Protesters demand an end to the climate-wrecking, undemocratic and anti-social projects being negotiated behind closed doors.
On March, 27th, more than four hundred people in Vienna protested against the European Gas Conference (EGC), blocking the entrance of the Mariott Hotel Vienna, the conference venue. The European Gas Conference is a three-day ‘high-level’ event where representatives of fossil fuel companies such as Shell, Total and BP meet with financial investors and political representatives to take decisions on major energy projects. Despite massive police presence trying to keep the conference behind closed doors, hundreds of people blocked the streets around the conference venue in Vienna’s city centre. The protesters demand an end to the fossil exploitation being planned behind closed doors at the EGC and call for comprehensive changes in order to create a just energy system.
With banners like “European Gas Conference: their profits = our crises” and “Gas = CO2lonialism: Build solidarity, not pipelines!”, the protesters drew attention to the systemic problems of the economic and energy systems controlled by capital interests. “The European Gas Conference is locking out civil society and journalists – and locking in fossil gas for decades to come. The corporations and investors meeting here are wrecking our climate, chaining us to a fossil fuel dependent energy system that means high energy bills for the many but high profits for themselves,” said Verena Gradinger, spokesperson for BlockGas.
Many of the gas projects discussed concern countries in the Global South. “African land is not a gas station. Millions are losing their homes, don’t have access to food, have their health threatened and are slipping into higher levels of extreme poverty because of the fossil fuel industry. Instead of selling away fossil fuel extraction rights to big multinational companies, African leaders should invest in clean, renewable energies that will directly benefit people across the continent without damaging their health”, said Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe, from Don’t Gas Africa, an African civil society campaign who came to Vienna for the Power to the People Conference, a civil society counter-event to the EGC.
The protesters intend to disrupt the whole conference during the next days. “This must be the last European Gas Conference! There is no place for such lobby events if we as a society want to decide together on the future of our energy systems. People are already suffering from the reckless decisions made here in the name of profit. The corporations meeting here destroy people’s livelihoods and precious ecosystems in order to build new mega pipelines, LNG terminals and dirty fracking projects, all in the name of “diversifying” the gas supply of European corporations. Today marks the beginning of the end of this fossil gas madness! We will reclaim the power!” said Anselm Schindler, spokesperson for BlockGas.