January 23rd, 2019
An Icelandic politician has introduced a Bill to limit future fossil fuel exploration inspired by Irish legislation currently held up in limbo with the climate action and environment committee.
Andrés Ingi Jónsson of the Left-Green Movement in the Nordic state yesterday introduced his Bill that would limit any application for oil and gas exploration licences unless the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are below 350 parts per million in the preceding 12 months.
Climate scientists argue that we need to keep this level below 350ppm to sustain life on earth as we know it. The latest data indicates that concentrations reached 410ppm in November 2018, with no sign of a reversal in sight according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Mr Jónsson said that his Bill is inspired by Brid Smith’s Climate Emergency Measures Bill that similarly calls for no licence to be granted if, on the date of the application, CO2 concentrations are above 350ppm.
In an email sent to the People Before Profit deputy this week, Mr Jónsson said that he found her approach to be an “incredibly simple yet effective way to put ‘keep it in the ground’ into legislation”.
Ms Smith’s piece of legislation, first introduced over a year ago, is currently tied up with the Joint Committee on Climate Action and Environment following a split vote among committee members last December.
All Fine Gael members of the Committee voted against adoption of the committee’s draft report on the Bill. During a private meeting of the committee yesterday, it was agreed that it would consider the draft report at its next sitting on 19 February.
Ms Smith said that she “remains hopeful” that the Bill can progress to Report Stage without further delay given the urgent need to tackle our emissions.
“Hopefully the committee will pass the bill to the next stage without any more delays because the issue of global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels is too urgent to shy away from,” she said.
Ms Smith said that passage of her Bill would be a “prime example” of how this country could “move from being a laggard to a leader on climate”.
“If we passed this Bill into law it will inspire similar moves in other countries. Iceland shows this is the case. We can become the fifth nation to ban fossil fuel exploration, but more importantly, we can aid similar bans in many other countries,” she said.
There are currently over 40 licences granted for a range of fossil fuel, some of which have contracts up to the late 2020s. Just last week, one of Ireland’s biggest oil companies Providence Resources received State approval for an exploration licence off the south-west coast.
The licence will come into effect from 1 February following approval from the Minister of State for Natural Resources, Sean Canney TD.
The announcement of the decision came as Mr Canney’s departmental colleague, the Minister for Climate Action, Richard Bruton TD met over 100 stakeholders at Croke Park last Friday to discuss how we can “step up our response to climate disruption”.
Ms Smith said that the timing of the announcement was “especially ironic” during the stakeholder meeting with the “Government spin machine in full flow”.
She said that the crisis facing the environment has clearly ramped up with reports that Greenland is melting even faster than predicted with the pace of ice loss increasing fourfold since 2003.
“We know that the melting ice is due to global temperature increases because of the burning of fossil fuels. We have to keep fossil fuels in the ground,” she said.