Through the revised Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) legislation, the European Commission proposes to pursue subsidising fossil gas related infrastructure late into the 2020s, despite the science-based need to move away from all fossil fuels in the next ten to fifteen years.
The TEN-E regulation should foster a climate-proof energy system based on the “energy efficiency first” principle and 100% renewable energy, expanding its scope far beyond transmission infrastructure. Even though direct EU funding for fossil gas pipelines has been removed, the proposed rules still include gas related infrastructure categories, on hydrogen and so called “smart gas grids”. None of them rules out fossil gas explicitly and definitively.
“The myth of fossil gas being a transition fuel or a bridging fuel prevents the EU from ensuring policy coherence with its climate neutrality objective. Allowing fossil gas, dressed up as low-carbon hydrogen, to be part of the energy transition is like falling in a dangerous, dirty and expensive pipe-trap which will require another imminent transition at citizens’ expense,” said Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Gas Policy Coordinator, Esther Bollendorff.
The European Commission itself and the International Energy Agency have successively scaled down gas demand projections for 2030 and according to Paris Agreement-compatible energy scenarios, Europe needs to phase out fossil gas by 2035.
A recently released report shows that massive investments in electricity infrastructure are needed, while no additional funds should go to fossil gas infrastructure . Using fossil gas emits both CO2 and methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, and thus contributes to climate pollution, meaning it has no place on any of the different possible paths to climate neutrality.
“Let’s stop beating around the bush and opt for the most straightforward energy transition to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. The Commission needs to consistently direct all EU public funding sources to energy efficiency and electrification with renewables only.
Even the need for renewable hydrogen for some very specific and hard to abate sectors, does not justify investments in building the gas industry’s proposed “EU wide hydrogen network”  , as this would only deepen the gas lock in effect.
Let’s use further discussions in the European Parliament and in the Council to fix and clean TEN-E from all fossil-gas,” added Bollendorff.
Note to editors:
The “TEN-E” rules define which cross-border energy infrastructure projects can be labelled “Projects of Common Interest” (PCI), meaning they can receive EU funding and fast-tracked environmental impact assessments.
For the past seven years, Brussels has funded and fast-tracked cross-border fossil gas projects up to 1,5bn€ without sufficiently weighing the environmental risks, according to a final decision issued in November 2020 by the European Ombudsman. Projects receiving PCI status are eligible for EU funding from Connecting Europe Facility funding instrument.
Current TEN-E guidelines were defined in 2013 with market integration and security of supply as the ultimate goal. That approach is no longer in line with the 2030 and 2050 decarbonisation goals.
EU leaders agreed last week to raise the EU’s climate ambition to 55% emission reductions while allowing “transitional technologies such as gas” to achieve the increased 2030 target.
FOR MORE INFO ON TEN-E, PLEASE CHECK THIS BACKGROUND PAPER.
 European Hydrogen Backbone, Gas for Climate, July 2020 European Hydrogen Backbone – Gas for Climate 2050
Cristina Dascalu, communication coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, +32 465 40 80 54