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Fracked LNG a key litmus test of Government promises on climate action

29 Jul 2020

Friends of the Earth

For Immediate Release

29 July 2020

Campaigners call on Government to follow through on commitments made in Programme for Government

The threat of LNG terminals loom large

Fracking campaigners have called on the Government to follow through on their commitments in the Programme for Government to prevent the development of new fracked gas import terminals in Ireland. The controversial Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals are planned for the Shannon Estuary and the Port of Cork, and if constructed would import fracked gas from the United States into Ireland.

The Programme for Government states,

"As Ireland moves towards carbon neutrality, we do not believe that it makes sense to develop LNG gas import terminals importing fracked gas. Accordingly, we shall withdraw the Shannon LNG terminal from the EU Projects of Common Interest list in 2021. We do not support the importation of fracked gas and shall develop a policy statement to establish that approach."

The Programme for Government further commits to ending all licences for the extraction of fossil gas in Irish waters, which follows on from a policy announced by Leo Varadkar at the UN Climate Summit in late 2019 to end the issuing of licences for oil extraction from Irish waters [2]. For climate activists around the country, the Government’s action to follow through on these pledges represents a key litmus test to show how serious the new Government is on climate action. Today, campaigners have published a road map for the legislative change that is required to prevent the development of the fracked gas industry in Ireland. [1]

Johnny McElligott of Safety before LNG, commented:

"An Irish policy ban on fracked gas imports was agreed in the Programme for Government, meaning a ban on fracked gas imports from all sources such as via LNG terminals and the Interconnectors must now be dealt with in the upcoming policy statement. The policy must also make it clear that any Energy Plan to develop LNG infrastructure in Ireland would have significant environmental effects and should be submitted to high-level assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)."

The promised policy statement is time-sensitive because an imminent new planning application by Shannon LNG, slated for September, would otherwise only be subjected to local environmental impact assessment, having gone from a silent policy to project approval without the prior high-level strategic assessment that an explicit energy plan statement on LNG infrastructure development would oblige."

Roisin Keegan O’Rourke of Love Leitrim and a delegate to the Youth Climate Assembly said:

"We want Ireland to transition to clean energy. We stopped fracking in our community, so we cannot stand by and allow Ireland to participate in the exploitation of other communities, including those in Pennsylvania where this fracked gas would come from. The Youth Climate Assembly on Climate Action made the recommendation last year to end Irish support for fracked gas. We want assurance that we are being listened to, and that these projects wont go ahead”If a policy statement is published swiftly, it would make Ireland a leader in the fight against fossil fuels and fracked gas. With a seat on the United Nations Security Council, the opportunity is there for Ireland to become a global champion for action to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to clean renewable energy. In Ireland, renewable electricity from wind provided for 43.8% of our electricity demand in the first quarter of this year [3]. It has been estimated that over 80% of the world’s known reserves of fossil fuels must remain in the ground if we are to keep within the temperature limits established at the Paris Agreement.

Aideen O’Dochartaigh of Not Here Not Anywhere, said:

LNG and fracked gas in Ireland's energy mix are not conducive to our obligations under the Paris Agreement. We have heard countless testimonies from communities from all over the world about the health, human rights, and environmental impacts that these industries have. The Irish government developing a strong policy statement on importing fracked gas and LNG will send a strong signal that this dirty industry is not welcome here.”

Kate Ruddock of Friends of the Earth, said:

“Fossil gas is a fuel of the past - so we were pleased to see several commitments relevant to its phase out in the Programme for Government. We believe that a number of regulatory steps are necessary in order to fully implement these commitments.

We have set out these steps in our briefing and would ask the Government to follow our recommendations as a matter of urgency.”

ENDS

NOTES:

[1] The briefing is available here, and was co-created by campaign groups Friends of the Earth, Not Here Not Anywhere, Future proof Clare, Safety before LNG, Food and Water Watch Europe and Love Leitrim.

[2] The Policy Statement which ended the issuing of licences for oil extraction is here.

[3] This is based on figures from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and you can read more about it here.

 

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