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File image of oil pumps. Shutterstock/Kokhanchikov

Ireland joins group of countries working to phase out oil and gas exploration

Several other countries have signed up to join this new alliance.

IRELAND IS ONE of a small number of countries which have signed up to a new initiative working to phase out oil and gas production. 

The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) was launched at COP26 this afternoon in one of several relatively rare direct references at the UN climate summit to fossil fuel’s role in the climate crisis. 

France, Greenland, Quebec, Sweden, Wales, California and New Zealand also signed up to the alliance which was set up by Denmark and Costa Rica. 

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said it “sends a powerful message that we are moving irrevocably away from fossil fuels towards a renewable future”. 

“As a core member of BOGA, Ireland will lead by example and share our experience of legislation so that we can all move towards a fossil free future.”

Ryan recently told reporters that it is “absolutely right” for Ireland to sign up to this alliance due to the country’s decision to give no new licences for oil and gas exploration.

Licences already issued by the State are still being honoured.

Oisín Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth Ireland, said it was positive for Ireland to join this alliance but the next step is to phase out the licences entirely. 

“We’ve been asking for [Ireland to sign up to the alliance] and we’re glad it is happening,” Coghlan told The Journal

“Ireland has a half-decent story to tell on our move away from oil and gas production.”

He mentioned the ban on fracking and the ban on issuing new licences for oil and gas exploration. 

“These are positive steps so it makes sense for Ireland to join,” Coghlan said, adding that the coalition is”signposting the direction the world needs to travel”.

“We would now call on the government to go to the next phase to look at existing licences,” he said.

He said the group wants these licences to be phased out entirely but that joining this alliance is positive in the meantime.

Jerry Mac Evilly, the head of policy in FOE also said joining this alliance is Ireland’s opportunity “to show leadership and end the reckless expansion of oil and gas at home and abroad”.

“The fossil fuel era must be brought to an end and this means leaving fossil fuels in the ground,” he said in a statement. 

Aideen O’Dochartaigh from fossil fuel free campaign group Not Here Not Anywhere said Ireland joining this alliance will “provide a platform for our policymakers to put pressure on other countries to phase out fossil fuels”. 

“Ireland also has an opportunity at COP to work with other BOGA members to ensure the new and very welcome text on fossil fuel phase out remains in the COP decision text and to push for stronger text in relation to phasing out all fossil fuels urgently and equitably,” she said. 

Another reference to the fossil fuel industry at COP26 is in the draft text of the ‘cover decision’ currently being discussed and negotiated at the conference.

One section of this draft document calls on countries to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”.

Experts believe it is unlikely this line will make it into a final agreement to be potentially signed by around 200 countries.

BOGA was officially launched at COP26 this afternoon as the UN climate summit is heading into its final days. 

Negotiators will be holding intensified meetings in the hours and days ahead as they work to figure out an agreement between almost every country in the world.

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