European energy summit hostage to big oil and gas

11 April 2016

Europe continues to be taken hostage by destructive fossil fuels and the companies who profit from them, according to Friends of the Earth groups protesting at an informal meeting of European energy ministers in Amsterdam today.

Local activists protested at Shell's sponsorship of this week's EU energy meeting in arrangement with the Dutch government. Shell are currently under-investigation by Italian prosecutors in an anti-corruption probe but remain a sponsor of this week's EU energy attachés gathering in Amsterdam as part of the EU informal Energy Council. Activists urged the delegation to halt participation in fossil-fuel industry sponsored events, and to visit the Groningen region of the Netherlands, severely ravaged by gas exploitation.

Antoine Simon, extractive industries campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "It's time our energy Ministers got real. There's no place for fossil fuels, or the infrastructure required for them, in Europe's energy future. We urgently need to invest in renewables and energy efficiency instead."

Shell is sponsoring a boat trip, lunch and museum visit for delegates at the event this week. The area of Groningen has been hit by hundreds of earthquakes in recent years as a result of gas extraction resulting in damage to buildings across the region.

Ike Teuling, climate and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said: "It is ridiculous that the Netherlands, as President of the European Union, allows a European summit to be taken hostage by Shell. Shell has one goal: to extract as much oil and gas out of the ground in Groningen, Nigeria and Russia as they can. Taking sponsorship from Shell is like organizing an anti-smoking conference with the cigarette industry."

Four months after the Paris international climate agreement, and two weeks before the agreement is due to be signed, European energy ministers are showing little sign of keeping in line with the 1.5 degrees limit on global warming, according to the organisations. Continued reliance on fossil fuels, like coal and gas, delays the necessary transition to a renewable and efficient energy future.