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Pressure mounting on forming Government to reject plans for imported fracked gas terminals from 130 groups

27 Apr 2020

Pressure mounting on forming Government to reject plans for imported fracked gas terminals from 130 groups

130 national and international groups have today written to all Irish Party leaders requesting them to remove support for fracked gas infrastructure in Ireland. The letter comes as negotiations for Government intensify and requests an explicit policy statement to be included in the next Programme for Government against the development of all new fossil fuel infrastructure in the form of LNG import terminals that could facilitate the entry of unconventional fracked gas into the Irish energy mix.

Two fracked gas terminals, or - LNG - terminals are currently proposed, in Shannon and Cork. The terminals would be developed as import hubs, allowing fracked gas into the European market from the USA where there is currently an oversupply of this controversial fuel. The terminals would play an important role in the shale gas supply chain, the market for which is currently very unstable.

Johnny McElligot, campaigner with Safety before LNG said,

We’re on the Kerry side of the Shannon estuary. Moneypoint coal power station is less than 5 km away as the crow flies. We’re looking at all the jobs being lost there because the power station is closing on climate grounds. I cannot understand the logic of now building a fracked gas import plant, which would have a carbon-equivalent footprint 44% larger than that of coal. A policy on fracked gas imports that takes into account the full life-cycle and non-territorial emissions is needed. Measuring only what is burned in Ireland is gaming the system.”

The project in the Shannon Estuary is being proposed by New Fortress Energy, an American company that specialises in LNG and power generation. Due to its support from the previous Government the project has been granted significant benefits from the European Union, including access to funding and fast track licensing and approval. However, the future for Shannon LNG has never been more precarious, as it currently faces a High Court challenge from environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment over the decision-making process that led to its approval.

Eddie Mitchell, campaigner with Love Leitrim said,

“We banned fracking in Ireland 3 years ago because we knew how dangerous and polluting it was for people, the environment and the climate. If Ireland facilitates the building of these terminals, we will be creating a functional interdependence between suffering and sickness in communities in North America and gas consumption in Ireland. This is a climate justice issue, we can't ban fracking in Ireland to protect our communities but be willing to exploit others elsewhere. None of Ireland’s GHG emissions being counted will include most of the climate accelerating ones associated with fracking, in particular methane, the toxic greenhouse gas with over 87 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. We decide what fuels we use in our energy mix.

“The campaign to ban fracking was a political campaign. It won because of pressure from the people of Ireland. Now 74 out of 160 of the newly elected TD’s have already committed to ending support for LNG terminals, so we know there is a lot of support within the Dail to stop these terminals”.

Although Shannon LNG has already been approved by the European Commission, it requires the continued support of the member state Government, in order to proceed and have access to European funds. This letter to all party leaders today calls for an explicit commitment not to continue Government support for these projects.

Kate Ruddock, of Friends of the Earth said,

Ireland needs to start to plan for a future that is compatible with a safe climate. Pouring money and support into infrastructure like this would be a huge boost to the fossil fuel industry who are desperately trying to secure markets for their toxic fuels. That money would be far better spent investing in renewable energy, particularly the offshore to support our transition away from fossil fuels, rather than locking us into decades of using more of them.

Roisin Keegan O Rourke- Delegate on Ireland's first Youth Assembly on Climate said

We see by the level of support for this document that it is a hugely popular issue. Stopping the importation of fracked gas is also one that Ireland's young people have taken on board, and was included in the recommendations made by the Climate Youth Assembly last November. This is a chance for our TDs to deliver. They will be delivering on something that will make an immediate difference to climate change.
If the current crises has taught us anything it's that we can really come together on things when it matters”

 

NOTES

  1. The joint letter which has been signed by Scientists, and organisations from North and South America, Australia, continental Europe and Ireland, including groups focussed on health, nature protection, climate action, and overseas development can be viewed here.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/16-dutSYFCiWEGVVO-xjNzntfSZPdMHgZRzMinwAvMYk/edit

 

  1. New York's Cornell University Professor, Rowert W. Howarth, told the Climate Action Committee on October 9th 2019 that "if Ireland were to import LNG from the United States, it would largely be shale gas". He said that "Methane is an incredibly powerful greenhouse gas, more than 100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide compared gram to gram". His latest peer-reviewed research has found that "shale gas development in North America is the single largest driver of this increase in methane, accounting for one-third of the increase in global emissions from all sources". He went on to "estimate that the use of shale gas imported as LNG to Ireland, would create greenhouse gas emissions of 156g CO2-equivalents per MJ, or a foot-print 44% greater than that of coal”.

 

  1. The European Commission has added five LNG terminals in Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and Poland to the latest 4th Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list, which obliges each Member State to consider those projects as being of overriding public interest. Each Member State is obliged to ensure that PCI projects "shall be allocated the status of the highest national significance possible and be treated as such in permit granting processes" due solely to their status as PCI projects. Even though no consideration of the full life-cycle, non-territorial climate impacts has been undertaken for these controversial LNG terminals.

 

  1. The Stop Climate Chaos coalition published a proposed Terms of Reference for a review of Ireland Energy Security, to assess the opportunities for renewable energy expansion, and decarbonising our energy system which is currently heavily reliant on fossil fuels. A copy can be found here.

 

  1. Recommendation on LNG in Ireland's Youth Assembly on Climate November 2019. https://twitter.com/rtenews/status/1195347546656382977?s=19



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