Winter gas plan needs to mark permanent exit from fossil fuels and energy poverty
2 min read

Winter gas plan needs to mark permanent exit from fossil fuels and energy poverty

The EU’s strategy to reduce Europe’s gas demand – dubbed, Save Gas for a Safe Winter – in order to prepare for a full gas cut-off by Russia, offers inadequate comfort to people who already cannot afford rising energy bills, and locks us into more climate and health wrecking fossil fuels.

The European Commission today released an emergency plan for Member States to prepare themselves for further cut-offs from Russia by slashing their gas use. Despite the Commission’s call for solidarity from Member States, it doesn’t address the needs of millions of Europeans who will be faced with outrageously high energy bills this winter.

Kieran Pradeep, climate & energy justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe commented:

We welcome the emphasis on solidarity and protected customers, but this side-steps the fact that there are too many people right now who aren’t being protected at all. Where is the solidarity for the  tens of millions of Europeans who are already facing their own energy crisis at risk of disconnection, rising debts and unpayable energy bills? EU decision makers and Member States must act quickly and equitably to develop an energy poverty action plan that truly protects all.

The EUs’ contingency plan could have been a step forwards in breaking Europe’s addiction to fossil fuels but instead takes a step backwards by suggesting Member States should focus on ‘temporary’ measures such as coal, leading to increased air pollution and possibly compromising decarbonisation objectives and the energy transition.

With large parts of Europe experiencing wildfires and record temperatures, it’s clear the climate emergency is upon us and we need the EU to urgently step into action. The new proposal to get Europe through the winter without Russian gas misses the opportunity to match emergency action with future plans in order to deliver long term energy security.

Colin Roche, climate justice and energy coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe commented:

“As fires sweep across Europe and the climate crisis hits home, the Commission is calling for member states to identify where to save gas while we urgently need a plan to eliminate fossil gas. The longer we burn fossil fuels, the more extreme our weather will become and the more people in Europe and around the world will suffer. We need to be rolling out genuinely clean, resilient and just energy systems now that can keep people warm without costing the earth, or their livelihoods.This winter should be the start of a plan to permanently turn off the tap on fossil gas.”

Beyond this, we need to see a plan that will avoid a third winter energy crisis.  The temporary reduction in gas consumption, must be accompanied by a plan to decommission fossil fuel infrastructure in favour of accelerating the rollout of renewables and subsidised home renovations.

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