Solidarity protests demand EIB pledge against financing new pipeline

Originally published by 350.org.

photo by Gastivists Network

14th November, Europe. Starting today activists are undertaking an international series of coordinated protests at financial institutions and the UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany to demand that the European Investment Bank (EIB) pledges not to sink public funds into a risky new gas expansion project – the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). Under the banner of “No TAP. Not Here. Not Anywhere.” activists will engage in peaceful protest at a range of headquarter offices and other key locations associated with the EIB and the TAP project. These actions will be taking place in countries including Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

These actions are taking place in solidarity with the people of Melendugno, Italy where hundreds of law enforcement officers swept into the town under the cover of darkness on Sunday night to impose a “red zone”, prohibiting journalists, citizens and local government officials from the highly controversial TAP construction site that incorporates local olive farms, aquifers and pristine forest. Resistance to the pipeline in this area is strong and growing, around 20 local community members were inside the red zone when it was appointed, and were subsequently detained by police.

“For many years, the people of Melendugno have been fighting against a project that the State and multinational companies want to impose upon them,” explains Alessandro Runci of Re:Common. They are saying no to TAP, no to the corruption and criminal interests that surround it, no to the destruction it will cause, and no to its undemocratic nature. The Italian government has pursued a strategy of repression and extreme militarisation – now this repression has reached an unprecedented level.”

“The resistance against TAP is symbolic of many fights against big gas infrastructure all over the world. Banks, governments and companies are locking us into gas dependency, making it impossible to meet the 1.5°C  degree global warming limit promised under the Paris Agreement,” says Noelie Audi-Dor of the Gastivists Collective. “Communities are suffering on the ground without receiving any benefit from the exploitation of their land. It is a disgrace that public money is being spent on new fossil fuel infrastructure, redirecting money away from real solutions, such as community-owned renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

Right now government representatives are at the UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany to discuss ways to meet their commitments under the Paris climate agreement – which include limiting global warming to 1.5°C and protecting the communities most vulnerable to climate impacts. If European governments are serious about these commitments then they cannot allow European taxpayers to underwrite TAP – an unnecessary and risky new gas pipeline that will lock us into 40-50 more years of fossil fuels, creating a disaster for the climate as well as communities and environments up and down the gas supply chain.

“Today the EIB board has decided again to postpone a decision on the controversial $2 billion loan to the TAP company for a new gas mega pipeline. These ongoing delays show up TAP for the farce that it is – it’s high time the EU commissioner for the Energy Union, Maros Sefcovic, realises this and calls an end to the project. With ongoing climate negotiations underway this week, in Bonn as the board meets, we’re calling on the EIB to demonstrate its commitment to the Paris Agreement by publicly committing to not fund TAP,” says Tim Ratcliffe of 350.org.

Xavier Sol, Director of Counter Balance (a European coalition monitoring public finance institutions) agrees, he says, “It is time for the EIB to show that it actually is the climate leader it claims to be. We urge the bank to withdraw its support to climate-wrecking gas projects like TAP. Taking such public commitment during the international climate change negotiations would show the EIB can lead by example and truly align with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”

The European Union is pushing hard to develop new gas infrastructure for an energy system that is already operating way below capacity – exemplified by TAP and the MidCAT pipelines and a raft of new LNG terminal across the region. Professor Johan Rockström, director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and professor of environmental science at Stockholm University, explains how this is totally out of line with European climate commitments, “a roadmap to meet the Paris Agreement of staying “well below 2°C” will require halving global emissions every decade. Ramping up investment in fossil fuel infrastructure such as the TAP is inconsistent with the science of 2°C and therefore inconsistent with a goal of attempting to reduce the risk of dangerous climate change.”

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Photos and videos of actions will be available here as they take place

Media Contacts

Notes to editor

[1] For an overview about the struggle against the construction of the TAP in Southern Italy, see 350.org: Local residents in Salento resist mega-pipeline and Counter Balance: Italian communities block pipeline works to save ancient olive trees for a more detailed account.
[2] People across the world are invited to add their names to the open letter at 350.org/no-tap-letter.
[3] For a complete overview of the public financing to the Southern Gas Corridor see here.
[4] Related reports, ‘Can the climate afford Europe’s gas addiction?’ and ‘The great gas lock-in’.

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