Grassroots activists in Sweden triumphed in their fight against new gas infrastructure when the Swedish government denied a fossil gas terminal in Gothenburg its final permit on climate grounds in October 2019. The government’s stance directly contrasts the prevailing EU narrative that gas must be a transition fuel on the path to decarbonisation.
The victory comes after years of local organising spearheaded by local grassroots group Fossilgasfällan (“the fossil gas trap”), and a few weeks after a mass civil disobedient action in September where hundreds of people from the region gathered to block the energy harbour and the Fossil Gas Terminal in protest. “When we started campaigning against the terminal in early 2017, the gas lobby’s claims that this massive piece of new fossil fuel infrastructure was a solution of sorts went unchallenged,” said Fossilgasfällan leader Olivia Linander. “We have shifted the conversation entirely.”
The terminal would have been the largest of several planned along the coast of Sweden by the company Swedegas. Campaigners, scientists and increasingly politicians spoke out against this expansion, insisting that the climate crisis requires a rapid fossil fuel phase-out. The Swedish anti-gas movement’s organisers are part of a global network of grassroots groups fighting new gas infrastructure, known as the Gastivists.
The Gothenburg LNG (liquified natural gas) terminal is one of the 112 gas projects included on the PCI (Project of Common Interest) list, which receive political support from the EU. This permit was to link the terminal to the Swedish gas network. This decisive move by the Swedish government comes at a time when the EU is faced with significant upcoming decisions on the future role of gas. As talks of the new EU Commission’s European Green Deal intensify, experts are saying that a Green Deal for Europe will fail unless it confronts natural gas.