• The Last Winter of Gas in Europe

  • 07 Apr 23 Posted under: Democracy , Ecology , Productive Transformation
  • We should not stand idly by as governments across the political spectrum repeatedly choose the path of collapse and ongoing social and economic crises to save the fossil fuel industry.

    More than 80 signatories from over 30 countries around the world have endorsed Common Dreams' call to end massive oil and gas projects in Europe. transform! europe supports the call and publishes the full article here:

    Hundreds of activists blocked the European Gas Conference in Vienna at the end of March to prevent further climate chaos and poverty. While behind closed doors oil and gas executives have been working hand in hand with top government officials to protect shareholder investments and maintain the suicidal path to climate chaos, several hundred peacefully demonstrating activists from across Europe and Africa have been met with disproportionate brutality by a massive police force. The actions of the police once again showed that the government is more interested in protecting the fossil fuel system and its profiteers than in taking the urgency of the current crises seriously. The repression and criminalisation are an attempt to end our protests for a socially and ecologically just world and against fossil fuel destruction. But we should not be intimidated by this - we need to stand up to profit and power everywhere, in particular to fossil capital. We call on all movements and organisations to resist the power of the fossil fuel economy.

    To end the cost of living crisis and avert climate chaos, we must guarantee a rapid phase-out of fossil gas in Europe and build a new energy system for the people and the planet. Next winter must be the last gas winter in Europe.

    The spike in energy prices that started in autumn 2021 as Covid lockdowns began to ease kicked off the spiral of inflation we are still living through. Today’s cost of living crisis has been provoked by a fossil fuel sector that has made record-breaking profits as a result. Last year Saudi Aramco announced $161.1 billion in profit, ExxonMobil $59 billion, Shell $40 billion, and TotalEnergies $36 billion, to name just a few.

    These obscene profits have led to massive inflation across a global economy deliberately made dependent on fossil fuels, in particular on fossil gas. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), fossil gas alone is responsible for more than 50% of the rise in average costs of electricity generation. Add to this corporations opportunistically increasing their prices under the guise of inflation and you have the cost of living crisis: massive price increases in food, transport, essential goods, housing, in short, in everything.

    Last year we lived through the hottest summer in Europe in the last 500 years, the biggest drought in the history of China, and floods that devastated a third of the territory of Pakistan, killing thousands and affecting 33 million people. That is the level of climate, environmental and social destruction we are already living through today.

    The invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022 guaranteed free rein for hoarding and speculating. The forces behind the crises already in motion were unleashed. The partial shutdown of the gas flow from Russia to the European Union was used by the fossil fuel industry to push back on the already-meagre advances made in emissions reduction targets. Once-defeated gas infrastructure projects were revived, new LNG ports built, camouflaged ‘hydrogen-ready’ pipelines approved, all extending the profitability of the sector for decades to come. Energy diversification in Europe meant changing gas supplies from Russia to the United States, to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, and pushing forward with catastrophic projects such as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) or LNG from Mozambique's Rovuma Basin, also fuelling the expansion of fracking in a new round of reinforcing monopolies, neocolonialism and the devastation of communities.

    The energy and subsequent cost of living crisis have been used to revive the fossil fuel industry, fully paid for by the peoples of this world under the strangle-hold of fossil capital and its monopolies. The crisis has been further aggravated by central banks choosing to increase interest rates, meaning more people evicted from their homes, more foreclosures, bankruptcies, and unemployment. All investment currently made into fossil fuels guarantees continued dependency, a continued cost of living crisis and an increasingly catastrophic climate crisis.

    We are only at the beginning of our troubles, as crises multiply and intensify, with possible contagion to the financial sector. The decisions made by governments and central banks, of expanding gas infrastructure and increasing interest rates are not any sort of lesser evil, they are the root of evil. Fossil fuel companies are making such eye-watering profits because governments have refused to use their political power, instead handing it over to fossil gas CEOs. The cost of living crisis, like the climate crisis, is unsolvable if fossil fuel dependence doesn’t end. We are not in the same situation as ten years ago, we don’t have time to be once again fighting against new massive Oil & Gas projects worldwide: we must end this industry this decade.

    In order to stop the cost of living crisis and avoid climate chaos, we need the fast phase out of fossil gas, quickly followed by oil and coal. We need the Last Winter of Gas in Europe to happen in 2023-2024. When we reach the end of this decade, we need to be looking back at fossil gas as a distant memory.

    There will be technical difficulties, as today’s system is based on an addiction to fossil fuels, but this is first and foremost a political question. We will not sit idle while governments across the political spectrum repeatedly choose the path of collapse and continuous social and economic crises in order to save the fossil fuels industry. We call on all movements and organisations to push back against the forces of chaos and usher in the Last Winter of Gas.

    The article was originally published on the website of Common Dreams, an independent non-profit news outlet.

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