This is a joint press release issued by: 350.org, Gastivists Collective, Attac France, Ecologistas en Acción
22 January, France – Today the French energy regulator (CRE) and their Spanish counterparts (CNMC) have said they will not support the highly controversial Franco-Spanish South Transit East Pyrenees (STEP) gas pipeline, the first stage of the mega Midi-Catalonia (MidCat) gas pipeline. These combined decisions will starve MidCat of investment and are being hailed as a victory for communities and solidarity groups that have worked tirelessly to see this pipeline scrapped by demanding that Spanish and French regulators consider national climate commitments, local impacts and the risks of investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure before deciding whether to back the project.
Claude Bascompte of the collective against the cross-border gas pipeline says, “this decision is a relief for local people, for whom this project came out of nowhere and made no sense, it is very satisfying for all Catalans. The abandonment of this proposed pipeline should release funding that could now be dedicated to local renewable energy projects.”
If completed, MidCat would have doubled the amount of gas travelling between France and Spain at a time when scientists say it is still possible to safeguard the future and keep global warming below the critical threshold of 1.5°C degrees, but only by immediately halting the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, and initiating a rapid phaseout of fossil fuel production and use. The European Union continues to flout its climate commitments by prioritising new dirty energy projects including more than 90 gas projects like the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, the Dutch gas fields and a Swedish LNG terminal by incorporating them into the EU’s Projects of Common Interest. “This list of projects, of so-called common interest, reflects the interests of the lobbies rather than that of the populations concerned,” says Cécile Marchand, Campaigner at Friends of the Earth.
Nonetheless, today’s decision by the French and Spanish authorities shows that a series of diverse, escalating and coordinated actions from local groups can halt fossil fuel expansion, even when the proposed project has the backing of the European Union.
“All across Europe, we are building a future free of fossil fuels. Together we are making it harder and harder for dirty energy companies to build their pipelines and impose a destructive and outdated model of business. Today we have won an important victory because we have prevented the construction of a major piece of infrastructure that is totally incompatible with a liveable climate,” says Clemence Dubois, campaigner at 350.org.
“This is a major victory for civil society. In Spain numerous organisations and collectives have gathered in the Gas is no Solution network to make it clear that the Spanish citizens are not going to let gas be part of the energy transition. Gas is a dirty energy no matter how you frame it. MidCat is just one milestone on the long road to ending the use of fossil fuels” Samuel Martín-Sosa, Ecologistas en Acción
“If there is money for gas there is money for renewables. On one hand, we are being told there isn’t money to fund a renewable energy transition yet on the other we are seeing a massive push for public financing of new fossil gas projects. The result is projects like MidCat and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline for which there is no demand and which will become stranded assets if countries are to meet their commitments to the Paris Agreement. These projects and the more than 90 other so-called “Projects of Common Interest” reflect the success of gas industry lobbying in Brussels. The rejection of the MidCat Pipeline today is hopefully the first of many such dangerous fossil gas projects to fall as Europe realizes there is no future in fossil fuels.” Kevin Buckland, No Més Gas
“We will never drop our fight against new gas infrastructure. Neither MidCat nor STEP have shown that they would deliver any benefits for the local residents but instead, they carry grave social, environmental and economic risks.” Carol Coll, Spokesperson at Plataforma Resposta al MidCat
“We are really proud of all the activists who fought against this destructive project and won. Now we take on the responsibility to make the next step: stopping the proposed 260-kilometre gas pipeline project connecting Portugal to Spain.” Sinan, Eden Climaximo
“The Collective Against the Transboundary Gas Pipeline is pleased with this decision, which relieves the region from the climate, environmental, seismic, economic and water-related pressures it would have endured with the MidCat/STEP project. The abandonment of this project makes funding available that should now be dedicated to local renewable energy projects. “Claude Bascompte, Collectif Contre le Gazoduc Transfrontalier.
“It is very satisfying to see that public investment will not be used for fossil fuels, we now urge that these funds should be redirected to renewable, local and citizen-managed energy projects.” Jacqueline Balvet, Attac France
“This dramatic red card to the MidCat gas pipeline marks a major victory in the fight to stop new climate-wrecking fossil gas projects. Activists, NGOs and local communities have been fighting this useless project for years, knowing it’s bad for taxpayers, consumers, local people, and the climate – and today they’ve been proved right.” Antoine Simon, Friends of the Earth Europe
Mark Raven at 350.org