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Vienna protests: 143 protestors detained at demonstration against European Gas Conference

Block Gas Alliance protestors at the European Gas Conference
Block Gas Alliance protestors at the European Gas Conference Copyright Block Gas Alliance / @block_gas
Copyright Block Gas Alliance / @block_gas
By Charlotte Elton with AP
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Environmental groups are protesting at the European Gas Conference to demand an end to fossil fuels.

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Police detained 143 people on Monday during a demonstration at meeting of oil and gas companies in Vienna.

Environmental groups gathered in the Austrian capital to protest the European Gas Conference. Hundreds of climate activists from groups including Fridays for Future took to the streets.

Police resorted to using pepper spray to break up the demonstration yesterday. Two officers were injured in the scuffles, AP reports, after protestors tried to break through a police cordon around a road blockade.

The Block Gas Coalition - the alliance behind the protest - denounced fossil fuel ‘profiteering’ and called for an accelerated green transition.

“The current push for gas is harmful to everyone except fossil fuel corporations,” they said in a statement.

“This leads to corporations profiting off our basic needs, all the while destroying our chances of remaining below the vital 1.5 degree limit of global heating.”

The mass protest followed a blockade of a nearby private jet terminal on Sunday.

Why are protestors demonstrating at the European Gas conference?

Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported that some protesters tried to block roads leading to the hotel where the three-day European Gas Conference is being held.

The conference - sponsored by Austrian energy giant OMV - is an opportunity for fossil fuel companies to meet with financial investors and political representatives.

The meeting will assess the state of the European gas market as sanctions against Russian imports continue to drive up energy prices worldwide.

Environmental activists criticised the conference participants for pursuing further natural gas projects amid strong demand and high prices due to the war in Ukraine.

In 2022, governments spent a record-breaking €900 billion on fossil fuel subsidies.

Jasmin Duregger of the group Greenpeace accused gas companies at the conference of promoting their business at the expense of the climate "under the cover of energy security."

What other protests are planned?

The Block Gas alliance thanked supporters for a “tough but successful” day on Monday. 

On Tuesday morning, around 300 people blocked roads around the OMV gas refinery.

“OMV is the sponsor of the #EuropeanGasConference. We demand the expropriation of fossil corporations. Energy belongs in the people's hands!,” Block Gas organisers tweeted.

The conference will run until tomorrow. Further disruption is planned on Wednesday, but plans have not yet been publicly revealed.

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