Further investments in new gas projects and supply routes will not save us from the energy crisis, but will doom us to a climate catastrophe which will be difficult to get out of.
This was the message from FoE Croatia activists who interrupted the opening of the 37th International Scientific and Expert Meeting of Gas Professionals in Opatija with whistles and banners. “So called climate destruction experts met in Opatija today, who are using the current geopolitical turmoil to continue and even expand the harmful gas business”, Marija Mileta from FoE Croatia said.
FoE Croatia decided to respond to this conference to point to the urgent need to move away from all fossil fuels, including gas, rather than further promoting them. “This gas conference only serves for ‘selling’ gas, especially LNG, as a clean and long-term source of energy”, Mileta commented, adding: “But this cannot be further from the truth because gas, overtaking coal, has become the second largest source of carbon emissions in Europe”.
The construction of new gas pipelines and LNG infrastructure, which will become operational in a few years, will deepen Europe's dependence on fossil fuels and an unstable global gas market in the long run, and will not solve the current crisis. Some companies are already advocating contracts for new LNG terminals for 15, 20 and more years, while LNG is still much more expensive than gas from pipelines. “This will mean locking in long-term fossil fuel projects, high prices and incompatibility with climate goals for a faster greenhouse gas emissions reduction within this decade”, Mileta explained.
Stopping the use of Russian gas is a necessary and urgent step to help end the war in Ukraine by reducing revenues for Putin's war machine. But instead of replacing fossil fuel imports from Russia with imports from other countries, we must give priority to a rapid transition and a move away from consuming all fossil fuels. “At the action, we had banners with the message “The gas business is a crime” because in addition to deepening the climate crisis, it fuels conflicts around the world”, Mileta said.
Europe's main response to the gas crisis in 2006 and 2009 was a policy of diversification of supply. But this policy has failed because the share of Russian gas imports has been growing steadily since 2013. “In 2021 alone, the EU paid 120 billion euros for imported gas. Every euro spent on gas means less euro to switch to renewable energy sources. Europe, including Croatia, needs an urgent plan to reduce gas consumption before next winter, not to further develop and supply gas from non-Russian sources”, Mileta said.
This plan should include subsidised and rapid energy renovation of buildings in order to achieve the fastest reduction in gas demand. Also, it is necessary to accelerate the replacement of gas boilers with renewable heating solutions such as heat pumps and stop investing in the expansion of gas infrastructure such as the LNG terminal on Krk Island. In addition to measures that can help maximise energy savings, faster development of renewable energy sources, especially solar and wind, is needed, while ensuring high environmental standards.
Due to the climate crisis, we not only desperately need transition, but it is inevitable. This means that total gas demand in the EU must fall. “If we build all this new gas infrastructure, we will be doomed to high gas prices in the long run. We will pay for a huge infrastructure that will be much more expensive to maintain, while the demand for gas will fall”, Mileta concluded and added: “Now is the time for smart decisions that are not guided by political interests, go beyond one government mandate and serve the people, not the gas business”.
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