Climate activists protest European Gas Conference in Vienna

The three-day conference in Vienna will be attended by energy giants and will assess the impact of the 2022–23 winter on the security of the gas market in Europe

March 27, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
European gas conference Austria
Protest near the private jet terminal at Vienna Airport. (Photo: via Block Gas Coalition)

On Monday, March 27, hundreds of climate activists demonstrated in the Austrian capital of Vienna, protesting the three-day European Gas Conference that started in the city on the same day. Calls for protest were issued by the Block Gas Alliance. Activists from Fridays for Future also took part. The Communist Party of Austria (KPO) and the Links Vienna group had also called for protests against the energy corporations summit in the city. 

A statement by protesters said, “while the world has been hit by the climate crisis inflicted by the overuse of fossil fuels, and Europe is facing an acute energy crisis caused by profiteering of the energy giants, we will crash the champagne party of the gas lobby at the European Gas Conference.”

Police were heavily deployed in the city and tried to forcefully push the protesters back. On March 26, protests were held at the private jet terminal at the Vienna Airport, denouncing the arrival of conference delegates in private jets.

The ongoing European Gas Conference (March 27–29) will assess the impact of the 2022-23 winter on the security of the Eastern and Western European gas markets, especially on diversifying from piped gas from Russia. Journalist Seymour Hersh has suggested that the US might have been behind the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines, which carried Russian gas into Europe. Last year, after the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, the European Union (EU), the UK, and the US imposed heavy sanctions on Russian imports, including supplies of cheap natural gas to Europe, resulting in multi-fold increase in energy prices across Europe. According to reports, many energy giants have reaped huge profits from the crisis. Meanwhile, climate activists are also protesting the war, the energy crunch, and the continuous profiteering by oil giants that will further delay and derail the transition to green energy.

On March 26, the Vienna Committee of the Communist Party of Austria (KPO) said, “while the government gives energy savings and fails to combat inflation, energy companies make record profits. The biggest of them, like OMV group or RWE AG to financial giants like BlackRock are now meeting in Vienna for the European Gas Conference.”

Regarding the protests, the Block Gas Coalition stated that “the current push for gas is harmful to everyone except fossil fuel corporations. This leads to corporations profiting off our basic needs, all the while destroying our chances of remaining below the vital 1.5 degree limit of global heating. New fossil gas infrastructure is designed to be used for several decades, being a further catalyst for war and economic precarity across the world. Now, the Gas Industrial Complex is using the Russia-Ukraine war to inflate the importance of fossil gas projects and encourage mass investments.”

“In Europe, our dependence on fossil fuels has led to sky-rocketing inflation, energy and cost of living crises. At the same time, the extraction of gas is causing massive destruction and the recent hoarding on the LNG market by Europe is creating a much bigger energy and economic crisis in countries of the Global South. Current plans by the European gas industry in the Global South threaten to extend colonial injustices by exploiting local resources, dispossessing their communities and irreversibly damaging ecosystems,” the Block Gas Coalition added.