After coal, activists tackle liquefied natural gas in Germany
Clean Energy Wire / taz
Following years of protests in the western German Rhenish lignite mining region, activist group Ende Gelände is set to target plans for an import terminal for LNG (liquefied natural gas) in the country’s north this week, reports tageszeitung (taz). From Friday (30 July), the group plans to protest at the envisioned site of what could be Germany’s first own import terminal – Brunsbüttel at the mouth of the Elbe River – and in the nearby harbour city Hamburg, Ende Gelände said in a press release. As part of a global day of action against gas, fracking and colonialism, they are demanding “an immediate gas phase-out and an end to neo-colonial exploitation”. The climate crisis and such exploitation go hand in hand, said the group’s spokesperson Elia Nejem. Fossil gas contributes to climate change and, at the same time, extraction techniques like fracking “poisons soils and drinking water. This particularly affects people in the Global South and indigenous communities,” she said.
The use of fossil gas amid the transition to climate neutrality is a hotly debated topic in Germany and the European Union, as it emits CO2 when burned and its main component methane is a potent greenhouse gas itself. Unconventional fracking is not allowed in Germany, but the country imports most of the fossil gas it uses from across the world. Pushed by the recent oil and gas boom, the U.S. for example has massively increased exports and is now portraying its liquefied natural gas (LNG) both as an additional fuel in a secure and diversified mix amid turbulent geopolitical times, and as a way to phase-out dirtier coal and oil. However, high greenhouse gas emissions along the entire value chain of extraction, processing, transport, storage and consumption challenge this sales pitch – a problem for trade partner Germany, which is on a clear path to climate neutrality by 2045. Germany’s gas infrastructure is well-connected with neighbouring countries and the need for its own domestic LNG import terminal is contested, as terminals across Europe continue not to be utilised to full capacity.