Even though experts on energy and climate change warn that producing more fossil fuels could cause global warming to rise above 1.5°C, $223 billion of this trillion-dollar budget will go toward creating and running new gas extraction facilities to feed Europe.
Among the biggest spenders predicted are the oil majors Shell, TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, Equinor, and Eni. Over this time frame, these five corporations collectively have the potential to invest $144 billion in the gas supply for the continent.
The top 20 producers for Europe are expected to spend a total of $105 billion in 2033, a three-quarters increase from $60 billion in 2024.
Fossil gas and gas condensate, a byproduct of gas extraction used to produce diesel, kerosene, and other fossil fuels, are also included in the analysis. Between now and 2033, burning the 3,486 billion cubic meters of fossil gas that is anticipated to be produced in Europe alone would produce 6.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, or 23 years’ worth of France’s carbon emissions.
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If methane emissions were also included, the 6.6 billion emissions amount would be far higher. This figure just accounts for carbon dioxide emissions.
According to estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2024 the EU will make up 66% of the total gas volumes consumed in the wider European region; by 2030, that share is expected to remain essentially unchanged at 65%.
The European Commission is scheduled to present its recommendations for a target to reduce EU emissions by 2040 in February.
“The numbers are stark – Europe is hurtling down a dangerous path by doubling down on fossil gas, and needs to pull out all the stops to end the age of fossil fuels,” stated Dominic Eagleton, senior fossil fuels campaigner at Global Witness. The European Commission needs to take advantage of this opportunity to accelerate Europe’s move away from gas and establish a deadline of 2035 for the phase-out of this expensive, climate-changing, and crisis-ridden fossil fuel.
Industry lobbyists argue that since fossil gas is less harmful to the environment than coal or oil, it should be encouraged as a “bridge fuel” as the world switches to renewable energy sources. However, when methane emissions are taken into consideration, gas is frequently more harmful to the climate than coal or oil.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that the world will warm by more than 1.5°C due to greenhouse gas emissions from current fossil fuel infrastructure, let alone further emissions from new projects.
The IEA, meanwhile, incorporates no new fossil fuel investments in its energy scenario modelling for controlling the global temperature rise at 1.5°C.
The demand for fossil fuels will sharply decline if governments take the necessary steps to prevent catastrophic global warming. According to climate science, boosting the adoption of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures will reduce gas consumption in the EU to negligible levels by 2035, according to energy scenario modeling conducted by Climate Action Network Europe. New fields can become obsolete due to a decline in gas consumption, making it impossible for fossil fuel corporations to recover their investment costs.