As the European Investment Bank prepares to vote next Feb 6 on a € 1.5bn loan to the western leg of the gas mega-pipeline (the Trans Adriatic Pipeline – TAP), a new NGO video presents the blatant contradictions of this EU-sponsored project locking us in a fossil-fuel future

What do Magritte’s famous painting from 1928 and a gas mega-corridor conceived in 2008 have in common? Well, to start with they were both conceptualized in Brussels and they are both about pipes, though of quite a different sort.

But there’s more than that, shows the new animation “This is not a pipe” launched today by Counter Balance. The video tells the story of the Southern Gas Corridor, a 3500km-long pipeline that would bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe, and thus allegedly “save” Europe, otherwise doomed to depend on “unreliable” Russia for its energy – as European politicians depict it. The billing of the project: more than 40 billion euros, of which up to 3 billion euros of EU tax payers’ money are to be channeled through the EU’s financial arm – the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Still, just as in Magritte’s painting at a first, superficial look the images are “treacherous” and the spectator risks being led to false conclusions, so would one be deceived by the standard political representation of the Southern Gas Corridor as a silver bullet for Europe’s energy needs. Scratching the surface, the EU brainchild raises many fundamental concerns while lying on big contradictions, as the video exposes.

Through a colorful sequence of illustrations combined with creative versions of some of the most renowned works of art ever – from a wind-powered Botticelli’s Birth of Venus to a Munch’s Scream even more horrified by the gas pipeline running next to him – the animation casts a doubt on one of the main arguments used to justify such an expensive project: “Europe needs it for its energy security”.

Reversing the logic behind it, the video shows how throwing our security in the arms of autocrats such as Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev and Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian Erdogan wouldn’t do us much good either, nor lead to better respect of human rights and democracy in those countries. But the ultimate paradox lies in the fact that there’s a concrete chance the Southern Gas Corridor ends up channeling Russian gas to Europe, as Gazprom repeated declarations of interest in a future use of the TAP confirmed.

And there’s even more. Considered that in the last few years the EU demand for gas has dropped while renewables have gotten more and more affordable, putting so much public money in such a huge fossil fuel infrastructure as the Southern Gas Corridor makes hardly any sense, both economically and for our climate. Indeed, moving away from fossil fuels should be now a primary objective for the EU, if it is to respect its commitment to the Paris Agreement and contribute to the urgent global fight against climate change. For this purpose, it is key that the EIB, as the EU’s bank, orients its funding choices accordingly.

In this respect, the video’s message couldn’t be more timely, given that on the occasion of the recent One Planet climate Summit in Paris, the bank was proud to present itself on the frontline of the world’s most committed green investors.

Xavier Sol, Counter Balance’s Director, said:

“Climaterhetoric aside, the votes on the loans to the Southern Gas Corridor – the first of which is coming up in the next EIB Board of Directors’ meeting on Feb 6 – are a concrete opportunity for the bank to translate its words into action. All the more as it will revise the criteria for its energy investments this year, and a decision to stop fossil fuel financing altogether would be the only reasonable move for the world’s biggest public lender and self-proclaimed climate champion.”

Watch the videohere & switch subtitles from the Settings into English, French, Spanish and Italian.

Teaser: here
French: here
Spanish: here
Italian: here