17. Oktober 2023

More German Municipal Utilities Leave Fossil Gas Lobby Group

Berlin, October 17, 2023 – As a result of growing public pressure, several more German municipal utilities have withdrawn from the gas lobby group “Zukunft Gas”. More than a quarter of the originally approximately 100 municipal utilities that were members of “Zukunft Gas” have cut ties with the gas lobby group in the past year. This comes as civil society groups have staged protests against the membership of municipal utilities in Zukunft Gas, given the gas lobby group’s role in advocating for the gas industry and promoting the use of fossil gas. The campaign has been led by the organisations 350.org, LobbyControl, Umweltinstitut München and WeiterSo!.

Kate Cahoon, Team Lead of 350.org Germany: 
“The fact that municipal authorities are cutting ties with the gas lobby proves that civil society pressure is effective. After reaching out to them and holding local protests, these municipal utilities apparently understood that it is not justifiable to pay membership fees funded by their customers to a gas lobby group. However, we will need to keep up the pressure in order to prevent municipal utilities from buying into gas industry myths around fossil so-called ‘new gases’ and clean hydrogen. Legislators and municipal energy providers must now take the only right step towards a just and clean future and embrace genuine renewable energy solutions.”

Christina Deckwirth, spokesperson for LobbyControl: 
“The debate about the future of energy and heat supply in municipalities is currently highly contentious. It is harmful to democracy when the decisions that need to be made are distorted by misleading lobbying messages. Yet, that is precisely what happens when Zukunft Gas promotes expensive and predominantly fossil hydrogen for heating. The primary benefit is for major gas corporations wanting to continue making billions in profits from gas. Consumers and municipalities carry the financial burden when the phase out of gas, which is environmentally harmful and likely to become more expensive, is delayed as a result. It is good that more and more municipal utilities are now turning their backs on the gas lobby group Zukunft Gas. Municipal utilities should not allow themselves to be taken advantage of by the gas lobby. Municipal utilities are required to act for the common good, which must clearly take precedence over one-sided fossil lobby interests.”

Henning Peters, Energy and Climate Advisor at the Umweltinstitut München:
“Cutting ties with Zukunft Gas also makes sense from an economic perspective: municipal utilities that receive advice from Zukunft Gas are likely to make significant bad investments in gas and hydrogen infrastructure. These investments could leave municipal utilities financially trapped if sufficient hydrogen is not available for built infrastructure in future. Science agrees that hydrogen will only be available to a limited extent and at high prices. Membership fees to Zukunft Gas can also be better used for local energy transitions. Being a member of Zukunft Gas is like paying a financial advisor to give bad advice!”

Sam Beiras from the WeiterSo! Collective:
“It is outrageous that municipal companies, obligated by law to the common good, are financially supporting the climate-damaging work of the gas lobby. Municipal utilities should act in the interest of their customers and not in the interest of the gas industry. Therefore, we applaud municipal utilities for canceling their membership with Zukunft Gas and look forward to more to follow.”


In February, the investigative media outlet Correctiv uncovered how municipal companies in Germany finance the work of the gas lobby group “Zukunft Gas” (link to the article). Among them are two of the largest regional energy providers, Mainova (Hessen) and Badenova (Southern Baden), as well as many smaller municipal utilities, particularly in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, Rhineland-Palatinate, and North Rhine-Westphalia.

“Zukunft Gas” is a lobby association with members including municipal utilities and large gas corporations such as Wintershall, Shell, and the former Gazprom subsidiary Wingas. The group aims to continue promoting fossil gas to the public, political decision-makers, and municipal utilities. The association promotes the use of hydrogen for heating, although experts agree that the application of hydrogen in the heating sector is not recommended, given the high costs and the limited availability of green hydrogen. “Zukunft Gas” continues to promote hydrogen as a climate-neutral solution, despite the fact that most hydrogen is currently from fossil fuel sources.

350.org, together with WeiterSo, LobbyControl, and Umweltinstitut München, has been calling for municipalities to cancel their memberships with the gas lobby group and supporting local campaigns. In May 2023, LobbyControl contacted municipal utilities with an open letter signed by over 14,000 people. Shortly after, over 70 organizations joined in a call for municipal utilities to quit the gas lobby. At the end of September, local groups participated in a decentralised day of action, which saw protests and actions in twelve locations across Germany, including at Zukunft Gas’ headquarters in Berlin.

Since July 2022, a total of 26 German municipal utilities have disappeared from the membership list of “Zukunft Gas”, with 20 of them issuing statements on request confirming their withdrawal. The most recent announcements are from Stadtwerke Eutin, Stadtwerk am See from Friedrichshafen, and Gelsenwasser Energienetze.


Kate Cahoon
[email protected]
+49 (0)176 63 60 65 03