More than 100 civil society groups and figureheads have delivered a collective letter to Heads of State in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and to the European Commission.
In the letter, the signatories acknowledged that the fossil fuel energy crisis, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is directly affecting European households and workers, especially the most vulnerable and that the governments need to respond to this.
At the same time, they highlight that for the African continent, any new gas developments would exacerbate climate impacts in the region least responsible for the crisis, and the devastating impacts that gas extraction has on livelihoods, public health, human rights and biodiversity.
Don’t Gas Africa
The signatories stand in solidarity with their African allies who are demanding an end to gas on their continent through a campaign called ‘Don’t Gas Africa’.
They are particularly concerned that Europe’s dash for gas in the continent would undermine Africa’s development by locking it into fossil fuel conflicts and debt to cover export-oriented gas production and the costs of these stranded assets.
Investments in gas, they argue, also distracts from the greater priority to expand access to clean and reliable electricity for the more than 570 million people on the continent who lack access to energy.
‘Scholz wanted to be a climate chancellor, instead he has turned into a fossil chancellor. We are witnessing him pushing for more fossil extraction from African countries like Senegal. Our addiction to fossil fuels and exploitation of the African continent is the root cause of the climate and cost of living crisis. Instead of fuelling the fires, Scholz, Habeck and Lindner are asked to shift all investments towards renewables.’
‘This letter responds to efforts by European governments to not only secure new gas from the global market, but to proactively invest in new upstream and midstream gas infrastructure.
‘Germany in particular has led the push for this. In May 2022, Scholz visited Senegal to pursue new projects there In October 2022, Scholz’s chief of staff said Germany should finance exploration of gas fields, and Germany made attempts at the European Council to get EU states to support gas extraction.
‘In September, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, encouraged the Mozambique government to accelerate a gas programme which has led to the displacement of thousands and the fuelling of violent insurgency and conflict.’
Fridays for Future Germany
No new gas
The letter comes just as the International Energy Agency has released its 2022 World Energy Outlook report, which states ‘No one should imagine that Russia’s invasion [of Ukraine] can justify a wave of new oil and gas infrastructure in a world that wants to reach net zero emissions by 2050.’
The report aligns with previous findings that a net zero trajectory means no expansion of new gas or oil fields anywhere in the world, and that instead major investments in renewable energy are sorely needed.
It also comes amid growing civil society resistance on both continents to the expansion of European fossil fuel production.