An EU parliamentary committee today appears set to greenlight pro-gas loopholes in the bloc’s energy infrastructure policy following industry lobbying.
The move comes despite the EU Parliament voting in 2020 to revise the policy – known as TEN-E regulation - in line with the European Green Deal. The committee’s backing of gas also appears at odds with the IEA’s analysis that no new fossil gas reserves should be developed globally in order to achieve 1.5C.
The Industry and Energy Committee’s amendments to the policy would allow a number of significant changes, including:
• Continued funding for infrastructure carrying a blend of gases up to 2027 on the condition it carries only hydrogen by the end of 2029.
• Continued Projects of Common Interest (PCI) status for fossil gas, which allows for quicker approval processes and easier access to some private funding sources.
Key MEPs within the committee leading on TEN-E for their respective parties met 24 times with gas industry lobbyists in 2021 to discuss the policy. Notably, the lead MEP, Rapporteur Zdzisław Krasnodębski of the European Conservatives and Reformists, did not disclose meetings but has been found to have close ties to the gas industry.
The gas industry lobby, representing companies including Gazprom, Engie, RWE, SNAM and Uniper, have been arguing for these loopholes over the past year.
Gazprom met EU Commissioner Kadri Simpson’s Cabinet in January 2021 to discuss “Gazprom’s views on the role of gas”, and reportedly argued later that month that it was impossible to ensure the security of Europe’s energy system without fossil gas.
An analysis of gas industry positions on TEN-E tracked by InfluenceMap shows how similar they are to the parliamentary committee’s amendments:
• Hydrogen Europe advocated for the TEN-E regulation to expand PCI status to renewable and low-carbon gases, without being clear about the source or the extent to which carbon capture and storage (CCS) would be used. The association also promoted hydrogen blending with fossil gas as a “stepping stone” to dedicated hydrogen infrastructure.
• Gas Infrastructure Europe advocated for retaining PCI status for existing fossil gas projects, while calling for the revision to consider the long-term role of fossil gas across different regions and sectors in Europe that “as a step to full decarbonization need to switch to fossil gas as from energy intensive fuels”.
• A French gas company GRTgaz, a subsidiary of Engie, advocated for fossil gas infrastructure projects to be granted PCI status if they facilitated the integration of low-carbon gases.
InfluenceMap’s Gas Analyst Vivek Parekh said: “Europe needs a science-based Green Deal, not lobby-based loopholes.
“These positions have been a clear focus of gas industry lobbying efforts and appear to have found a receptive audience within the European Parliament.
“This is a worrying sign for the EU’s Fit for 55 Package as it passes to the Parliament for negotiations.”
For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Simon Cullen, Communications Manager, InfluenceMap (London)
E: simon.cullen ( @ ) influencemap.org