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Ireland shuts the door on new gas and oil

2 Feb 2021

Friends of the Earth
For Immediate Release
Tuesday 2nd February 2021

Campaigners welcome the Government’s proposal for a national ban on all future oil and gas exploration and extraction in Ireland.

Ireland will now become the second country in Europe and only the fourth in the world to introduce a definitive national ban through legislation on all fossil fuel exploration [1] In 2017 Ireland took the first steps to legally prohibiting gas extraction with a legal ban on fracking onshore [2]. This next step will extend that ban to any new oil or gas exploration in our offshore waters.

Kate Ruddock, Deputy Director of Friends of the Earth commented,

"The campaign to keep fossil fuels in the ground is strong and sustained here in Ireland. Credit is due to the many grassroots groups and activists who have contacted their TDs, signed petitions and took to the streets on this issue for many years.

We now need to see a legally robust ban in legislation that prevents any loopholes or legal challenges from the offshore oil and gas industry, especially in the context of existing fossil fuel entitlements and leases. We will be calling for the ending of all oil and gas exploration with a specific date for the termination of existing licenses.

We may only be a small country, but we have a huge opportunity for greater global leadership, particularly during our time on the UN security council. Globally we need to leave over 80% of known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent runaway climate change."

The ban will be included in the revised Climate Action Bill which is due to go before the Cabinet today, Tuesday 2nd February [3]. The revisions to the Bill have come as recommendations from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, following significant debate and a series of expert witnesses who came before the Committee late last year. The Bill still needs to pass through a number of additional legislative stages within the Houses of the Oireachtas before becoming law. This is a priority piece of legislation for the Government and was a key item agreed under the Programme for Government.

ENDS

 

Notes
1. The table below outlines countries that have introduced oil and gas exploration bans or moratoriums. Not included in the table is Italy, who introduced a temporary, 18 month moratorium on oil and gas exploration in February 2019.

CountryLegal toolExisting permitsNew permitsReference
New ZealandNational lawNot includedIncludedhttps://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/press-release/oil-and-gas-exploration-ban-passes-into-law/
FranceNational lawNone renewed beyond 2040Includedhttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/20/france-bans-fracking-and-oil-extraction-in-all-of-its-territories
DenmarkNational MoratoriumEnd production by 2050Includedhttps://www.greenpeace.org/international/press-release/45831/denmark-cancels-new-oil-and-gas-permits-and-sets-date-to-end-existing-production/
Costa RicaNational moratorium??http://www.leavefossilfuelsunderground.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/LFFU-in-Costa-Rica.pdf
BelizeNational law??https://www.offshore-technology.com/features/countries-ending-oil-exploration/
SpainDraft national lawNot included in current draftIncludedhttps://www.oceancare.org/en/hope-for-ban-on-oil-and-gas-exploration-in-spanish-waters/
  1. The law to ban fracking in Ireland, which was passed in 2017, can be viewed at this link https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2016/37/.
  2. For more on this see articles at the following two links:
    1. https://www.rte.ie/news/2021/0201/1194439-climate-action-bill/
    2. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/revised-climate-bill-to-ban-oil-and-gas-extraction-goes-before-cabinet-1.4473426

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