This piece was originally published by Corporate Europe Observatory. Ceo is a member of the Fossil Free Politics campaign.
The EU’s 300 billion euro response to the growing energy crisis presented by the Commission today, which emphasized ‘eye-blinding ambitions’ for energy efficiency and investments in renewable energy production, should not distract from the fact that the fossil fuel energy companies managed to get their future business secured as well. The announced EU Energy Platform for joint purchases of gas, LNG and hydrogen, which will also identify new gas infrastructure needs, was revealed by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) to be advised by the gas industry, a huge conflict of interest. 10 billion euros have been dedicated to “missing links on gas and LNG”.
CEO obtained recent meeting documents from the European Commission (EC) that reveal that CEOs of six big energy companies – Shell, BP, Total, ENI, E.ON and Vattenfall – met President Von der Leyen and Energy Commissioner Simson the day they released the first RePowerEU communiqué and agreed to set up an industry Task Force and determine which measures were “feasible”.
The meeting, which took place on 23 March, was the latest in a long line between the European Roundtable of Industry (ERT) and its CEO-level members with President Von der Leyen since the invasion of Ukraine. This means the EU’s plans to get off Russian gas are being shaped by the very same companies that have kept the continent hooked on it until now.
RePowerEU also emphasized the importance of hydrogen for replacing Russian gas, particularly by importing it. According to recent research and analysis by lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), RePowerEU sees the gas industry securing big EU subsidies for producing hydrogen outside of the EU via a ‘Global European Hydrogen Facility’. New gas infrastructure is also being justified on the grounds it will be ‘hydrogen-ready’ if/when the EU shifts from gas to hydrogen, which is what the gas industry has been long demanding
On the eve of RePowerEU, CEO and Transnational Institute (TNI) launched a new report which found that the EU’s plan to drastically increase the use of renewable hydrogen (H2) is not realistic, and will hurt North African countries' economy.
The study - which focuses on Morocco, Algeria and Egypt, as the majority of H2 imports will come from the Southern Mediterranean - estimates that production costs will make renewable hydrogen up to 11 times more expensive than natural gas (before transport costs are factored in).
These vast costs make for unrealistic targets that are being used by Big Oil and Gas to sneak hydrogen from natural gas through the back door. This means they can keep drilling and selling their main product, and thus leading to runaway climate change, according to the latest IPCC report.
Pascoe Sabido, Researcher and Campaigner at the Corporate Europe Observatory, said:
“The EU plans for getting off Russian gas look very similar to the demands made by fossil fuel CEOs when they met with President Von der Leyen. Despite all the talk of renewable energy, another €10 billion is going on new pipelines and LNG terminals when it should be spent on insulating the homes of the energy poor.
The EU’s push for importing renewable hydrogen should also be a big concern to countries in the global South. They are coming under increasing pressure to use their renewable energy for hydrogen to meet European climate goals, rather than meet their own clean development needs.”
Chloe Mikolajczak coordinator of the Fossil Free Politics Campaign said:
"The RepowerEU strategy has the gas industry's fingerprints all over it. This is not surprising considering the Commission has been meeting with CEOs of gas company ahead of its release and agreed to set up an industry task force to determine feasible measures. It's going to be an important part of the EU Energy Platform. If the EU is serious about reducing its dependency on fossil gas, and not just Russian gas, it should stop taking advice from the fossil fuel industry."
For more information or interview requests:
Pascoe Sabido: email@example.com - +44 7969 665 189
Chloe Mikolajczak: firstname.lastname@example.org - +32 4220.127.116.11
Notes to editors: