Europe is opening its doors to dirty and dangerous unconventional fossil fuels, Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Europe said today in a joint press release. The warning comes as the European Commission published a framework to guide member states on how to regulate shale gas which fails to provide mandatory protection for Europe’s citizens against the environmental and health risks of fracking.
Despite the best efforts of some decision-makers, attempts to regulate the fracking industry have been undermined by heavy corporate lobbying and pressure from certain member states intent on fracking their lands. The proposal is weak and will not stop the environment and communities being harmed, contradicting previous recommendations and studies made by the European Parliament and the European Commission.
"Shale gas regulations have been fracked to pieces by corporations and fossil fuel-fixated governments," said Antoine Simon, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Insufficient and non-binding recommendations and monitoring mean fracking will go ahead improperly regulated and local communities will be the ones who suffer. Europe is putting the fox in charge of the hen house.”
Europe can expect to see a surge in local resistance, like that witnessed in the UK, Romania and Poland: more than 370 grassroots organizations from all around Europe published last week a letter expressing strong concern about the promises not kept by the EU institutions to put in place a regulatory framework that would guarantee a so-called safe and sustainable development of this industry in Europe.
“The Commission proposals on unconventional fossil fuels fail to deliver the robust rules that the Commission’s own impact assessment, the Parliament, opinion polls and the International Energy Agency have called for," Said Geert de Cock, policy officer for Food & Water Europe. "The lack of courage by EU leaders to stand up to industry pressure will galvanize our campaign for a complete ban on fracking.”
With the heavy support from José Manuel Barroso, the UK, Poland and Romania have all played a leading role in undermining shale gas legislation, with allies Hungary, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Slovakia, according to a letter written by the UK Permanent Representation and obtained by Friends of the Earth.
“Past experience, every poll, study and resolution, pointed to the need for tough regulation," Simon continued. “Instead, we’re repeating the social and environmental mistakes played out across America. The village of Pungeşti, Romania offers a grim example of the future of shale gas development in Europe—with communities themselves the last line of defense against dirty and dangerous fossil fuels.”
Next month, Members of European Parliament will make a final vote on changes to environmental and health safeguards applicable to all fossil fuels, in the form of a review of the Environmental Impact Assessment directive. Fracking remains exempt from mandatory impact assessments after being removed from the text by the European Council. Environmental impact assessments for shale gas projects will only be undertaken voluntarily by member states and some countries have already announced they would not make use of them.
Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Europe campaign against the extraction of unconventional fossil fuels, including shale gas. The extraction of unconventional gas and oil poses a significant threat to the climate, the environment and to local communities. They will lock Europe into fossil fuel use, jeopardize emissions reduction targets and prevent investments in genuine solutions—like the development of community renewable energy resources, and energy savings projects.
Today the European Commission also unveiled its plans to tackle climate change by the year 2030. The proposal disregards climate science and fails to set the ambitious binding targets necessary to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>