The price of energy is influenced by multiple factors in addition to what it costs to produce and transport it. One of those that does not appear on the bill but that citizens also pay out of pocket is the price of military operations whose mission is that politically unstable countries do not stop the production and shipment of fossil fuels on which Spain and Europe are dependent. .
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Among the official reasons why there are Spanish soldiers deployed in the waters of the Horn of Africa, in Mali or in Somalia are the fight against terrorism or piracy, but not that they are reinforcing key points of the oil and gas supply routes towards Europe. “EU member states are experts in hiding the billions of euros they spend on providing military protection for fossil fuels,” denounces a new Greenpeace report to which elDiario.es has had access.
Almost 90% of the oil and 70% of the natural gas used in Europe are imported from abroad. “Although oil and gas are ruining the climate,” recalls the NGO, “almost two-thirds of all EU military missions monitor and ensure the production and transport of oil and gas.” Since 2018, Italy, Spain and Germany have invested more than 4,000 million euros in this type of operations abroad, the investigation documents. Of that figure, 1,022 million correspond to Spain.
Currently Spain participates in 16 international military missions, all within the scope of the EU or NATO. In this year’s budget, around 1 billion euros have been earmarked to cover these deployments. Of them, 26%, about 274 million, are linked to protecting the routes of arrival of fossil fuels from unstable countries or helping to train their military to do so, denounces Greenpeace.
elDiario.es has asked the Ministry of Defense about the NGO report, but has received no response before its publication. From the environmental organization they reveal that they have tried to use the transparency law so that the department led by Margarita Robles reports on the links between the international missions in which Spain participates and the fossil fuel routes. Defense has refused, claiming they include “national security” data.
However, some military officers and high command have recognized that ensuring the supply of fossil fuels is an important part of their role. The anti-piracy missions to defend oil or gas tankers are an example of this: “The Spanish presence in the Gulf of Guinea follows the traditional lines of our country’s strategy to guarantee the security of supply of raw materials and energy products”, explained José Luis Calvo, director of the Security and Studies Division of the Ministry of Defense.
Our aim is to secure our own interests in fishing, energy transport and the transport of other goods.
Lieutenant Commander of the mission in West Africa
The report includes several statements of this style, such as those of Lieutenant Commander Santiago Santamaría on the mission in West Africa: “Our objective is to contribute to increasing maritime safety in the areas through which we transit and to ensure our own interests in fishing, the transport of energy and the transport of other goods “.
In other missions, such as Sophia, carried out in Mediterranean waters, this task was performed on a secondary basis. Active until March 2020, its main task was to combat human smuggling networks, train the Libyan coast guard and enforce the UN arms embargo. However, “it also had the secondary task of stopping oil smuggling, which officially links the mission to the protection of fossil fuels,” Greenpeace notes. Libya is a strategic supplier for Spain and for Repsol.
“Our report shows how greed for oil has led Europe to develop an entire weapons system to protect oil and gas at the expense of people and the planet,” denounces the NGO. “The way the industry gets away with it is by injecting millions into manipulative propaganda,” says Silvia Pastorelli, head of Greenpeace’s climate and energy campaign.
Military to bring oil and gas, military for climate catastrophes
The environmental organization highlights that European states spend billions on military missions motivated, totally or partially, by the need to ensure the supply of the fossil fuels on which they are dependent. However, they must then send those same soldiers to mitigate the effects of natural disasters associated with climate change.
“This same year, the governments of the EU have deployed soldiers and military equipment in response to emergencies such as the severe floods in Germany, the storm Filomena in Spain or the great fires in southern Italy”, recalls Javier Gª. Raboso, responsible for the Peace campaign of Greenpeace Spain. “At the same time, more soldiers were dispatched and millions of euros were invested to provide security for ships laden with fossil fuels that will continue to exacerbate the climate crisis that has already caused so much devastation,” he adds.
The report on European spending aimed at militarizing fossil fuel supply routes highlights that such investment could go towards promoting the circular economy and research into new forms of clean energy. In this sense, Greenpeace promotes a European Citizens’ Initiative to promote a law that prohibits the advertising and sponsorship of fossil fuels in the EU. If one million EU citizens sign the petition, the European Commission will have to consider presenting a new law.