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27th Feb 2024

EU's appetite for gas drives €205bn in new investments

  • EU is reliant on overseas gas imports to replace Russian gas (Photo: Unsplash)
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Europe's hunger for gas is driving €205bn in new investments to supply the bloc in the next decade, according to NGO Global Witness analysis based on Rystad Energy data.

Oil-giants Shell, TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, Equinor and Italian fossil-fuel giant Eni are topping the list of spenders with a combined total of €132bn in the next decade.

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Annual expenditure by the top 20 companies producing gas for Europe is set to rise by 75 percent, from €55bn in 2024 to €97bn in 2033 — despite climate groups and energy experts' warnings that any new fossil-fuel production will push the world beyond its agreed 1.5 Celsius temperature-rise ceiling.

"The numbers are stark — Europe is hurtling down a dangerous path by doubling down on fossil gas," said Dominic Eagleton, a senior fossil fuel campaigner at Global Witness.

On 6 February, the European Commission is due to unveil its proposals for a target to cut the EU's emissions by 90 percent by 2040, which will require large cuts in gas consumption.

The International Energy Agency, for example, includes no new fossil-fuel investments in its 1.5 degrees warming scenario. But Europe's consumption is on track to grow by three percent this year.

And individual countries, including the Netherlands, have signed deals in recent months that will lock in gas until 2050.

Burning the fossil gas alone from forecast production for Europe would emit 6.6bn tonnes of carbon dioxide between now and 2033 — equivalent to 23 years' worth of France's carbon emissions, the report says.

Industry figures often point out that gas, when burned, produces less carbon dioxide than coal or oil.

But its impacts are often underestimated due to unaccounted for methane leakages during extraction, which in some cases can mean the climate impact of gas is worse than other fossil fuels.

Methane is the world's second most-damaging greenhouse gas — with more than 80 times the potency of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period — and is responsible for approximately one-third of the global warming experienced to date.

To counter the risk of unseen global warming, the first-ever methane pledge was agreed at the UN climate summit hosted in Glasgow in 2021.

According to the latest 2023 IEA emission report tracker, methane emissions were still rising in 2022 putting at risk climate pledges.

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