Germany pushes EU to develop new gas fields abroad

Berlin claims the move would be in line with the Paris Agreement.

Germany wants the EU to push for the development of new natural gas fields abroad, claiming such a move would be in line with climate efforts.

Berlin is aiming to insert that demand into the draft conclusions of an EU leaders' summit taking place in Brussels Thursday and Friday, according to documents seen by POLITICO.

EU governments and the European Commission should “work together with countries that have the capacity to develop new gas fields, as part of the Paris Climate Agreement commitments,” reads Germany’s proposed amendment to the draft document. 

It was not immediately clear which part of the 2015 Paris Agreement — under which countries agreed to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the clause referred to.

Last year, the International Energy Agency said that to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 — in line with Paris Agreement goals — no new oil or gas fields should be approved for development. At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Germany and other EU countries also pledged to end international funding for unabated fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022. 

At this year's G7 summit, Germany and Italy pushed leaders to adopt language that echoes a similar exception to commitments to end international finance of fossil fuels. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also made clear his desire to build out Senegal's capacity as a major gas supplier in response to the war in Ukraine.

Green groups were alarmed by Germany's call for new gas fields. “Drilling for more gas is deepening Europe’s long-term dependence on fossil fuels, and the consequences will be more droughts, more floods, and higher energy costs for decades to come," said Greenpeace climate campaigner Silvia Pastorelli.

"Olaf Scholz should know better since it’s been barely a year since the German government promised not to support fossil fuel expansion for these very reasons," she added. "The EU should be slashing energy waste and accelerating the rollout of renewable energy, not discarding climate commitments.”

Karl Mathiesen contributed reporting.

By Zia Weise and America Hernandez

cover photo: Green groups are alarmed by Germany's call for new gas fields | Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images