European Companies’ Fossil Gas Advocacy Threatens Energy Transition in Europe and Africa

BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies found to be leading a multi-pronged influencing campaign that could lock in fossil gas across both continents, with push back coming from more renewables-focused European energy players.

August 24 2023

New InfluenceMap research maps the European LNG sector’s advocacy since 2021 across an entire value chain, starting with exploration and transportation of fossil fuels in Africa, to the end use of fossil gas in Europe.

Three clear phases of this advocacy are identified:

  1. Promoting gas exploration and LNG infrastructure in Africa,
  2. Advocating for LNG imports and infrastructure in Europe, and
  3. Lobbying against EU policies designed to reduce fossil gas use, including the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and Energy Efficiency Directive.

At the same time, several companies with assets in Africa have lobbied against the application of EU standards on methane emissions - a powerful greenhouse gas with a warming effect 86 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period - to fossil gas imports.

The research covered 15 European companies, including BP, E.ON, Enagás, Enel, Engie, Eni, Equinor, Fluxys, GALP, Gasunie, PGNiG, RWE, Shell, Snam and TotalEnergies.

Companies were selected using data from Global Energy Monitor, as each company has newly proposed and in-construction LNG infrastructure in either Africa, specifically in Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Tanzania, or in the EU specifically in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, and Spain.

Key findings from the report include:

  • 13 of the 15 companies have advocated for new investments in fossil gas since 2021 and/or lobbied to weaken European climate legislation aimed at reducing the EU’s fossil gas demand. This is despite all 13 companies publicly stating support for net zero by 2050 targets.
  • BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies were found to be involved in all three stages of this international lobbying effort outlined above.
  • Only E.ON and Enel were identified as having focused advocacy efforts on a scale-up of renewable energies and a phase-out of fossil fuels, also adopting positive positions on European climate legislation.
  • Eni, Engie and Snam were identified not supporting measures in the EU Methane Regulation to tackle methane emissions from imported fossil fuels.

Concerted, pro-fossil gas advocacy stands in contrast to advice highlighted by UN’s climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on the need to phase-out fossil fuels to align with 1.5°C aligned policy pathways.

The IPCC has also indicated the negative economic implications for developing countries from the lock-in of fossil fuels revenue streams and stranded assets, as the energy transition creates lower demand for fossil fuels.

The findings of this research reflect previous InfluenceMap analysis of sector strategy documents which showed how the fossil gas industry considers growing climate change concern an “existential” threat to its interests.

The same documents reveal how the industry has intentionally developed regionally specific communication strategies to help promote fossil fuels, for example by promoting gas as a tool for sustainable development in Global South.

InfluenceMap Senior Analyst Vivek Parekh said: “The research highlights the global reach of the European oil and gas sector’s advocacy, which have been particularly significant in the context of key geopolitical events.”

“In the face of the war in Ukraine, and subsequent push to replace Russian fossil fuels in Europe, the industry has sought to weaken European climate policy designed to reduce the bloc’s gas demand, while at the same time pushing for new fossil gas development and LNG infrastructure across Europe and Africa.”

“This push has seemingly overwhelmed more nascent industry advocacy for renewable energy in Africa and, alongside slow progress on international climate finance obligations, possess a significant risk to the region’s energy transition and opportunities for long-term sustainable development.”

"In Europe, E.ON and Enel's resolute pro-renewables stance, despite involvement in LNG projects, suggests a nuanced approach that is aligned with the EU Commission's response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, aiming to diminish the role of fossil gas in the energy mix."

In responding to the report, Jutta Paulus MEP (Greens / EFA) - Rapporteur for the EU Methane Regulation said: “Reducing methane emissions is indispensable for reaching EU's climate goals and reducing our dependency on fossil fuel imports."

"Without tackling imports, the EU Methane Regulation would have a limited effect, as 90% of our oil and gas is imported. Therefore, the European Parliament calls for the extension of measures to imports, because most methane emissions occur outside the EU.”

Emerging Markets Investors Alliance’s Director of Extractive Industries Program, Pavel Laberko, said: "At a time when it is critical for new energy investments to be aligned with the transition to net-zero emissions, InfluenceMap's tools and analysis help to bring to light European energy firms' lobbying efforts that slow down climate change mitigation. As such, the report helps to take stock and change course where operations on the ground and policy advocacy deviate from publicly stated commitments to a low-carbon world. We encourage energy corporations from Europe and other regions to continue mitigating climate change by aligning all actions accordingly, from marketing to advocacy and operations."

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Media Contact:
For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Vivek Parekh, Senior Analyst, InfluenceMap (London) E:

Ritwiza Asthana, Communications Manager (London) T: +44 (0) 7592 505 891 E: