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13th Aug 2022

Campaigners challenge €13bn proposed gas projects

  • Environmental lawyers argue the EU commission did not consider the impact of methane emissions from these gas infrastructure projects (Photo: Bilfinger SE)
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Campaigners launched legal action against the European Commission for including 30 gas projects in a list of priority energy infrastructure projects on Tuesday (7 June).

Under the so-called Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, all selected projects are eligible for public funds and fast-tracked permits. The list is updated every two years.

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But four environmental organisations have deemed the inclusion of dozens of proposed gas projects on the list — worth €13bn — as "unlawful" and in breach of the bloc's climate laws.

The list includes the controversial EastMed pipeline between Israel and Greece, the Baltic Pipe carrying Norwegian gas to Denmark and Poland, and the Cyprus2EU liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.

Many of the projects included under the fifth PCI list were also part of the previous list, which was criticised by the EU Ombudsman because climate risks were "not sufficiently taken into account".

Environmental lawyers believe that a PCI list which includes gas projects does not align with the EU's legal obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement and the treaties.

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

Ramo argued that the EU commission did not consider the impact of methane emissions deriving from these gas infrastructure projects.

The London-based NGO and other three organisations have started legal action, via a request for internal review.

Under the Aarhus regulation, NGOs have the right to ask EU institutions to assess their own decisions — with a right to appeal before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The commission must respond to such requests within 22 weeks.

Environmental lawyers have also threatened to take legal action against the inclusion of the new EU guidelines for sustainable energy investment — known as the EU taxonomy.

Under the REPowerEU plan, the EU has pledged to end imports of all Russian fossil gas by 2027.

But the phase-out of Russian gas is raising concerns over the alleged need to invest in new LNG infrastructure across the bloc.

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