No New Gas is our campaign to prevent fossil gas lock-in. Its primary focus is on fracked gas, LNG infrastructure and new exploration licenses for oil and gas in Irish waters.
This campaign made exciting progress recently with the plans to introduce a ban on new oil and gas licenses off the Irish coast. In 2017 Ireland banned fracking, which was a ban on onshore extraction in the Republic of Ireland. Now the ban will begin to extend into the offshore, contributing to the struggle to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Faster and Fairer Climate Action is our campaign to achieve our Strategic Objective on climate governance. Much of our work on this campaign is pursued through our coordination and participation in the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition.
In recent months we have maintained our campaign to strengthen the Climate Bill. In December the Joint Oireachtas Committee concluded their scrutiny of the Bill. Their report from the process puts a spotlight on weaknesses in the Bill identified by many experts that came before the Committee, and by Stop Climate Chaos when the original draft was published in October. It makes specific recommendations to the Government on fixing those loopholes before the Bill comes to the Dáil to be formally debated this spring.
Power to the People is our campaign to achieve the electricity-related key results of the Strategic Objective on emissions reduction, by putting citizens and communities at the heart of the transition to 100% renewable power.
We’ve made good progress on our campaign to change the planning regulations to allow solar panels on schools. Two weeks ago the Sunday Business Post reported that planning regulations would be changing to facilitate solar panels on buildings, including schools. We're continuing our campaign for legislation to seal the deal on this and make sure it happens.
Councillors around Ireland have been supporting this too, and both Galway County Council and Westmeath County Council have passed motions recently supporting a change in the planning regulations.
Decarbonising Ireland's energy system is key to meeting our climate goals. This means reducing energy demand, significantly increasing renewables, electricity interconnection and storage, and making sure people and communities are at the forefront of this transition, particularly the most vulnerable. Friends of the Earth is also clear that rapid phase out of fossil fuels is absolutely essential. Infrastructure decisions at Irish and EU level need to reflect these objectives. Decisions we make on energy infrastructure now will have far-reaching impacts on the pace and scale of our decarbonisation.
I wrote last week about some updates on the Climate Bill. I mentioned that 2021 should be the year when Ireland finally gets a new, stronger, Climate Law. I was pretty apprehensive about putting those words on paper - fearing I may be tempting fate! Well….unfortunately I was right to be apprehensive. The Government is currently making its final decisions on the Climate Law and some alarm bells are starting to ring . Unless we apply strong pressure now, there’s a risk that the Climate Law could be watered down. So can you take this e-action I shared last week without delay? Asking your TDs to ensure the Government listens to the Joint Committee on Climate Action’s recommendations to strengthen the Climate Bill - instead of doing the opposite and making it weaker.
I’m almost scared to say it out loud - for fear of jinxing things. But here goes anyway….2021 should finally be the year that Ireland gets a new, stronger, Climate Law. I’ve got to admit, when the draft law was published last autumn I was disappointed. But a huge movement rose up, determined to make this law better. The actions of Friends of the Earth supporters - along with countless other activists, groups and organisations - were immense. Whether you took an e-action, called your TD or took part in the TD Lobby in December, your action has made a real difference.
The Oireachtas Committee tasked with scrutinizing the draft Climate Law really felt our pressure! This Committee has now produced a very good report, with a list of recommendations to strengthen the law. Having this report is a powerful tool in our campaigning tool box. Now we just need to use it! It’s crucial that the Government accepts the report’s recommendations - and addresses some remaining weaknesses in the Bill. So could you email your TDs asking them to ensure the Government does this? The Government will make its final decisions on the Climate Law in the next couple of weeks - so there’s no time to lose!
We’ve reached a critical juncture in our campaign for renewable, community owned energy. In a matter of months we could finally have a support scheme for small renewable energy microgenerators. But this scheme could end up being very good - or pretty bad. The difference hangs in our collective hands!
We've been campaigning for this type of scheme for years. And now - finally - the Government has agreed that it’s needed!
There’s no denying it, the last few weeks have been very difficult. We’re living through a period where every glimmer of hope we can find is precious - and to be treasured. With that in mind, we wanted to share the recording of a webinar that we hosted just before Christmas - Hopeful Chats about Climate Change. People left the webinar feeling very hopeful - and it continues to give us hope when we think back about it now! You can watch it back here in your own time.
Dr Cara Augustenborg did a super job of chairing the discussion and spoke from her own experience as a climate scientist, activist and mother.