Drilling frenzy in Europe at the expense of the climate

Schiermonnikoog is known to be one of the most beautiful places in the Netherlands. This 16.4 kilometer long island boasts the widest beach in Europe, 300 species of birds and thriving tourism.

But since the Dutch and German governments have authorized the development of a new gas field some 19 kilometers from its coast, its mayor is worried about the future.

“We are concerned that the drilling will damage the area, this Ineke van Gent. We also believe that we don’t need to look for additional gas and that we would be better off investing more in renewables.”

Europe running out of gas

This project, which concerns German and Dutch territorial waters in the North Sea, is just one of the initiatives that have been given the green light or are being reconsidered in the European Union and the United Kingdom. United since Russia invaded Ukraine. Europe is desperate to secure a supply of natural gas independent of the dictates of Moscow. [Le 26 juillet]European leaders have set themselves the goal of reducing gas consumption by 15% by March 2023 to avoid a crisis when the weather turns cold.

A drop in energy supply risks driving up prices further, triggering a wave of power cuts and leaving vulnerable households unable to pay their bills.

However, scientists, climate advocates and residents of Schiermonnikoog are frustrated. They are convinced that governments are using the war in Ukraine as political cover for projects that will not yet be operational this winter and which may ultimately hinder the fight against global warming.

The field near Schiermonnikoog is not expected to supply gas to Dutch and German households until 2024. Once launched, it will be able to operate for decades, with licenses granted until 2042.

“In principle, we need to get rid of all fossil fuels, and very quickly”, says Han Dolman, director of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Marine Research (Nioz), who opposes the exploitation program. “[Ce projet] will not solve any of the problems related to the Russian gas crisis in the immediate future.”

ONE-Dyas, the Dutch company leading the operations, argues that it has been in frequent contact with local stakeholders since 2018 and has conducted a comprehensive environmental impact study, which has been reviewed by authorities. Locally produced gas also has a lower carbon footprint than imported gas, she adds.

A “long and difficult” winter

Europe is doing all it can to secure a gas supply as Russia is determined to punish Europe for its support of Ukraine. Gazprom, the gas giant p

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