Fossil fuel lock-in: why gas is a false solution

The oil and gas industry as well as the European Commission currently advertise gas as a "climate friendly" or "low-carbon" fossil fuel and a "partner for renewables".

But while it is claimed that gas has a smaller carbon footprint than coal or oil, gas is in fact responsible for large quantities of greenhouse gas emissions. Not only is it still a polluting fossil fuel, but the methane released in the production and use of natural gas is – in the long term – more than 80 times worse for the climate than CO2. Furthermore, evidence shows that gas is competing with and displacing renewable energy projects. Rather than being climate-friendly, gas is another industry-promoted false solution, leading to a climate dead-end.

Last December's climate conference in Paris agreed to "pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees", and while certainly vague and non-binding, actually achieving this would mean leaving 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Nevertheless, worldwide, large exploration missions are going on, and gas exploitation and gas trading is expected to rise. And Europe is a driving force in this rush for gas.

Currently more than half of the natural gas used in the EU is imported from Norway, Russia, Qatar, Nigeria, and the Maghreb states Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. For the future, the EU plans to import natural gas from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, the US, and from Iran. Oil and natural gas exploitation are often connected to human rights violations and environmental damage. A change of the energy policy in the North could change developments in the Global South, and there is a responsibility of the European Union to consider this.

The EU energy security package from February 2016 gives way to large investments in LNG and gas infrastructure and to a future rise of natural gas imports – despite a continued decrease of gas use in Europe. The gas pipeline “Southern Gas Corridor” – a flagship project to bring gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe championed by some of the biggest oil and gas corporations – is largely supported by European institutions and its realisation is accelerating.

In whose interest is the current rush for gas in the EU? What happens in the natural gas producer’s countries, what are the conditions of exploitation? What are the prospects of growth of natural gas exploitation? How can we as civil society collectively challenge this gas agenda and debunk myths around it? What can we do to show that gas development is counterproductive for the energy transition in Europe and worldwide and coordinate better against a new fossil fuel lock-in (after oil and coal)? How can we strengthen our alternatives and "energy democracy"?

Read the full conference report.


•    De-legitimise gas as a transition fuel;
•    Learn about consequences of the fossil fuel lock-in for environment, climate, human rights, and economy
•    Learn about EU gas politics and experience with resistance
•    Build campaigning capacity to fight gas and strengthen cooperation
•    Share knowledge about alternatives and "energy democracy".

Materials for download:

Full programme

The private concentration of the renewable sector in Morocco and critique of the Moroccan Solar Plan (Lucile Daumas, Attac Morocco)
Gas consumption in the EU: How much gas infrastructure does the EU actually need? (Manon Dufour, E3G, Brussels)
Natural Gas, methane, and climate change after COP21 (Robert Howarth, Cornell University, New York, Board of Directors for Food & Water Watch)
Where does our gas come from? Geopolitics of gas, growing gas exploitation worldwide, gas pipelines and LNG - terminals (Alfons Perez, ODG, Spain)
Energy Union and EU gas strategy: What is happening now and who is behind this plan? (Antoine Simon, Friends of the Earth Europe)
Industry narratives on fossil gas (Laura Weis, PowerShift e.V. Berlin)

Video: Resisting fossil fuels – A winning movement worldwide

Target group:
Energy and climate campaigners and activists

English, Spanish, French (Arabic)

In cooperation with:
Corporate Europe Observatory
Counter Balance
Friends of the Earth Europe
Food and Water Europe
PowerShift e.V. Berlin
War on Want

Marlis Gensler, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Brussels Office, marlis.gensler(at)rosalux(dot)org