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.
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.
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.
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.