Extreme weather, floods, soil erosion, rising fuel and energy bills and rising prices for basic necessities. Our dependence on fossil fuels is taking its toll, to say the least. Oil, gas and coal are directly implicated in human rights abuses in the South and fuels numerous conflicts and wars around the world.
The climate, energy, social and economic crisis is driving the working and middle classes into poverty. The most vulnerable become even poorer because of huge energy bills. Meanwhile, big fossil companies like TotalEnergies make enormous profits. These multinationals are key players in the history of the current climate crisis. This history is one of land grabbing, persecution and colonialism. For years, they have worked to influence our societies with their poisonous green propaganda and crony capitalism. Their climate-destroying actions are even rewarded by our politicians through financial bonuses and various subsidies. The workers in this sector, who depend on their jobs for income, are kept in the dark about their future.
Time is running out and the challenge is enormous, but a viable future is still possible. That is what we are fighting for. For a society where the big polluters are held accountable for their actions, where everyone has fair access to energy and where citizens and workers are supported to move away from fossil fuels. A society that relies on renewable energy, combats pollution, makes us independent from dubious regimes and creates more peace. A society where the climate transition is not made on the back of the working class and with opportunities for paid work for all. A society with a better distribution of wealth, fundamental rights for all, lower energy bills, a better quality of life and a good future for our children.
Engie is poisoning the climate
The company is planning to build up to three new fossil gas power plants in Belgium, even though climate scientists are clear that there is no room for new fossil infrastructure. Taking into account the entire chain of production, gas is just as polluting as coal, while its extraction worldwide has led to the destruction of biodiversity and serious human rights violations, especially in Latin American and African countries. We call for a ban on all fossil fuels.
Climate change is certainly not the only problem. Global water health, food security, eroding of democracy, armed conflicts, and the crossing of several planetary boundaries are at stake. By 2035, all electricity in Europe will have to be produced without fossil fuels if climate targets are to be met, which would prevent devastation. Currently, only one third of Europe’s electricity is renewable. Building new power plants today that will continue to burn fossil gas until 2050 is a conscious decision to make our planet unlivable. All the investments we make now must be devoted to energy saving and locally produced renewable energies, not to the development of fossil fuels.
Engie is lining their pockets with our money
In the midst of the energy crisis, the French company has paid 3.4 billion in dividends to its shareholders in 2022! Meanwhile, a huge number of people were living in the cold and fearing that they wouldn’t be able to pay their astronomical bills. On top of that, the company not only benefit from public subsidies and premiums that allow them to pay the bills, but they also receive subsidies to build their gas-powered power plant in Flémalle, which is disastrous for the climate. We demand affordable energy for all.
Engie’s shareholders have won the jackpot. The multinational company has pledged to return 65% of their profits to shareholders under any circumstances. We, the citizens, on the other hand, have to pay the bill for failed energy policies five times over: first, through the energy bill we receive in our mailboxes. Second, through the public subsidies granted during the crisis to Engie to pay for overbilling, subsidies amounting to 3.5 billion euros for the year 2022 alone. Third, we are paying for the subsidies for the construction of the new fossil gas power plants (1 billion euros in total, shared between Engie and Luminus). Fourth, we will soon have to pay for the shared operation of Engie’s nuclear power plants and for the storage of radioactive nuclear waste. Finally, the costs of environmental destruction and climate change – adaptation costs, additional health costs, etc – will also come out of our wallets, here but first and foremost in the countries that are victims of Engie’s neo-colonial policy.
Engie puts lives at risk
The company keeps largely obsolete nuclear reactors in operation, and passes on the problem of radioactive nuclear waste to future generations, which remains dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. The consequences of a nuclear accident in Doel or Tihange, in the middle of densely populated areas, would be catastrophic. Nuclear power is the most expensive way to produce electricity and makes us dependent on countries with dictatorial political regimes as well as fuelling a neo-colonial industry to source uranium and other materials. We demand safe energy without dictators.
The nuclear power plants of Tihange and Doel were built in the 1980s and are now completely obsolete. By keeping the reactors operational longer, the government and Engie are playing with the lives of millions of Belgians living in Antwerp, Liège and other densely populated areas, in the shadow of the nuclear plants. Fukushima, Chernobyl and Zaporijia show that nuclear power plants are never 100% safe. Moreover, protecting nuclear power plants requires a country to have a large military apparatus. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of years of radioactive waste for which there is no solution. We are leaving this heavy legacy to future generations. If you include all the costs of safety, decommissioning and storage of nuclear waste, it is the most expensive energy of all.
Nuclear power is the opposite of locally produced, cheap energy over which citizens have a say. Uranium – which is a finite resource – comes mainly from dictatorships like Russia and Kazakhstan. The fuels used by Engie to produce electricity come from repressive regimes such as Qatar and Kazakhstan, which reinforce their dominance through revenues from the extractivist economy. Engie even contributes to Russia’s war chest by using Russian uranium in its nuclear power plants.
Engie blocks the energy revolution
Less energy for rich, polluting consumers and enough clean energy for what really matters to us: everyday life, public transport, sustainable agriculture, healthcare, and other essential public sectors. This is the recipe for the energy revolution we want to see. Engie relies on dirty energy sources and wants to continue to increase their production capacity ad infinitum, including with fossil fuels. Engie, who can never have enough, is blocking the energy revolution.We want an energy system that is no longer owned by multinationals but democratically managed. One in which, there is enough clean energy for everyone, and where the over-consumption of the rich and highly-polluting industriesaredrastically reduced.
We can do without new gas and nuclear power plants if we distribute the available energy more fairly, while reducing polluting activities and over-consumption. The Belgian industrial sector accounts for almost half of our energy consumption. These are companies whose production often goes far beyond the limits of our planet. Some of this production will have to be stopped, after a democratic consideration of collective social interests. As a publically listed company, Engie has no interest in the necessary reduction of energy consumption. Worse still, the more energy is consumed, the more profit the company makes. This is exactly why Engie has no place in the future energy system.
Bye bye Engie
Clean, cheap, and reliable energy is not a luxury; it is a basic need! Energy is too important of a common good to be left to shareholders and speculators. We want the energy sector to be taken out of private ownership and democratically-managed by energy users and employees.Only then can we regain control of energy production and distribution and meet the needs of all in a fair and sustainable way, while preparing for resource scarcity. The system of capitalist overproduction and the waste that accompanies it must end. We must produce and consume for the needs of all, not for the profits of a few. With this action, we announce the end of Engie! We need a just retraining plan for the workers of Engie and other polluting industries, driven by trade unions and workers. We need meaningful jobs in a decarbonised economy.