Natural Gas Lock-In

Peter Polder, Tamra Gilbertson, Antonio Tricarico. September 2014

Current Politics in the European Union

Gas plays a major role in current efforts to implement new energy and climate policies in the European Union. Proponents claim it as an important, clean energy source needed as a ‘transition’ fuel, while social movements and communities increasingly organize against dangerous gas fracking techniques and increased gas flaring across the globe.

This paper was born out of a debate on gas during a series of meetings hosted by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels Office, in the context of its long-term project on energy in Europe in 2013. Three key points emerged in these discussions which have led to this publication:

1. The inherent contradictions between gas-related infrastructure expansion and plans for emission reductions. The authors examine the increasing ‘lock-in’ effect of massive infrastructure projects that enforce the continuing extraction of gas.

2. The European gas markets push for implementing a gas spot market which leads to a consolidation of the vision of gas as a commodity and its financialization.

3. The environmental and social movements struggle to increase awareness of the numerous negative impacts of current extraction techniques, while gas is publicly promoted as a clean transition fuel.

These contradictions are mere examples for the problems inherent to the current EU energy and climate policies. Instead of offering solutions for a clean energy deal, they perpetuate fossil fuel dependency. The EU lacks comprehensive measures leading to the important energy transformation that would leave fossil fuels underground.