Declared lobbyists: 1.5 FTE
Lobby spend: €350,000 (2016)
GasNaturally is a super trade association made up of six European and international gas lobby groups: International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP), Eurogas, European Gas Research Group (GERG), Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), International Gas Union (IGU) and Marcogaz. Its members deal with aspects of the exploration, research, storage, retail sale, and distribution of natural gas. Eurogas, for example, represents 43 companies and associations from 24 countries all working in the European gas sector.
The association’s lobbying strategy is to position natural gas, a fossil fuel, as a key ‘transition fuel’ and solution for climate change – it includes highly polluting shale gas (extracted by fracking) as well as conventional gas in this vision (see box on the following page). The group organises a ‘fun’ annual Gas Week which includes a cocktail party for MEP assistants with an energy and climate- themed quiz and prizes…
GAS: Hot air or climate-friendly fossil fuel?
Together with the Commission, the oil and gas industry is engaged in an extensive campaign to promote gas as a ‘climate friendly’ or ‘low-carbon’ fossil fuel that was originally sold as a ‘bridge’ to a renewable future, but is now being marketed as a long-term permanent ‘partner’ to renewable energy.
This is justified on the basis that gas has a smaller carbon footprint than coal, but ignores the fact that gas remains responsible for massive greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, the methane released in the production and use of natural gas is much more damaging for the climate than CO2 – more than 100 times more harmful over a 12 year period.
On top of this, the growing push for gas means that this dirty fuel is hampering the development of clean, renewable energy. The rush for gas is another false solution from big polluters, whose interests are to pursue business as usual. While weak in terms of commitments, the 2015 COP 21 Paris climate summit agreement does call for global temperatures to be kept “well below 2 ̊C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 ̊C”, which means leaving at least 80 per cent of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
While the EU styles itself a champion of this deal, it is driving more gas exploitation and encouraging massive investment in corporate-backed gas infrastructure such as the Southern Gas Corridor, a.k.a the Euro-Caspian mega-pipeline that is set to pipe gas from Azerbaijan to Europe. Fossil fuel advocates are pushing for more gas infrastructure to lock the EU into long-term dependency, a disaster for the climate but ensuring profits for oil and gas companies and preventing the much-needed renewable energy transition.