What the experts want from GE2020 – Not Here, Not Anywhere

Published by Niall Sargent on

February 4th, 2020

Over the past three weeks, as in all election cycles, we have become accustomed to the knock at the door from canvassers or candidates themselves are they vie for our number one at the ballot box.

We have asked leading climate and biodiversity experts to tell us the key policy asks that they have raised with candidates when they come a-knocking.

Next up is Not Here Not Anywhere, a nationwide, grassroots, non-partisan group campaigning to end fossil fuel exploration and the development of new fossil fuel infrastructure in Ireland. The groups advocates for a just transition to renewable energy systems both here and around the world.

The group bases all its actions on the fact that 80 per cent of the known fossil fuels must stay in the ground to maintain global temperatures at less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and to avoid the most severe impacts of a changing climate. Committing to and achieving a fossil free future for Ireland is, thus, the basis of the group’s three policy asks.

Campaign group Not Here, Not Anywhere deliver petition to DCCAE in Sept 2018 to ban exploration Photo: Niall Sargent

Pass the Climate Emergency Bill

Our first policy ask is  for elected TDs to ensure that the Climate Emergency Bill to ban offshore drilling for oil and gas passes in the next Dail if brought back into play by People Before Profit. Passage of the Bill would see us join countries like New Zealand and it would be a massive victory for the climate movement here and abroad.

Offshore drilling in Irish waters damages marine health and produces toxic chemicals that accumulate in the seafood supply, threatening Ireland’s tourism and seafood industries, which together employ over 230,000 people.

Reliance on fossil fuels will not provide energy security. The best way to address both Irish energy security and the need for rapid decarbonisation is to constrain and reduce energy consumption and to exit from the use of all fossil fuels, as quickly as is safely feasible.

Die-in protest against Shannon LNG Photo: Kayle Crosson
Die-in protest against Shannon LNG Photo: Kayle Crosson

Halt the development of any new fossil fuel infrastructure

Recent research from Nature stated if we are to have a 64 per cent chance of limiting temperature rise to less than 1.5°C, there must be no new fossil fuel infrastructure from 2019 onwards.

Constructing new gas infrastructure such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals, extending the domestic gas grid or enabling Ireland to export gas for the first time is counterproductive to the transition to renewable energy.

Continued investment in gas will result in fossil fuel “lock-in” where resources that could be invested in renewable energy are instead invested in unsustainable fossil energy. Ireland can follow the lead of progressive cities and counties in the US which have banned the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure.  Importing fracked gas through the planned LNG terminal in Shannon, for example, would have an emissions footprint 44 per cent greater than coal.

Photo: Friends of the Irish Environment
Industrial scale peat extraction Photo: Friends of the Irish Environment

Stop burning peat, coal and unsustainable biomass for electricity

We need to phase out these carbon intensive power plants but as part of the process we must ensure that workers in these carbon-intensive industries have new quality employment and training opportunities in ecologically sound, low-carbon sectors. Irish semi-state bodies should be mandated to become leaders in the transition to renewables.

We also need to end all peat mining (including for horticulture) due to its impact on carbon emissions and biodiversity, with a just transition for workers and due regard for Turbary Rights.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London