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Fossil Free Future

We need to get off fossil fuels fast.  Ireland has excellent renewable energy resources, but our energy system uses fossil fuels for about 80% of its energy needs in transport, heating and electricity. 

At Friends of the Earth we are working to make sure that Ireland’s energy system is fit for the future, with no more investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, no more exploration for fossil fuels and an energy system that values and supports citizens and communities participating in and benefiting from our renewable energy transition. 


 

ACTION: For the love of solar - Minister O'Brien must solve solar panel mess

Schools shouldn't have to struggle to put solar panels on their roofs. There's been huge delays with updating regulations to make it easier for schools to install solar panels. Take our e-action to email your Fianna Fáil TDs about this issue.

Schools need planning permission to install even one solar panel on their roof. This makes installing solar panels unfeasible for many schools, due to the added cost and time associated with applying for planning permission. Without explanation the Department of Housing has repeatedly kicked the issue to touch over the past 3 years, copying and pasting the same messages but introducing a new delayed timeline roughly once every 3 months.

A few weeks ago the Taoiseach made a positive statement in the Dáil about the need to resolve this issue….but the very next day, in the Seanad, we heard of yet another delay!

Enough is enough - it’s time for the Minister for Housing to resolve this issue once and for all so that schools can run on sun. Please use our e-action to email your Fianna Fáil TDs, asking them to ask their colleague, Minister Darragh O’Brien, to act on this issue immediately and to also raise it at the next Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting.

Note: This e-action is only suitable for people who have a Fianna Fáil TD in their constituency. If you don’t have a Fianna Fáil TD you could contact the Minister for Housing directly - contact details are available here.

ACTION: End Solar School Delays

Change the planning regulations so that schools can put solar panels on their roofs without the expense of applying for planning permission

  • Schools need planning permission to install even one solar panel on their roof. It's madness, and adds significant cost. Without explanation the Department of Housing has repeatedly kicked the issue to touch over the past 3 years, copying and pasting the same messages but putting out a new delayed timeline roughly once every 3 months. This farcical situation should not be accepted.

  • Most worryingly the Department’s approach has effectively ignored the Government’s Climate Action Plan. The 2019 Climate Action Plan included a commitment to complete the review of regulations by the end of 2019 but this was seemingly ignored. During 2020 and 2021 the Department repeatedly announced new delays by way of answers to parliamentary questions.

  • The 2021 Climate Action Plan includes a commitment to update planning regulations by March 2022. Despite having just made this commitment in December, the Minister for Housing issued(yet another) delayed timeline on the 19th of January this year - this time with yet another delay to later in 2022.

  • And it’s important to note - this is an example of a climate action measure where there isn’t even any political opposition! The planned change enjoys universal support across the Oireachtas yet has been seemingly been dismissed at Departmental level.

  • This raises an obvious question: If we can’t even get a decision that no one is opposing implemented within three years, how is the system going to implement the complex, and at times contested, decisions needed to meet the Climate Law's target of cutting polluting emissions in half by 2030?

Sign our petition to ask the Government to stop messing around and change the planning regulations so that schools and community buildings can put solar panels on their roofs without further delay. Make it possible for every school to be a solar school!

 

ACTION: For the Love of ...Solar Schools

Please change the planning exemptions so that schools and community buildings can install solar panels, without the added expense of seeking planning permission.

We love Solar Power! It's clean, free and zero carbon, but in Ireland we have hardly any of it.

And the reason why has nothing to do with how much sun we get! It's because Ireland has unique rules that are designed to make installing solar panels REALLY hard. It is particularly hard for schools.

One of these rules is planning permission.  Schools need planning permission to install even one solar panel.  It's madness, and adds significant cost. 

For years politicians have promised to change this.  They even leaked a story to the papers in August 2020, that they had done it! But they haven't. 

Today, the change is in the hands of Minister Peter Burke. 

Please email your TD's today, and ask them to put pressues on Minister Burke and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage,   and ask him to make good on the promise of many before him, for the Love of Solar. 

ACTION: Call on Ireland to propose a UN ban on fracking

Join the call for Ireland to propose a UN resolution against fracking at the General Assembly this year

Friends of the Earth has joined forces with activists and experts from across the anti-fracking movement [note 1] to call on Ireland to propose a global ban on fracking at the United Nations. We have written a joint letter to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD to ask for Ireland’s support and produced an Explanatory Memorandum which outlines the case for a resolution on a global ban on fracking.

This call follows on from an open letter to the UN Secretary-General in 2019, signed by over 450 grassroots groups, organisations, celebrities and scientists from around the world, which demanded that the UN to champion efforts to stop fracking.

Gas is a harmful fossil fuel. At the very least half of all existing gas reserves need to stay in the ground unburned to keep global heating to less than 2C, more if we are serious about the Paris goal of 1.5C.

Fracked gas is fossil gas that has been extracted by an extremely damaging and polluting extractive process known as hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’. The harmful effects of fracking have been especially felt by communities in the US and include hugely detrimental impacts on public health and safety, as well as on ecological systems and the environment.

Fracking is also driving the climate crisis with US fracked gas thought to be responsible for the recent spike in global methane emissions (an extremely potent greenhouse gas). The Irish Centre for Human Rights in NUI Galway has also undertaken research on the international human rights implications of fracked gas which highlights that fracking has wide-ranging adverse impacts on many human rights (see here).

Ireland is uniquely well-positioned to lead the effort against fracked gas. Ireland already has a strong legislative ban on fracking in Ireland and within weeks will publish a policy against fracked gas imports. The state has also introduced legislation to make the state investment fund pull its money out of fossil fuel.

Sign the petition asking the Irish Government to table a UN resolution at the United Nations calling for a global ban on fracking.

Note 1
The orignators of the call include Belcoo Frack Free, Fridays for Future Ireland, Future Proof Clare, the Irish Centre for Human Rights NUI Galway, Love Leitrim, Safety Before LNG, Sr Majella McCarron OLA.

 

A 5-point plan for Government to cut bills, save energy and reduce pollution

Issued in news on May 23, 2022 at 11:30:00.

5 point plan basic image

Friends of the Earth urges emergency Government response to prepare for next winter

Friends of the Earth has today published a “Five-point plan for Government to cut bills, save energy and reduce pollution”. As households have now received the last Fuel Allowance payment for this season and with the Russian invasion of Ukraine entering its fourth month, the environmental justice organisation has called for “a concerted emergency response from the whole of Government to do five things” before next winter sees the energy crisis hit home even more. The plan contains 48 specific recommendations from inflation-proofing social welfare to free school buses to a moratorium on new data centres.

Commenting, Friends of the Earth’s Head of Policy, Jerry Mac Evilly, said:

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Watch it Back: Learning Hub 2022

Issued in the blog on May 12, 2022 at 17:00:00.

Copy of Learning Hub 2022 (Twitter Post) (1)

This year’s Learning Hub has looked at many different topics through film, poetry, reading, writing and other creative learning tools. Different media has allowed us to explore and learn about climate and social justice issues affecting people locally and globally. We’ve loved hearing from our special guest speakers but also hearing from our amazing learners, who have sent us music, drawings and fascinating articles about earth, energy, eco-anxiety, and activism.

Read on to access recordings from our webinars - along with read and watch lists and other resources to faciliate deeper exploration of the topics we covered.

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LNG: The liquid path to climate chaos

Issued in the blog on May 06, 2022 at 16:00:00.

09a Dangerous

A new joint briefing by Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Action Europe highlights the dangers of the proposed roll out of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) across Europe as an attempt to tackle energy security concerns.

The cost of fossil gas, the horrific invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, and the need to mitigate the impacts of climate change and keep global warming to below 1.5°C, have created a buzz around LNG.

This briefing provides counterarguments to the overinflated role that LNG is being positioned to have in Europe’s energy future, and shows instead that this is a dangerous distraction from the just energy transition to renewables that is so desperately needed.

00b LNG_ The Liquid Path to Climate Chaos

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Watch it Back: System Change Week Webinar Series

Issued in the blog on May 06, 2022 at 14:18:00.

System Change Week (Presentation (169) (3)

Our System Change Week of online seminars explored interconnecting topics such as climate justice, racial and gender equality, sustainable housing, food systems, economic justice and lots more. The series offered bite sized talks that touched on local and global perspectives on global justice issues while highlighting solutions championed by groups in Ireland and around the world. Inspiring speakers shared information and resources connecting the dots between global justice issues and empowering us to take action.

Missed these webinars? We’ve got you covered! We recorded them for you to watch back at your leisure! Scroll on down to find recordings from each webinar - along with some excellent resources on the issues being explored!

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Consultation on proposed revision to the Gas Directive and the Gas Regulation and proposals for a Regulation on Methane Emissions

Issued in publications on April 29, 2022.

FOE Ireland Gas Package Consultation

The central message of this submission is that unless significant changes are made to the Commission’s proposals on the Gas Package, this crucial piece of legislation risks creating further fossil gas lock-in, endangering Ireland & the EU’s climate and energy targets, and will fail to resolve the conflicts of interest established in the current legislation. Additionally, the gas package in its current form does not address the effects of the current energy crisis, and risks further exacerbating energy poverty.

The current proposal fails to provide the much broader framework to reduce fossil gas consumption across the EU by 2030 significantly and reach a complete phase-out of fossil gas by 2035 at the latest.

 Friends of the Earth’s submission sets out recommendations on how the gas package must contribute to emission reductions in line with the Paris Agreement though preparing gas distribution networks for change; improving governance to remove conflicts of interests in network planning; addressing hydrogen use and blending; and protecting energy communities

 Key Recommendations:

● Enable Distribution System Operators (DSOs) to prepare for decommissioning. Include explicit transparency obligations for DSOs in the context of energy infrastructure planning and ensure network plans are in line with EU and national climate and energy targets.

● Improve governance to remove conflicts of interest in gas network planning and guarantee a complete separation between the ownership, control, and operation of fossil gas and hydrogen assets.

● Exclude hydrogen blending to enable a targeted use of hydrogen, and ban connection to newly built (or repurposed) hydrogen distribution grids to users that are not identified as priority users.

● To be fit for purpose, the gas package should drop its framing of a one-to-one replacement of fossil gas with renewable and low carbon gases. It instead should focus on putting in place tools that enable the scaling down of gas use in the market and on using hydrogen only for the most strategic applications.

● Exclude any reference to “low carbon hydrogen” in the Directive. Include biogas produced exclusively from waste and residue feedstocks, and define clear sustainability standards for biogas production.

● Protect the integrity of Energy Communities by deleting all references to “gas energy communities”

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Energy conference sponsored by fossil fuel companies unacceptable attempt to greenwash dirty energy

Issued in news on April 25, 2022 at 20:23:00.

national energy summit 2022

Friends of the Earth has called on Mary Lou McDonald TD and other high profile speakers to reconsider their involvement in an energy policy conference tomorrow (Tuesday 26th) because it’s main sponsors are fossil fuel companies. The “National Energy Summit” [1] taking place in Croke Park will feature speeches from several well-known climate and energy stakeholders from Government and academia. While such events are a standard and worthwhile feature of policy discussions in Ireland, Friends of the Earth says this event is tainted by the fact that its main “gold” sponsors are Mag Mell (formerly Predator), a liquefied natural gas developer, and Gas Networks Ireland [2].

Commenting, Jerry Mac Evilly, Head of Policy in Friends of the Earth stated:

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Energy Security Framework only a first step in responding to energy crisis

Issued in news on April 13, 2022 at 17:00:00.

gas

Government’s Energy Security Framework only a first step in responding to the energy crisis

 

Friends of the Earth has welcomed the publication today of the Government’s new National Energy Security Framework, but cautioned that it is only one step in the emergency response we need to the crisis in fossil fuel prices, pollution and supply. Today’s announcement includes a package of measures and plans designed to improve security and reduce energy price, but much work remains to be done according to the campaign group.

Commenting, Jerry Mac Evilly, Head of Policy in Friends of the Earth, said:

“We welcome the Government’s recognition that enhancing Ireland’s energy security must focus on protecting those at risk of energy poverty and on actively reducing overall demand for gas.

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Overwhelming majority of Irish people think EU should boycott Russian gas

Issued in news on March 08, 2022 at 12:19:00.

poll 1

Three times as many people want more renewables rather than another source of gas

 

81% of people in Ireland think the EU should consider boycotting Russian gas as part of the sanctions to oppose Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to an opinion poll carried out by Ireland Thinks for Friends of the Earth. Asked what the EU should prioritise to replace Russian gas, a majority (61%) of respondents said develop more renewable energy compared to only a small minority who supported building LNG terminals in Ireland to import gas by ship.

The poll was among a representative sample of the Irish population on Friday March 4th with a sample size of 1,011 and therefore margin of error of +/- 3%. Full details of the poll are online here [1].

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Power to the People Learning Hub events

Issued in the blog on March 02, 2022 at 18:53:00.

Power to the People Webinar Learning Hub twitter

The next two sessions of our Learning Hub series will focus on our Power to the People work area. We’ll explore the increasingly pressing issues of energy poverty and retrofitting.

A recent report co-authored by Friends of the Earth Europe found that for every 1% increase in energy efficiency targets, 7 million people can be lifted out of energy poverty.

To explore this - and more - we’re delighted to be joined by Issy Petrie, research and policy officer with St Vincent de Paul, Bulelani Mfaco from the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland and Bryce Goodall of Living Rent, Scotland. They’ll explore how high energy costs negatively impact us and look at how solutions to energy poverty can empower people and help address the climate crisis.

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SEAI heat study highlights urgent need for heat sector decarbonisation

Issued in news on February 25, 2022 at 12:32:00.

retrofit

The SEAI Heat study published this week highlights the urgent need for Government to move quickly on decarbonisation of Ireland’s heating sector. This is an important step in making Irish homes & buildings warmer, healthier, and fossil-free. Friends of the Earth has summarised some of the main findings [1].

Emissions from the Irish heating sector have increased by 13% since 2014, and based on this new analysis, the sector is highly unlikely to stay within its carbon budget target with current policy measures in place.

The key takeaway from the SEAI study is that the Government must act urgently, go beyond even the new retrofitting scheme just announced in February and put additional policies in place to decarbonise Irish homes.

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