31 Oct 2022, 13:12
Julian Wettengel

NGOs call on German govt to close door on foreign fossil fuel support

Clean Energy Wire

Several German NGOs have called on the government to rule out public support for fossil fuel extraction projects in other countries and thus make good on its pledge signed at last year’s UN climate change conference COP26. “Insufficient implementation” of the agreement to phase out foreign fossil fuel financing by the end of 2022 would damage Germany's credibility at the forthcoming COP27 and put a heavy burden on the negotiations, Germanwatch, Greenpeace, E3G and others said in an open letter to the chancellor and several ministers. According to the NGOs, the government is currently working on new funding criteria and could decide these soon. They said they are “deeply concerned about the signals” they received from the chancellery and economy ministry that upstream (extraction) and midstream (transport infrastructure) projects could be supported. “The development of new gas fields abroad cannot solve the short-term gas crisis in Germany,” they said. “It leads directly into a fossil lock-in and further exacerbates the climate crisis with all its catastrophic consequences.” The economy ministry has not yet replied to a request for comment.

In its just-released World Energy Outlook 2022, the International Energy Agency (IEA) lays out a scenario for net zero emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement target to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. In this scenario, there would be no new oil and gas extraction projects, but the IEA states that amid geopolitical tensions, “Europe may want greater certainty over its gas import requirements by concluding new gas supply arrangements.” However, countries would have to make sure that a massive surge in investment in renewables, energy efficiency and other clean energy technologies happened at the same time, and recognise that any new oil and gas exploration would be risky investments and had to be as clean as possible using the most low-emission technologies. Furthermore, countries should realise that any additional emissions mean even higher need for reductions later. “No one should imagine that Russia’s invasion can justify a wave of new oil and gas infrastructure in a world that wants to reach net zero emissions by 2050,” the report says.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz has been pushing for allowing support of foreign fossil fuel projects, as the consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine – what he has described as a turn of an era (“Zeitenwende”) – mean that things have changed since a pledge was signed at last year’s UN climate change conference COP26. Plans to support Senegal’s gas projects have come under fire. Germany was among a group of countries that said they would phase out foreign fossil fuel financing by the end of 2022. Scholz secured an agreement among leaders of the G7 at their summit in Bavaria earlier this year, which opens the door to public gas sector support “consistent with climate objectives.” Scholz’s government reportedly tried to agree similar wording at a recent meeting of EU heads of state and government, but failed.

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