Europe in the Gas Trap

Alexia Barakou

“Natural” might trick you into thinking that it’s not harmful. The oil and gas industry would surely want you to see it that way. But it is still a fossil fuel, and it produces “alarming methane emissions”, say experts.

Art Direction & Motion Graphics Design: Alexia Barakou | Sound design: Aris Athanasopoulos | Narration: Pavlos Zafiropoulos | Produced by Reporters United (Athens, Greece)

Investigate Europe dug into gas investments to understand why Europe is once again acting against its own climate goals. What we found:

  • New gas projects worth 104 billion Euros are underway; capacity for LNG terminals is to be increased by 54%; An extra 12,842 km of pipelines are anticipated down the line
  • In the European Commission’s list of the so-called “Projects of Common Interest”, there are 32 gas projects that have been deemed eligible for funding by the EU. 
  • The Commission repeatedly overestimated the gas demands in the past ten years, according to the European court of Auditors.

But why?
The answers we found are a mix of massive lobby influence, geopolitical competition and economical dependencies throughout Europe.

Click on the interactive map below to explore the gas investments per capita:

Source: Own calculations by Investigate Europe, based on data provided by the NGO Global Energy Monitor for pipeline and power plant data and industry group Gas Infrastructure Europe for data on LNG terminals. This map covers gas power plants, pipelines and LNG terminals. Gas exploration and extraction are not covered.

How Europe is investing €100bn in fossil fuel infrastructure

With much fanfare, governments across Europe are announcing ambitious targets to achieve climate neutrality. President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has promised to put the climate at the heart of her presidency, calling the Green Deal “Europe’s man on the moon moment.” But at the same time, from Brunsbüttel in Germany to Athens in Greece, energy companies are constructing or planning liquefied gas terminals (LNG) and laying pipelines from the Baltic to the Aegean. Read Juliet Ferguson’s report on why gas investments risk becoming ‘lock-ins’ and stranded assets, and what the gas industry has to say about these continued investments.

An LNG terminal in Italy

Read more in your national language with our media partners below — our first publications are out and many more will follow in the coming weeks. On our website, you will also find background information, interviews and data in the “Discover More” section.

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The production of this investigation was supported by a grant from the Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) fund.