online event, English language, registration: email@example.com
GUESTS: Christopher Basaldú, Rachel O’Reilly, Esteban Servat, MODERATION: Sumugan Sivanesan (Black Earth Kollektiv)
Over the past decade, what is commonly referred to as ‘natural’ gas has come to be framed as a fuel to bridge the transition towards a fossil-free energy future. Because gas produces around half as much CO2 emissions than coal when burned, it is widely framed as a cleaner, alternative source of energy. However, this does not take into account its entire life cycle. ‘Natural’ gas is fossil gas. Its production releases methane into the atmosphere, a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Methane emissions are caused by deliberate venting or flaring, as well as by leakage at all stages of production, storage, transport, and consumption. Liquified natural gas (LNG) involves an especially energy-intensive procedure, as the fossil fuel must be cooled to -160°C to reach its compressed and liquefied form. LNG can be shipped over long distances without pipelines–the tankers used for transport are in turn powered by gas or heavy oil.
Despite its de facto negative climate balance, fossil gas, like nuclear energy, was defined as sustainable by the European Commission at the beginning of 2022. This classification promotes investments in the expansion of climate-damaging fossil energy projects. In order to become less dependent on Russian gas supplies, Germany is now pushing ahead with the completion of import terminals in Wilhelmshaven, Brunsbüttel, and Stade to expand the supply of LNG in the mid-term. What places and lifeworlds lie on the other side of corporate fossil fuel supply chains?
In this panel discussion, common rhetoric around the topic of ‘natural’ gas – also with regard to the transition to fossil-free gases – will be critically examined with a particular focus on the production of unconventional gas, which forms an increasing share of total gas consumption. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is an energy-intensive technology that is extremely harmful to human and environmental health. It is banned in most parts of Europe. Still, the European economy benefits from the willingness of other nation-states and energy companies to exploit unconventional gas deposits while completely disregarding highly concerning consequences for land, water, and more-than-human communities in the vicinity. Unconventional gas extraction goes hand-in-hand with ongoing settler-colonial violence, as nation-states such as Australia and the US speculate on energy security concerns and potential export markets. In this panel, attention will be given to the expropriation and misuse of land and water, as corporate power and colonial continuities are confronted by sovereign Indigenous legal systems and calls for climate and environmental justice.