Ireland Can Be A Beacon To The World By Passing People Before Profit Climate Emergency Bill, Press Conference Hears

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Fossil Fuels must be kept in the ground to avoid environmental catastrophe, yet Irish government blocks Bill

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith, author of the Climate Emergency Bill, has said that Ireland could be a beacon to the world if the Dáil were to pass her bill which would ban the issuing of further licences for fossil fuel extraction.

The TD for Dublin South Central has called on the Fine Gael government to withdraw from blocking the Bill which is being, once again held hostage by procedural trickery, and said that it should go to the Oireachtas Select Committee where it could be debated and scrutinised by all parties.

Deputy Smith has said that she will question Minister Canney on the reasons his Government blocking her climate Emergency Measures bill again. The Bill should have been before a select committee in the Dáil tomorrow but has been blocked by a last minute Government demand that it needs a “money message”. This is a mechanism to stop opposition bills when the government claim it will result in a claim on public monies.

She said: “The time for messing around is over. Time is running out and we have 11 years to radically change our system to avoid being locked into evermore increasing atmospheric temperatures which would have catastrophic consequences for the planet and ecosystems.

“Fine Gael, despite their PR machine trying to present them as environmentally aware, are doing everything in their power, and in most cases by underhanded means, to scupper the Climate Emergency Bill which would deliver the fundamental demand of the environmental movement across the world- Keep fossil fuels in the ground.

“Fine Gael have patted the backs of the School Climate Strikers and told them how great they are and that the government is listening. If ever there was an example of blatant greenwashing this is it.

“Fine Gael is beholden to the fossil fuel lobby and corporations and is failing to protect our environment or to address our carbon emissions which are going through the roof and will miss the binding targets we have been set for 2020 and beyond.

“Ireland can be a beacon to the world. We have an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and say we are turning off the tap for fossil fuel extraction.

“For this bill to pass it would take a mass movement of everyone who understands that we have to stop drilling for more fossil fuels. We have to take this issue out of the hands of the environmental saboteurs- Fine Gael and their buddies in the fossil fuel industry.

“We intend to show the Government that the growing movement will hold them to account and expose how every one of their arguments against this bill is bogus and fake. Their position is dictated to by the fossil fuel industry, not by concerns on energy security or reducing our emissions.”

Joining Deputy Smith on the panel was Icelandic MP, Andrés Ingi Jónsson.  Earlier this year he introduced a bill in the Icelandic parliament to put a stop to possible fossil fuel extraction in Icelandic waters. Researching for that bill made him aware of Deputy Smith’s bill and as a result his bill employs the same methodology as the Climate Emergency Measures Bill- proof that other countries are looking at what we in Ireland are doing.

He said: “It’s been inspiring to see Ireland respond to the call of the times and declare a climate emergency. But such a declaration has to translate into concrete action. The Bill is just that – a simple recognition of the fact that fossil fuel extraction is a thing of the past, not something for the future. By putting a stop on fossil fuel extraction, Ireland would give a clear signal that it wants to step towards a green future.”

Greg MuttittResearch Director of Oil Change International, who has recently produced a report showing that gas is not a transition fuel, said: “The world already has too much oil, gas and coal; if all burned it would lead to a breakdown of natural systems. That is why countries that are serious about the climate emergency are stopping new oil and gas development. We hope Ireland will join them by passing this Bill.

“The atmosphere cannot handle more carbon dioxide from any source, and that includes gas as well as coal and oil. Gas is neither clean, cheap nor necessary. Renewable energy is cheaper and better matched with storage and other grid technologies rather than gas or any other fossil fuel.”

Environmental journalist and activist, John Gibbons, said: “The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that only a third of already discovered fossil fuel reserves can ever be burned if climate collapse is to be avoided. In the light of this fact, it makes no sense whatever for Ireland to be continuing to issue fossil exploration licences. The fact that we are still involved in this business is, I believe, actively hampering the clean energy revolution that needs to urgently happen in Ireland.

“For Richard Bruton’s ‘Climate Action’ department to today describe oil as: ‘at the core of societal and economic well-being’ suggests an antediluvian mindset among his senior officials. The Irish Government recently declared a Climate Emergency; it is time we began to act as we would in an emergency. We need to be more mindful of our duty of care to all future generations than simply looking after energy company financial interests.”

Green Party Deputy Leader Catherine Martin TD said: “If the Government is serious about climate action it needs to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The Taoiseach said that the climate emergency declaration was symbolic in the Dáil – the continued issuing of licences is symbolic of Fine Gael’s total failure to comprehend the reality of a climate emergency.”