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22nd Feb 2020

Gas sector spends €100 million annually on lobbying EU

  • Gas lobbyists met with European Commission vice-president for energy union Maros Sefcovic (r) and climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete more than 460 times

The gas industry and its backers spent over €100 million in lobbying activities in Brussels in 2016, according to a new report by Corporate Europe Observatory, published on Tuesday (31 October).

The sector employs at least 1,000 lobbyists, and secured hundreds of meetings with the two EU commissioners with climate and energy in their portfolios.

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  • Gas 'potentially has a bigger carbon footprint than oil and even coal' (Photo: Nord Stream)

According to the report, gas lobbyists met with European Commission vice-president for energy union Maros Sefcovic and climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete more than 460 times between November 2014 and August 2017 – on average three meetings a week.

"The EU has proven highly responsive to pressure from industry and member states, providing policies that give gas significant legislative, political, and financial support," said the report.

Corporate Europe Observatory is a Brussels-based civil society lobby group, with a focus on transparency and lobbying.

It said in its report that its estimates were probably on the low-end, because many companies and organisations lobbying on gas are not on the radar.

The EU's lobby register is not mandatory and contains self-reported data that is not independently double-checked.

"Without a legally-binding and fully-enforced transparency register that ensures accurate and detailed declarations of lobby spending and activities, it is impossible to be fully precise about the true firepower of the gas lobby," the report said.

The NGO also criticised the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSO-G), an organisation created by the EU in 2009.

It said that ENTSO-G representatives had tried to influence EU lawmaking through members of the European Parliament.

The organisation is also involved in the selection of so-called Projects of Common Interests, or PCIs.

Once categorised as PCI, an infrastructure project will receive easier treatment to get permits, and is eligible for EU funds.

Corporate Europe Observatory said that ENTSO-G is biased towards the gas industry.

The group also criticised the EU for going along with the gas lobby's narrative, which states that "gas is clean, gas is the natural partner of renewables, and gas offers a transition to a decarbonised world".

But while gas does emit less CO2 than coal or oil, the fossil fuel "potentially has a bigger carbon footprint than oil and even coal", the report said, because of methane leaks.

Methane is a greenhouse gas many times more dangerous than CO2 because it traps much more heat.

EU still giving gas projects 'fast-track' status

The European Commission published on Friday a list of projects of common interest, which receive preferential treatment. Environmental lobbyists accuse the Commission of trying to fool the public with number games.

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