Greenpeace activists protest against government’s investments into fossil gas

Nel Pavletic/PIXSELL

Greenpeace activists gathered at the Krk Bridge in northern Adriatic on Monday to protest against the government's decision to enlarge the capacity of the state-owned liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Omisalj on the island of Krk and the construction of a new gas pipeline.

The protesters gathered in kayaks near the bridge, close to the existing gas pipeline, to call on the government to make reverse its energy policy and invest in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency rather than keep investing in fossil fuel infrastructure. The protest was timed to coincide with the UN’s COP27 conference on climate change, taking place in Egypt on 6-18 November.

“Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, said recently in Egypt that ‘the vast majority of Croatians’ support measures to mitigate the impact of climate change, announcing further efforts in this regard. But it seems that in practice his policy is going in the opposite direction, given the recent announcements that a large amount of money would be spent to increase the LNG capacity and build the Zlobin-Bosiljevo gas pipeline,” said Petra Andric, program coordinator at Greenpeace Croatia.

Andric was referring to a speech Plenkovic gave in Egypt last week, in which he claimed that 80 percent of Croatians support climate action. Although his statement was widely carried by local media, it is unclear where he got this figure from.

The project to upgrade the LNG terminal will reportedly cost €25 million and the new Zlobin-Bosiljevo gas pipeline would cost €155 million. Both were announced in August and both will be finnaced by EU funding from the so-called REPowerEU scheme.

Andric warned that such projects cement Croatia’s reliance on fossil fuels, which is “completely incompatible with the rhetoric Plenkovic used at the COP27 conference.”

“Fossil gas is neither green nor clean, nor is it a transition fuel. Fossil gas is a climate killer. If we are to avert a climate disaster – which we are hurtling towards, given increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and floods – we need to stop using fossil gas no later than 2035,” state news agency Hina quoted Andric as saying.

Greenpeace said that Croatia “insufficiently recognizes” solar power – by which they probably meant that government under-invests in solar power – adding that even though Croatia is “among the countries with the largest potential for the use of solar energy, it is at the bottom in terms of its actual use.”

“Measures such as abolishing VAT tax for the installation of solar power systems for households are welcome, but they should be in place permanently, instead of being used in crisis situations only,” Hina cited Greenpeace as saying.

The government recently cut tax on solar power systems as part of its package of subsidies, vouchers and tax cuts designed to help Croatians survive the cost-of-living crisis and the surge in energy prices.