Romania and seven other EU members have asked Brussels not to exclude natural gas projects from future funding under the next budget that the European Commission will announce on May 27 alongside a coronavirus Recovery Fund to mobilize investments in line with its climate goals.
The EU aims to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as part of the European Green Deal – thus excluding the gas from the energy mix.
The other members signing the appeal for using natural gas as a “transition fuel” until 2050 are all located in the central and eastern parts of the continent, where several major gas infrastructure projects are being developed. They are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia.
“It is of crucial importance to maintain EU support and financial assistance for the development of gas infrastructure,” they said in a discussion paper seen by Reuters.
A draft of the Commission’s green recovery plan, also seen by Reuters, only earmarks funding for natural gas projects that use carbon capture or repurpose gas infrastructure to carry low-carbon fuels such as hydrogen.
Campaigners against natural gas say gas infrastructure built today will stand for decades – locking in emissions beyond 2050 – and they argue that the countries should instead invest in renewables, energy storage, and smart grids.
“Not one cent should be used to support fossil fuels or fossil fuel infrastructure,” the Climate Action Network said.
Without gas, achieving climate neutrality will take longer and cost more for coal-heavy countries, an EU official from one country said, asking not to be named.