New motion raised in bid to save Bill to limit fossil fuel exploration

Published by Kayle Crosson on

March 25th, 2019

The Government has” thrown the kitchen sink” at proposed legislation to limit oil and gas exploration to stall the Bill in a “procedural wrangle”, Deputy Bríd Smith said today.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, the People Before Profit (PBP) politician said that Fine Gael seems “hell bent on appeasing the fossil fuel lobby” in opposing her Bill.

The Climate Emergency Measures Bill seeks to amend the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act to limit the issuing of new licenses for the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels.

There are currently over 40 licenses granted for a range of fossil fuel, some of which have contracts up to the late 2020s.

The Bill passed Second Stage in the Dail last February despite Government opposition, with 78 TDs voting in favour.

The Bill was then moved forward to be scrutinised by the Joint Committee on Climate Action and Environment last December where a vote to adopt a committee report was split and it was not adopted.

As such, the Bill was not sent back to the Dail with a new vote in February on an amended report also split. All Fine Gael politicians on the Committee voted against adoption of the report on both occasions.

The chair of the committee, Hildegarde Naughton TD has previously said that the Bill would not help reduce Ireland’s emissions and dependency on fossil fuels imports.

New motion

A new motion raised by PBP calling for the passage of the Bill directly to select committee stage will be debated in the Dail tomorrow evening. There will also be a protest outside the Dáil in support of the Bill at 6pm tomorrow.

The motion calls on the Dail to discharge the requirement for the joint committee to report on its detailed scrutiny of the Bill prior to the legislation progressing to the next stage.

“This motion is a call for the Dáil to articulate its support for and recognition of the urgent need to tackle the climate crisis,” Ms Smith said today.

“It is the responsibility of all elected representatives to tackle the impending issue of climate change and move the bill to the next stage,” she added.

Speaking at the briefing today, Dr Ciaran O’Carroll of the Extinction Rebellion movement said that it’s time for the Government to accept the “ecological emergency” we face and commit to legally binding measures to radically reduce emissions. 

“The scientists are telling the truth and we can now see [that climate change is] happening – arctic temperatures are rising at a devastating rate, farmers will not be able to grow food, our children could die if we do not act – it is real and it is happening now,” he said.

Cian Parry, a student who took part in the school strike last week, called into question the Taoiseach’s support for the student-led movement based on his party’s opposition of the Bill.

“One of the students’ demands is to cut fossil fuel usage by 2030,” he said. “If the Taoiseach genuinely found the strike inspiring and wanted to take meaningful action on climate change it makes little sense to me as to why his Government are not supporting this Bill.”

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Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.