- Majority vote in favour of gas operators in charge of designing hydrogen infrastructure undermines infrastructure plans for the much needed transition to really sustainable renewables, especially in the heating sector.
- More work is needed for a Buildings Directive that is on track with the Paris Agreement and our decarbonisation goals, especially for the residential sector to ensure a transition that leaves no one behind.
Brussels, 9th February – Decision makers in the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee of the European Parliament missed the chance today to vote for a Gas Package that would show a clear exit path for fossil gas by 2035 and put Europe on track with the Paris Agreement. The vote had a bittersweet turn out for the Buildings Directive as well, where a timid compromise deal was approved, while already unveiling first glimpses of the future battles that will have to be fought in the Plenary and during trialogue negotiations.
On the Gas Package vote
A majority vote in favour of gas operators (ENTSOG) in charge of designing future hydrogen infrastructure for some key sectors only shows that the European Parliament does not shy away from giving fossil fuel operators crucial infrastructure planning responsibilities. This is bad news for creating energy infrastructure fit for a renewables based energy transition. Moreover, the definition of low carbon gases, another thorny issue defining the carbon content across the supply chain of so called low carbon gases (e.g. fossil gas based hydrogen, grey or blue), needs to be strengthened considerably, with a reduction factor of 80% instead of 70%. In the absence of these, the Gas Package, part of the ‘Fit for 55’, will not contribute to fighting the climate emergency and bringing down costs for energy prices impacting millions of EU consumers.
“The European Parliament’s final deal is focusing on false solutions on the Gas Package while it does not lay solid grounds for a genuine fossil gas exit, which the shock wave of the Russian aggression should actually have catalysed. Considerable governance problems arise from the fact that an independent hydrogen planning body (ENNOH) is under attack. Giving gas operators (ENTSOG) the task of hydrogen infrastructure planning jeopardises clear guidance on where hydrogen networks will be useful and where gas networks will need to go, risking their overexpansion and creating fossil gas lock in,” said Esther Bollendorff, Gas Policy Expert at CAN Europe
On the EU Buildings Directive vote
Despite strong opposition and heavy attacks from Member States in the weeks leading to the vote, a solid majority was reached in the ITRE Committee for the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The deal brings onto the “Plenary table” Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) which have slightly increased in ambition in comparison to the Commission’s proposal, but are lost in scope at the expense of the residential sector. The derogations and exemptions added to this requirement risk undermining the potential of this instrument in the building segment that needs it the most, especially to ensure a just and inclusive transition that leaves no one behind. The deal also includes for the first time ever a fossil fuel phase out target for buildings (2035), along with a faster stop for subsidies for the installation of fossil fuel boilers in buildings (2024). Although, these two additions can be undermined quickly by flexibilities granted to “heating technologies certified to run on renewable fuels” that could still be installed in buildings (especially new constructions). If the EPBD opens the possibility to use hydrogen, biogas etc. for heating purposes, in a blended mix with fossil gas, is will not be in line with our climate and energy goals.
“Today’s deal is a way too modest win for the buildings sector in the historical moment we live in. Revising the Buildings Directive without ambition may risk locking people in inefficient homes and more fossil fuelled crises to come. Despite the clear need to ramp up ambition in a sector that has suffered the most the effects of the fossil fuel crisis, more work is needed to ensure that buildings are a crucial tassel of the EU energy and climate policy framework and that the Buildings Directive is kept on track with the Paris Agreement, for a faster and socially just decarbonisation of our buildings.” said Eva Brardinelli, EU Buildings Policy Expert at CAN Europe.
Notes to the editor:
On EU Gas Package:
On EU Buildings Directive: