Wed, Mar 2, 2022
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Neasa introducing her Bill before the Dáil [the Planning and Development (Liquefied Natural Gas - LNG) (Amendment) Bill 2022] that would provide for a legislative ban on LNG terminals in Ireland. You can find out more about the campaign to keep Ireland #LNGFree here: https://www.lngfree.ie/
Go raibh maith agat Ceann Comairle.
I want to introduce this Bill today by quoting the Tánaiste and his speech in this House last week when he said: “even if it wasn’t for the climate crisis; for economic reasons and security reasons, we need to wean ourselves off our dependence on fossil fuels”. The position outlined last week is meaningful and hopeful, because for once and at last, it places our communities and our children and grandchildren at the forefront of policy making in energy in this country, and it sets out our plan for energy security.
The LNG Free Bill which I am tabling today, developed by the grassroots organisation Not Here Not Anywhere, who are here today, and I am incredibly thankful to, and sponsored by myself seeks to support the Governments agreed position as outlined in the Programme for Government. This Bill is also supported by thirty national and international organisations. It is to keep Ireland free of Liquified Natural Gas and to strike out towards a future based on energy sustainability and security. A future that will deliver us from the clutches of profiteers and despots who would happily allow this world to burn for the sake of a few more dollars. This Government won’t and can’t allow that to happen.
This has been a challenging year, two years maybe, for all of us. And just when we began to emerge from the Covid crisis, inflation has skyrocketed - particularly energy costs. Placing households in Ireland under terrible and sustained pressure. No one should have to decide between heat or food. It is our generation that will decide the pathway forward. The pathway I advocate for, which this Bill serves, is one where communities produce their own energy, they own it, they benefit from it. It provides jobs to their communities. It uses local natural resources without destroying those resources or the landscape around them. That is an attainable vision for energy in this country. It includes wind, it includes solar and perhaps wave. It must include an integrated European grid. Given our geographical riches and demographics Ireland has a better chance than almost any other country on the planet of being entirely energy independent due to renewables. We are the country that can actually achieve this.
The other path to take, the LNG path, the impacts of that were outline in detail this week by the IPCC report which issued a stark warning on just how close we are to devastation as a result of climate change. Building large scale LNG infrastructure in Ireland at this point will lock us into fossil fuel use for decades to come. And it is an even worse path than that because it is a polluted path. It is a dangerous and dirty industry, huge in the space it requires but miniscule in the provision of employment. The oppressive threat of environmental degradation and safety issues looming not just for those who suffer as their communities are ravaged by fracking and shale gas extraction in places like the US and Qatar, but communities here in Ireland where LNG terminals are to be built, as huge polluting tankers hover on the horizon and a meagre cohort of workers tend to often empty storage facilities.
LNG didn’t protect France or Germany from price surges this year. It didn’t protect their communities from inflation. It didn’t protect communities in the countries from fuel poverty even when it polluted them. LNG is the plaything of private investors. And for this we will turn away from a future truly free of fossil fuels? Will we give up over the next decades and energy security that is genuinely ours?
The last two weeks have showed us how truly powerful the reliance on gas can be and how it can shape geopolitics. If we are committed to peace, if we are committed to standing with democracy than we can no longer blindly bind ourselves through energy dependence to other nations, particularly when we have options now. We can no longer place the future of our communities, their employment, their prosperity, their very environment, their water quality, their air quality, we cannot place that in the hands of other nations and particularly in the hands of private investors and private interests. The future should belong to us. It should belong to Irish communities. And it is for us to safeguard it for those who come after us. There is no place for LNG in Ireland. We don’t need it.
I commend this Bill to the House.