Put the Planet before Profit: Stop fossil fuel exploration off Ireland’s shores

Climate change is a real threat to our health, environment and society. Unpredictable weather patterns are devastating societies across the globe, with no country left unaffected. CO2 levels are high; too high to prevent some biodiversity loss, but still low enough that immediate action, taken at national and international levels, can ameliorate the damage.

Socialist Worker

Put the Planet before Profit:  Stop fossil fuel exploration off Ireland’s shores


 Linda Kehoe

While the USA under Trump withdraws from the Paris agreement and opens its shores to fossil fuel exploration in wanton disregard for the environment and future generations, three countries have paved the way in the right direction. Costa Rica, France and Belize will no longer allow fossil fuel exploration and PBP want Ireland to be next on this list.

On February 7th Brid Smith TD will introduce The Climate Emergency Measures Bill in the Dáil: a bill that if passed will stop any further exploration for oil, coal or gas in Ireland, and go a long way towards promoting Ireland as an environmentally conscious and responsible nation.

Thanks to successive Fianna Fail and Fine Gael led governments Ireland is not on track to reach our agreed target of an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. Through poor transport, agriculture and energy policies we are instead increasing our emissions year-on-year. The government is awash with contradictions; continuing to burn coal and peat when studies have shown that we could transition to a system of 100% renewable energy without increasing the production costs. Banning fracking onshore (after huge public pressure and civic movements) but still allowing it a few hundred metres offshore. Passing this bill will stop that hypocrisy.

The seismic surveys used to find fossil fuels reserves offshore interfere with whales and dolphins ability to echolocate and devastate zooplankton levels (key species in the ocean food chain). When found the fuels have to be extracted, transported and refined for sale and use. Each step in the process damages the environment further, and then we burn the products in our cars and factories. Oil drilling is risky, unsustainable and dirty and thus directly contradicts the SEAI strategy which “envisions an Ireland where energy is sustainable, secure and clean”

At current, unsustainably-high usage levels the world’s known fossil fuel reserves will last another 50 years or so, but to prevent disasterous climate change experts say that 80% of this needs to remain in the ground. We committed to reduce our usage by 80% in the next 30years. Growth in the fossil fuel sector won’t provide much State revenue (thanks again to our successive governments), won’t provide stable or sustainable jobs and isn’t favoured by the public ( proven by the anti-fracking lobby groups). It will damage our ecosystems, tourism, fish stocks and health and throw us miles wide of our emissions targets. Exploring our oceans for more reserves simply doesnt make sense.

Unless of course, you are looking for a quick profit. Oil prices are now at their highest for 3 years and greedy corporations want to cash in. Globally drillers have stepped up their output, and here in Ireland 90% of companies in the sector are “optimistic of finding deposits to profitably extract”.

They are waiting eagerly for the government to grant the next round of licences to explore our seabed. Providence Resources got a swathe of these licenses over the last few years; some they acted on (and failed to find oil) and some they sold for profit to French Oil giant Total. When, not if,  these companies do find large reserves, their exploitation will gaurantee we overshoot our national quota of 1 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. It will make them a fortune, and cost us the earth.

Stop the hypocrisy, Stop their reckless endangerment of our environment, Support the Climate Emergency Measures Bill on the 7th!

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