Activists interrupted a keynote address by a gas industry lobbyist to demand the European Union do more to prove itself as a climate leader, and stem the flow of gas across the continent.
Around 30 activists conducted a “symbolic walk out” during a talk by Marco Alvera, president of lobby group GasNaturally. The campaigners rose from their seats as Alvera declared that the industry “fully supports the Paris Agreement” and said there was an opportunity for the gas industry to “capitalise” as other fossil fuels are phased out.
Gas emits less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels such as coal and oil when burned. But scientists say that use of natural gas could have to reduce “by more than 50 percent” by 2050 if the world is going to prevent warming of 1.5 degrees, or unless new technology to capture and store the fuel’s emissions is developed.
Simon Roscoe Blevins, an anti-fracking campaigner from the UK who was part of the action, told the media “natural gas is not the solution to climate change. There is no place for it, now or in the future”.
In September 2018, Blevins and two others were jailed for their part in protesting against Cuadrilla’s fracking activities in Lancashire.
Protest has been severely restricted at this year’s UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland. Blevins said it was “scary that people on the ground, who climate change is affecting, aren’t given a platform to speak” at the negotiations.
Campaigner Naomi Kreitman, part of the Gastivists collective, who also participated in the action, said it was “ridiculous” that lobby groups like GasNaturally were being given a platform at the conference, while activists were being constrained.
“This place is incredibly restrictive, but it creates a sort of theatre. We call it the climate circus”, she said.
“Corporations have so much access, money and connections at these talks. All we have is our creativity”.
A spokesperson for GasNaturally told DeSmog:
“We would have been happy for them to take part to the debate if they really wanted to, either from the audience or by arranging for them to sit on the panel alongside the other stakeholders.”
“As for the role of gas, many governments around the world are already using it to shift away from more polluting fuels and achieving significant emission reductions in the process; so gas isn't simply a bridge fuel, it's a concrete solution to get on the right track.”
Image: Mat Hope/DeSmog UK. Updated 13/12/2018: A statement from GasNaturally was added.