Two years after the Paris Agreement, and by the time the French capital hosts the summit One Planet, a gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Italy Tuesday should benefit from an unprecedented funding from the European Investment Bank.
The same day of the climate summit organized by the Elysée Palace on 12 December, the European Investment Bank (EIB) should provide the largest loan in its history: 1.5 billion euros for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline ( TAP). A highlight: natural gas is a fossil fuel whose operation is highly emitting methane. According to NASA, the emissions from this highly polluting gases are responsible for over a third of global warming since the mid-seventeenth century. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), meanwhile, has already provided a loan of one billion euros for the exploration of one of the largest gas fields in the world: Shah Deniz 2 in Azerbaijan. This is where we get the APR. The EBRD is considering new aid to 1.5 billion euros. The APR is the European segment of the gigantic South Corridor pipeline, meant to carry Azerbaijani gas from the Caspian Sea. In June 2013, the pipeline was awarded the label “project of common interest” by the European Commission under the Juncker plan on infrastructure financing. According to the Energy Union, it would open one of 12 energy corridors identified as “essential” to allow diversification of supply sources and energy security in the European Union.
olive trees uprooted
Only, in this status, the project is expected to also help to “reduce CO2 emissions.” “The European Commission has admitted not having done the climate impact study on this pipeline, says Adriana Paradiso, the NGO Counter Balance, which oversees investments of public banks. If it did, it should have recognized that it does not respect the commitments of the Paris climate agreement. But as the APR is one of the most important projects of the Energy Union, the Commission does not want to give up. ”
Since April, the town of Melendugno, after the Italian boot, is the scene of regular clashes between police and dozens of protesters. The reason: the huge gas pipe construction on the town. For Turkey, it should reach Italy after 878 kilometers through Greece, Albania and under the Adriatic Sea. A project valued at 45 billion euros. In Italy, the pipeline must be linked to other pipes that serve southern Europe. Only for this, 10,000 trees will be moved in the Puglia region. “This is madness, sighs Juliet Franco militant Committee No TAP, a citizen grouping opposing the book in Italy. Several engineers have assured us that the project was not viable technically. It passes through areas of high seismic risk. However, work has already begun in the sea and, despite a ban on construction during the tourist season, the operations continue. “In April, a hundred mayors from around Melendugno and the regional president sent a letter to the government demand the termination of the project. Without success. On the night of 3 to 4 July, violent clashes erupted in the small town where 42 trees were to be moved during the night, framed by police forces sent by the national government, but that local authorities are aware. “The 42 olive trees in early July displaced were uprooted in April. Because of demonstrators who blocked the site where the trees were stored TAP could not move in the nursery before the beginning of July, “then assured the TAP AG consortium in an email to Liberation. The same week, an international petition signed by figures such as Naomi Klein and Erri De Luca was launched by the NGO 350.org to demand that European public funds do not finance the pipeline.
“In the cold”
In February 2017, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, said: “Our shared commitment to finish the South Corridor. This is a key priority for both sides [EU and Azerbaijan, ed]. “For Brussels, TAP is the most advanced project that would allow the EU to divest some of its dependence on Russian gas. In the first quarter 2017, deliveries of Russian gas to Europe approached record levels and covered 41% of imports, according to the European Commission. TAP aims to transport 10 billion m3 of Azerbaijani gas to Europe by 2020. Designed as an alternative to Nabucco titanic ultimately abandoned, which would link Turkey to Austria, South Corridor has been largely reduced. Its economic relevance was questioned face of a strong decline in European gas consumption between 2010 and 2014. Since 2015, it is bullish but should drop to its 2014 level in fifteen years, according to European Commission.
After fourteen years of consultations and despite starting work, the APR is not certain to succeed. “The decline in gas production in Azerbaijan is expected around 2025, says Marie-Claire Aoun, director of the Energy Center at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI). But the EU has no choice. It must diversify its imports because the European deposits, including the Netherlands, come to an end. “The country has seen its production fall by 10.5% between 2015 and 2016, according to Eurostat.
For fear of an energy crisis, Europe appeals excessive supply routes. In addition to Ukrainian pipelines, North Stream pipeline linking Russia to Germany and soon to be doubled, the continent has 200 billion m 3 of the capacity of non-liquefied gas (LNG) terminals, for a quarter of that amount imports. To Claude Turmes, Luxembourg Green MEP, “we do not need this pipeline. The European Court of Auditors has already accused the Commission of overstating its estimates of European gas consumption. Every day, the gas lobby in the corridors of Parliament to assure members that Europe will soon be back in the cold. ” In a report published in 2015, the European Court of Auditors showed that the successive Commission projections, made by an outside contract, have greatly overestimated the reality of consumption. “The Commission must restore the credibility of forecasts it uses” has therefore requested the Court.
Mark Fodor, the NGO Bankwatch, adds: “In Brussels, we will not acknowledge that this project has no economic relevance because there are too many diplomatic issues behind. So they sign our dependence on the long-term gas against all climate rationalism. “The European Commission is committed to the Azerbaijani power to carry out the construction of the pipeline. “It’s one of the worst regimes in the world, ensures the MEP Claude Turmes. EU puts its credibility at stake in the field of respect for human rights and transparency in doing business with President Ilham Aliyev. “In early March, the Transparency Initiative in the extractive industries has suspended Azerbaijan for its repeated abuse of human rights. “The Azerbaijani government continues to wage a vicious crackdown on opposition voices. Space for independent activism, critical journalism, and the political opposition was wiped out by arrests and conviction of many activists, defenders of human rights and journalists’, described to Human Rights Watch in its latest report on the country.
To escape its dependence on Russian gas, the EU is forced to turn to countries where respect for human rights is not brighter. “The gas is found largely in countries that do not have the same democratic standards as the EU develops Marie Claire Aoun, Ifri. These plans often depend on oil and gas revenues to establish their authority, like Turkmenistan, Iran, and Iraq, which are Europe pipeline reach. “The Southern Corridor also passes through Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended his authoritarian rule.
Moreover, Russia has no intention of seeing bloom competition. Agreements to allow Gazprom, the oil and gas state company, access to the South Corridor are already under discussion. The Italian government is negotiating with the Kremlin to have direct access to the resource and avoid German re-export hubs nibbling the market. In October 2016, Turkey and Russia signed an agreement on the realization of Turkish Stream, a gas pipeline should be related to the South European pipeline. Finally, the Russian company Lukoil, partly controlled by the state, is responsible for the extraction of gas from the Shah Deniz field 2. Moscow has thus already marked the project’s footprint.
The APR is also challenged because of the many expropriations of landlines in its path. Several legal proceedings are underway in Albania and Greece, where construction began. Complaints have also been filed with the EIB. A European bank, we are assured that “as with all projects it finances, the EIB applies in its review of the highest technical standards folder, economic, financial, environmental and social.” Yet the record is about ready although to be granted. In violation of the commitments that will announce the European Commission at the One Planet summit in Paris.