How the liquid gasoline {industry} vowed to weaken EU local weather plans

Liquid gasoline corporations are casting themselves as champions of rural communities in a bid to weaken proposals to slash the carbon emissions produced by heating Europe’s buildings, in response to dozens of lobbyist emails seen by DeSmog

On 14 March, members of the European Parliament accepted a revised model of a key piece of local weather laws often known as the Vitality Efficiency of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which governs insulation and different requirements for residential and business property. 

Drafted as a part of the EU’s goal to chop its emissions by 55 % by 2030, the proposals intention to deal with the third of the bloc’s emissions generated by heating its buildings. The objective is to spark a wave of renovations of poorly insulated properties; phase-out new gasoline boilers; and speed up the uptake of warmth pumps and photo voltaic panels.

However the directive is dealing with concerted opposition from a department of the fossil gas {industry} that receives comparatively little scrutiny: Suppliers of liquefied petroleum gasoline, or LPG, who see the proposed boiler phase-out as an existential menace to their $40 billion enterprise.

“We imagine that the appropriate strategy for customers dwelling in rural areas, that are extra weak and extra susceptible to power poverty is technological neutrality,” Liquid Fuel Europe, an {industry} physique, wrote in an e mail to MEPs in February. “Solely such an strategy can be certain that rural and off-grid areas will not be left behind within the decarbonisation course of.”

In use for practically a century, LPG is a mainstay for powering boilers utilized by about 17 million individuals dwelling within the EU, together with rural components of Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Poland and different areas that haven’t been related to the gasoline grid. 

Produced utilizing the butane and propane derived as a by-product of oil refining, LPG is used to warmth about 4 % of Europe’s 197 million properties, in response to Liquid Fuel Europe. Usually billed as a “clear” gas as a result of it burns cleaner than the coal or heating oil additionally utilized in rural areas, LPG however produces appreciable quantities of planet-warming carbon dioxide.

Although LPG is utilized in a selected kind of boiler that isn’t straight threatened by the directive, suppliers and distributors concern a moratorium on the sale of standard boilers will undercut prospects for growing a brand new era of “renewable” gases produced from farm waste, natural matter, hydrogen and different sources. 

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With the EU dedicated to attaining web zero emissions by 2050, LPG corporations are banking on speedy development on this nonetheless tiny market to outlive. Liquid gasoline lobbyists are subsequently pushing for loopholes within the buildings directive that might allow the continued sale of recent gasoline boilers – offered they’re tailored to additionally run on “renewable” gases and hydrogen, in response to the emails seen by DeSmog.

“The gasoline boiler is our livelihood – if it will get banned, now we have an actual drawback,” Henry Cubbon,  LPG president at U.S. gas distributor Propane DCC, informed the LPG Congress {industry} convention in Barcelona final June. “We’re doing lots of work with regulators to see if we will place the gasoline boiler as a heating supply of the long run, powered by renewable gasoline.” Cubbon didn’t reply to DeSmog’s request for remark.

Given the large quantity of land and different assets that might be required to provide “renewable” gases at scale, power consultants query whether or not such fuels can ever be a cost-effective resolution for protecting tens of millions of properties heat. The Paris-based Worldwide Vitality Company says warmth pumps powered by renewables are the most affordable and most effective option to decarbonise dwelling heating.

With hovering power costs spiking larger within the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the warmth pump sector says the LPG {industry}’s makes an attempt to place itself as protector of the agricultural poor dangers hitting the wallets of the very individuals it claims to symbolize.

“These gasoline teams will not be being truthful to society,” Thomas Nowak, secretary normal of the European Warmth Pump Affiliation, an {industry} physique, informed DeSmog. “These teams are saying that we will’t present low-income rural households with higher high quality heating, however that they’ve to stay with grossly inefficient fossil gas boilers. It’s shameless.”

The vote on the directive will formalise the European Parliament’s place forward of closed-door negotiations between the Parliament, European Council and European Fee, with a ultimate model anticipated to be agreed within the early summer season.

Liquid Fuel Europe informed DeSmog that it needed the revised buildings directive to retain the choice for a “comparatively small proportion” of EU buildings to have the ability to make use of “renewable” gases – if desired by the constructing proprietor or occupier – and the place different options will not be technically or economically possible.

“The European Liquid Fuel {industry}, represented in Brussels by Liquid Fuel Europe, totally helps the EU goal of web zero emissions by 2050 and to this finish our {industry} is investing within the improvement of renewable liquid gasoline replacements for conventional LPG,” the group mentioned.

United Entrance 

Because the proposed revisions to the buildings directive had been unveiled by the European Fee in December, 2021, LPG foyer teams have cast a united entrance with opponents within the pure gasoline, hydrogen and biogas industries to push for a raft of amendments. 

“Teaming up with the biogas and pure gasoline associations, beforehand opponents, is a method to make sure the LPG sector is heard in Brussels”,” Bram Gräber, the chief govt of Netherlands-based SHV Vitality, a significant liquid gasoline distributor, informed the LPG Congress, Argus media reported.

A SHV Vitality spokesperson mentioned “a variety of electrical energy and gaseous options” had been required for the “defossilisation” of heating. 

Portraying the LPG {industry} as vital to the supply of inexpensive heating to under-served rural areas has been central to the {industry}’s lobbying technique. 

Final 12 months, Liquid Fuel Europe launched a marketing campaign referred to as Rural Futures geared toward championing the function LPG performs in heating rural properties. That includes imagery of snow-dashed Alpine mountains and idyllic lakes, the marketing campaign web site urges law-makers to keep away from a ban on boilers and embrace “renewable gases” within the definition of a “zero-emission” constructing.

In June, an analogous industry-backed marketing campaign referred to as the Way forward for Rural Vitality in Europe wrote to MEPs to argue that “rural households are susceptible to being left behind” by the proposed constructing revisions. 

4 months later, Rural Futures staged a webinar inviting mayors to debate how the buildings directive may tackle “the distinctive wants” of rural communities. The group requested mayors to signal a place assertion arguing that no person must be “left behind” on the trail to web zero.

Liquid Fuel Europe declined to say what number of mayors had signed the petition, referring DeSmog to a 2021 survey by the Way forward for Rural Vitality in Europe, which had discovered that 75 % of respondents had been “glad” with their current heating programs.

“We believed that the directive was too centered on cities and risked leaving rural areas behind,” Ewa Abramiuk-Lété, normal supervisor of Liquid Fuel Europe, informed DeSmog in an emailed assertion.

With the prices of renewables and warmth pumps falling quick, power poverty campaigners argue that the {industry}’s declare to be defending the pursuits’ of rural homeowners is self-serving. 

“It’s one large greenwashing technique,” mentioned Josh Roberts, senior coverage advisor at, a European federation of citizen power cooperatives based mostly in Belgium. “This can be a advertising tactic, it’s propaganda.”

‘Extra Fossil Fuels’

Whereas lobbyists despatched dozens of emails to MEPs, the {industry} has additionally pressed its arguments at closed-door occasions within the run-up to the vote on the buildings directive.

In September, the conservative-leaning European Vitality Discussion board hosted a dinner in Strasbourg, the place the European Parliament sits. Chaired by the discussion board’s director, former Polish prime minister and MEP Jerzy Buzek, the gathering was billed as an opportunity to debate the decarbonization of the EU’s constructing inventory “from various angles”. 

Some 50 lobbyists from liquid gasoline teams from throughout Europe dominated the visitor record on the prawn cocktail and roast beef dinner, in response to one participant. Representatives from hosts SHV Vitality, French electrical energy utility UFE, Finnish Vitality and French LPG provider Primagaz addressed the gathering. 

“Now you see what we’re up in opposition to,” mentioned the participant, who declined to be named. 

The LPG {industry}’s push to win a reprieve for gasoline boilers parallels lobbying by Europe’s gasoline grid operators and hydrogen commerce our bodies. On February 6, Fuel Distributors 4 Sustainability, a Brussels-based group representing members in eight international locations, tweeted a message forward of a vote on the buildings directive by the European Parliament’s {industry} committee.

“The #EPBD should help the deployment of all #renewable prepared applied sciences & cost-efficient #constructing renovation actions to make sure quick, accessible & inexpensive heating options for all Europeans,” the tweet mentioned.

Morgane Goret-Le Guen, senior EU coverage officer at Fuel Distributors 4 Sustainability, mentioned the group coordinate with Liquid Fuel Europe and different commerce associations who imagine that every one options shall be wanted to cut back emissions in a “quick and inexpensive approach.”

“That is essential to make sure that our goals are met on time and that the power transition is a good one, that doesn’t depart any nation, any shopper, or any citizen behind,” Goret-Le Guen mentioned. 

On February 28, Liquid Fuel Europe tweeted a hyperlink to its Rural Futures marketing campaign. 

“It’s time to acknowledge the particular wants of 137 million individuals dwelling in #RuralAreas.

They face an elevated danger of transport and #EnergyPoverty. Let’s be certain that #RuralFutures are prioritized in a simply #EnergyTransition”.

Silvia Pastorelli, Greenpeace EU local weather and power campaigner, mentioned the LPG {industry} felt more and more threatened by surging gross sales for warmth pumps and rooftop photo voltaic.

“The gasoline foyer is barely actually attempting to guard its personal backside line when it fakes concern for rural communities and exploits individuals’s real fears about power poverty,” she mentioned. “It doesn’t matter what the issue is, their reply is at all times the identical: extra fossil fuels.”


Searching for to counter such criticism, Liquid Fuel Europe says the continent has seen exponential development within the “renewable” gases developed by the {industry} in recent times. The LPG {industry} is value $39.3 billion in Europe, in response to figures shared by the World LPG Affiliation with DeSmog. The true determine is known to be double that, as soon as all related prices of transport, insurance coverage and dealing with are factored in.

Dutch liquid gasoline distributor SHV Vitality informed DeSmog that it plans to convey its first business waste-to-energy plant on-line in Teesside, UK, inside the subsequent two years. 

The liquid gasoline {industry} has positioned specific religion in a gas often known as ‘bioLPG’ –  which is chemically equivalent to LPG, however produced from renewable plant and vegetable waste.

Vitality modelers are sceptical whether or not such fuels could be scaled, nevertheless, given the quantity of land they require. Europe’s present annual manufacturing of 200,000 tonnes of bioLPG is equal to about 0.6 % of the 33.6 million tonnes of LPG produced globally. 

“BioLPG is principally a make-believe,” mentioned Davide Sabbadin, deputy coverage supervisor for local weather, and lead on fossil gas boilers, on the Brussels-based European Environmental Bureau community of environmental teams. “It doesn’t actually exist available in the market, it’s a ridiculously small proportion in comparison with what could be wanted to warmth properties.” 

With the LPG {industry} preventing to outlive, the promise that the {industry} may finally transition away from fossil gas fuels dangers delaying the deployment of extra life like choices to decarbonise dwelling heating, coverage specialists warn.

“I don’t assume it stops electrification and warmth pumps being rolled out, it simply delays them, and causes confusion among the many public,” mentioned Richard Lowes, heating expertise specialist on the Regulatory Help Challenge, a nonprofit grouping of unpolluted transition consultants. “It’s all that time and money being wasted.”

Enhancing by Matthew Inexperienced
👉 Authentic article on DeSmog. A model of this text additionally appeared in The Guardian
This story is a part of a DeSmog sequence on the affect wielded by the gasoline foyer in Europe and was developed with the help of

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