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Dublin: -1°C Sunday 24 January 2021

Decision to halt Climate Emergency Bill described as 'utter hypocrisy' on side of the Government

Organisations including Ibec and the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association (IOOA) have welcomed the Government’s decision.

File photo
File photo
Image: Eamonn Farrell

CLIMATE ACTION MINISTER Richard Burton has been criticised over a decision to halt the Climate Emergency Measures Bill from progressing, claiming it made “no contribution” to climate action goals.

The bill had passed two separate votes in the Dáil in 2018 and was set to move to the third stage. 

If passed it would mean no new licences would be granted for the purpose of oil or gas exploration in Ireland, with a view to reducing carbon emissions – a measure countries like Belize and France have already introduced. 

However, the bill was halted from progressing to the next stage after Fine Gael put down a money message, which claims the new legislation would be too costly on the public purse strings.  

The Government has insisted that oil and gas resources will be needed in the move towards sustainable economy.  

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith, who has been advocating for the bill in Leinster House, said the move was a show of “the utter hypocrisy of the Government on climate and renders null and void any other measure in the Climate Action Plan”. 

In a letter to Bríd Smith, Bruton said the bill “will not reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions, and instead it will ensure that Ireland must import all its fossil fuels… used during the transition to a low-carbon economy”.

He said there would be “financial implications of the proposal” which the bill ignores and states “it does not consider its wider implications on Ireland’s energy policy and security”. 

Bruton also added that the current all-of-Government’s Climate Action Plan “sets out the actions which we must take to deliver significant 2030 targets”. 

Organisations including Ibec and the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association (IOOA) have welcomed the Government’s decision. 

In a statement, Mandy Johnson, CEO of the IOOA said: “Government has recognised that using our own natural resources is not only good for energy security but also good for the environment and jobs.

“There is no realistic scenario under which gas and oil will not be required to contribute a major part of Ireland’s energy supply in the short to medium term.”

Ibec senior executive, Conor Minogue said: “Natural gas is the primary fuel for power generation in Ireland today and it will play a vital role as we transition to zero carbon alternatives and move away from other fossil fuels.”

“Now Ireland can focus on the implementation of the new Climate Action Plan and measures that will actually lead to the decarbonisation of our economy,” he added.

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