European Gas Conference in Vienna Postponed due to Protests

PeopleOther ♦ Published: March 14, 2024; 18:47 ♦ (Vindobona)

The European Gas Conference planned for March 26-28 in Vienna is no longer on the international energy industry's calendar. Security concerns caused by announced protests forced the organizers to postpone the event indefinitely.

In its 17th year, the European Gas Conference should gather executives, government officials, and international business leaders to discuss key developments in the global natural gas industry. / Picture: © Verbund AG

This was confirmed by a spokesperson for the organizer Energy Council, as reported by ORF. The decision follows detailed information from security teams and the local police about planned activities by protest groups that could potentially endanger the well-being of participants.

The environmental protection organization Greenpeace and the globalization-critical network Attac reacted promptly and described the move as a success for the climate movement. Both organizations accused the organizers of trying to criminalize legitimate protest and called for the conference to be canceled once and for all. This criticism is also echoed by the BlockGas action alliance, whose spokesperson, Amina Guggenbichler, emphasized that the climate crisis cannot be ignored by avoiding protests.

The tensions between climate activists and the fossil fuel industry are not new. Just last year, a spontaneous protest march formed in Vienna, which culminated in violent clashes with the police. The police used pepper spray and batons, which led to the provisional arrest of 165 people. These incidents were criticized by Amnesty International and the charges brought against the activists were ultimately dropped by the Vienna public prosecutor's office.

In the meantime, resistance to the controversial event is forming at an alternative level. Attac and other organizations of the climate justice movement are inviting people to a public counter-conference, the People's Summit against European Gas Conference. This will take place from March 22 to 24 at the Atelierhaus of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and will be rounded off with an international press conference on March 25.

The postponement of the European Gas Conference highlights the growing divide between the fossil fuel industry and the global movement for climate justice. While some want to continue negotiating behind closed doors, others are calling loudly for a move away from fossil fuels and towards more sustainable energy solutions.

Energy Council