiction of its legal obligations.”

“This list amounts to a VIP pass for fossil gas in Europe, when we should be talking about its phase-out,” ClientEarth lawyer Guillermo Ramo said.

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The campaigners request the Commission to review within 22 weeks the decision to give the proposed gas projects priority status. If the Commission refuses to amend its decision, the organizations will be able to ask the Court of Justice of the EU to rule, the environmentalists said.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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