The European Parliament approved investments worth billions of Euros in gas infrastructure projects on Wednesday, drawing criticism from environmentalists for running counter to avowed EU climate goals.
A majority of EU lawmakers voted in favour of the European Commission’s so-called Projects of Common Interest, a list of cross-border infrastructure projects linking domestic energy systems in the EU.
The motion passed in spite of broad opposition from Green and far-left parliamentarians, who criticised any further investments in fossil fuels as harmful for the environment.
The list was put forward by the outgoing commission in late October.
Since then, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has taken over with an ambitious plan to slash carbon emissions.
“Under the new list, around 29 billion Euros (31.6 billion dollars) of taxpayer money is earmarked for 32 new gas projects.
“This a paradoxical contradiction with the bloc’s climate ambitions,’’ the European Green Party said in a statement.
The group cited the example of a Croatian terminal for U.S. liquefied natural gas, obtained by controversial fracking techniques, which has qualified for funding.
Esther Bollendorff of Climate Action Network, an environmental campaign group, called on the EU to change its project selection rules.
“While gas is often claimed to be a transition fuel, it is a polluting energy source that undermines EU’s climate commitments,’’ Bollendorff said.
Report says gas generates less carbon dioxide than coal and is seen as many as a viable way of transitioning towards low-emission energy sources.
Opponents argue, however, that the projects being set up now will pave the way for decades of use, running counter to EU efforts to eliminate all net carbon emissions by 2050.