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Exit Spirit Energy

Say goodbye to gas and oil generation

Exit Spirit Energy: we called on the Munich utility company to say goodbye to its damaging oil and gas-fired business via its shares in the Spirit Energy company.

Like many municipal companies, the Munich utility company SWM, despite its green image campaign, has been embroiled in oil and gas business for years. The critical challenge – issued by Fossil Free and the Clean Energy for Munich network in particular, of which we are a part – addressed the issue of greenwashing and also informed the general public and the media, effectively persuading the Munich City Council – in the interests of their own credibility – to end the participation of the utility company in fossil-fuelled energy.

In 2019 the city of Munich declared a climate emergency and acknowledged the global climate crisis.

But at the same time, the capital city of Bavaria was directly and substantially involved in oil and gas exploration and generation until late 2021 via its subsidiary company Stadtwerke München GmbH (SWM). Its utility company (SWM) had a 31 % share in the Spirit Energy company, which had been exploring new sources of crude oil and gas in the North Sea and producing oil and gas itself. Up until this point, Spirit Energy had been a joint venture company with the British energy provider Centrica (69 %).

In 2018 Spirit Energy had produced 16 million barrels of crude oil and 186 billion cubic feet of natural gas. When fired, these release around 16 million tons of CO2 – far more than the total CO2 emissions of all sectors of the city of Munich put together! (In 2018, the equivalent of around 9 million tons of CO2).

The declaration of a climate emergency is not consistent with the city’s financial gain from its harmful oil and gas business.

Together with the Clean Energy for Munich network and Fossil Free Munich, we called on the city utility company to Exit Spirit Energy – and divest itself of fossil-fuel energy sources.

Using many different creative approaches, like the erection of a five-metre-high oil rig on the iconic Munich Marienplatz and a petition, over the years we called on SWM to abandon its climate-damaging business in oil and gas

In 2017 civilian voices lodged their first objections to the Energy Commission.

In December 2021 the utility company, or rather Spirit Energy, sold 92 % of its oil production and 38 % of its gas reserves This was a milestone success for us, which we put down to our long-standing opposition in collaboration with other grassroots organisations in Munich. However, this by no means marks the complete end of SWM’s fossil-fuel production – and even its supposed focus on so-called “blue” hydrogen with CO2 sequestration, about which even the Federal Environment Agency has expressed some extremely critical views, is a source of concern to us.

In short, we are persisting with the message that Exit Spirit Energy means saying goodbye to all fossil fuels.


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Exit Spirit Energy in the German press

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 8 December 2020:“Stadtwerke sollen raus aus Gas- und Ölgeschäft”

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 14 December 2020: “Abschied von der Bohrinsel”

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 15 December 2020: “Die Stadtwerke sind kein Symbol der Klimakrise”

Clean Energy for Munich network (Netzwerk Saubere Energie München): “Exit Spirit Energy! Raus aus Erdgas-& Erdölförderung”

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