Greenpeace activists

Greenpeace activists protest in the LNG gas terminal of Fluxys in Zeebrugge, Belgium on April 29, 2023.

(Photo: Eric De Mildt/Greenpeace)

Greenpeace Activists Scale Belgian LNG Terminal to Demand End to US Imports

"Many gas projects and terminals are emerging across Europe and the U.S., directly threatening the health of communities near production sites and the entire planet with disastrous environmental and climate impacts."

Expressing solidarity with people in frontline communities where the fossil fuel industry has for decades polluted the air and water and exposed millions of people to public safety risks, nearly two dozen campaigners with Greenpeace Belgium on Saturday entered the liquefied natural gas terminal of energy infrastructure company Fluxys in Zeebrugge, to demand an end to European imports of LNG from the United States.

Ten people climbed the infrastructure and 12 people kayaked into the terminal, displaying signs that read "U.S. Gas Kills" and "Solidarity with the U.S. Gulf South."

The campaigners came from countries including Austria, France, and Germany and climbed onto platforms used for loading and unloading the tankers that transport LNG, which is gas that's been cooled and liquefied after fracking or drilling extraction process. They unfurled a large banner reading, "Gas kills."

"Greenpeace asks Fluxys and our authorities to abandon any new gas infrastructure that locks us into dependence on fossil gas," said Greenpeace Belgium on social media. "We demand a European exit from gas by 2035 in order to achieve our climate goals."

Although Europe's gas demand has not gone up, Greenpeace said, LNG imports from the U.S. to Europe surged by 140% in 2022, from 28.2 billions of cubic meters (bcm) in 2021 to 68.96 bcm last year.

Since 2018, imports have gone up 1,767%.

"Following the shock of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, gas operators like Fluxys quickly shifted their public messaging and lobbying from 'energy transition' to 'energy security' and cynically used the opportunity to frighten governments into massive, unneeded investment into and expansion of fossil gas imports and infrastructure," said Mathieu Soete, an energy expert with Greenpeace Belgium. "Under pressure from companies like Fluxys, many gas projects and terminals are emerging across Europe and the U.S., directly threatening the health of communities near production sites and the entire planet with disastrous environmental and climate impacts."

According to the group, in the past 12 months, 17 shipments of LNG—amounting to 1.150 million tonnes—have traveled from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the Fluxys terminal in Zeebrugge, including nine from Sabine Pass, Texas; five from Cameron, Louisiana; and three from Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana.

The lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with those shipments would be 6.9 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent per year—the same amount emitted by 1.5 million fossil fueled cars.

Saturday's protest followed the publication of a Greenpeace International report titled Who Profits From War: How Gas Corporations Capitalize on War in Ukraine.

That analysis detailed how, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which pushed Europe to end its use of Russian oil and gas, "gas infrastructure operators, portfolio traders, and gas companies have declared that imported liquefied gas is the answer to the crisis and will remain so for decades to come."

"This LNG expansion threatens the health of communities living near these export terminals, extraction sites, and pipelines, while potentially pushing planet warming emissions past levels to meet global climate goals," the report states.

As Greenpeace advocates climbed the Fluxys infrastructure, the group posted on social media a call from U.S. activist and Gulf Coast resident John Beard, who described the high rates of cancer, other diseases, and pollution his community faces as a result of LNG extraction and exporting.

"It has come to my attention that you all are importing this fossil gas to Belgium and the Europe," said Beard. "And it's also been brought to my attention that you are not looking at due diligence issues of what importing this gas might do to communities like mine and others along the Gulf Coast."

The Greenpeace report published this month notes that nearly all European countries that are importing LNG have banned fracking on their own land due to research showing proximity to oil and gas extraction projects can cause cancer, poor birth outcomes, respiratory impacts such as asthma, and other health impacts.

"Our governments must not allow the gas lobby to influence our energy policies," said Soete. "We cannot lock ourselves into dependence on gas—all gas kills, whether Russian, American, or Norwegian. Policymakers must stop the fossil fuel expansion and build a wall between themselves and the fossil fuel lobby to accelerate the transition to decentralized, renewable, and clean energies and slash energy waste."

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