Keep It In The Ground: Climate Change And The Fight Against The Fossil Fuel Industry.

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Keep it in the Ground; Climate Change and the fight against the fossil fuel industry.

Support the Climate Emergency Measures Bill.

The Government and the fossil fuel industry have launched an attack on a People before Profit Bill that would ban exploration for fossil fuels in Ireland. They have even got PWC to produce a report warning of the dire consequences if we ban fossil fuel exploration.

Globally we need to stop looking for new forms of fossil fuels immediately and switch to renewables to reduce our Co2 emissions. According to the IPCC report we have just 12 years to make that move and head of temperature increases below 2 degrees. This is a death sentence for large parts of the planet, its people and all biodiversity. Co2 levels, mostly from the buring of fossil fuels,have not been this high in over 15 million years and are driving global temperature increases, extreme weather events and mass species extinction.

According to scientists we need to leave 80% of already proven reserves of oil gas and coal in the ground.

The fossil fuel industry and companies like Providence and Petrel resources don’t care about the science or the impacts of climate change.

All that matters to them is the potential profits they can earn by exploring and speculating of future profits. Shamefully the Government here is supporting the industry in searching for more oil and gas in Irish waters. The People before Profit bill would stop this and make Ireland the fifth country in the world to introduce such a ban.

The bill could become law before Xmas as it has enough support in the Dail to overcome Government opposition.

This is why the industry and Government are reacting furiously to it. RTE have given David Horgan of Petrel Resources air time to attack the bill and People before Profit. Government minister Sean Canney has told a gathering of business interests that the government will continue supporting the industry regardless of the bill. Various newspapers and commentators have attacked the bill .The Government even commissioned a report that suggests the bill would costs the economy over 1 billion euro!. This figure is pure fantasy and based on pretending that oil and gas might be abundant in the oceans and could lead to great riches in the future.

Additionally PWC (Price Waterhouse Cooper) have produced a report to back up the Government and industry. The big accountancy firm gets huge Government contracts for “Independent” reports that always back up the case for privatisation or support business and Government policy. The same company gave clean bills of health in reports on Bank of Ireland, AIB and Bank of Scotland before the banking crisis. Bank of Ireland paid them 8 million euro in 2008 just before the banking crisis, but the company didn’t spot the looming crisis or the dodgy practices the bank where engaged in.

The reality is far from the picture painted in either report. In reality Ireland gives its resources away to big business. The state doesn’t get any royalties for oil or gas finds and companies can claim tax rebates on the costs of any exploration if they do make a commercial find.

The Government research took no account of the very real costs to Ireland of supporting the exploration industry. Seismic drilling destroys marine environments, kills plankton in a wide area around the drilling and may be responsible for killing dolphins and whales. The Government even funds University scholarships for the oil industry to the tune of 250,000 euro since 2007!

Additionally the state could face EU fines of over 500 million euro a year from 2020 as a result of its utter failure to limit Co2 emissions. The exploration industry is based on speculation and international finance and not on any concern for the future of the planet or the need to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

Brid Smith , who introduced the bill said  “We are determined to get this bill passed and send a signal to the fossil fuel industry that the game is up, we have a choice between the profits of big business and the future of our planet. We need laws like this and a mass movement that can force real change in society, both challenging the rule of fossil fuel companies and make sure we get real investment in public transport, renewables and retro fitting our buildings. This is just the start of the biggest fight we face today”

Who are the exploration companies trying to stop this Bill?

Among the companies fighting the bill are:

Providence Resources:

 CEO Tony O’Reilly  Jn (son of Tony O’Reilly, formerly Ireland’s wealthiest man). The company have exploration licences for large areas of Ireland’s territorial waters. It makes its money by talking up the chances of finding oil and gas. Most of its claims turn out to be nonsense but it can still make huge profits by pure speculation. They have made various outlandish claims on how many jobs it can create and how much wealth could be generated. They have partnerships in some licences with Exon Mobile ( one of the world’s biggest oil companies who have lied about the impacts of climate change) and ENI , the Italian Oil company who were involved in a corruption scandal over payments to a Nigerian minister as well as  a huge oil spill in the Niger delta.

Petrel Resources:

Managing Director David Horgan has been the public face of the corporate attack on the bill. Petrel is owned by John Teeling who also owns the Teelings whiskey company as well as Diamond mines in South Africa. The firm have interest in fossil fuels in the middle East and Africa.  Horgan has claimed that stopping exploration would mean Ireland would rely on Russian gas and unstable imports of oil and gas from abroad. He claims the state’s energy security would rely on someone like Putin. But Horgan and Petrel resources have no problem trying to do deals with Gazprom to build huge gas terminals in the Crimea.

The pursuit of profit will trump all concerns for Petrel, Providence and other oil and gas companies.