People Before Profit and others protest for a ban on oil and gas drilling

Aoife Horan

Countries across the world have begun to take climate change more seriously after the UN report released on the subject late last year.

People before Profit (PBP) and five other groups hosted the Pass the Climate Emergency Measures Bill Protest outside Leinster House before it returned to the Dáil last Tuesday.

The Climate Emergency Measures Bill aims to ban oil and gas drilling in Ireland and was passed in Private Members Time over a year ago but has been blocked at Committee Stage after a vote sat divided with six for the bill and six against.

“The bill that I brought to the Dáil over a year ago, the Climate Emergency Measures Bill to keep fossil fuels in the ground is being thwarted and held in a limbo here in the joint committee,” said PBP TD Bríd Smith.

The protest was held by PBP, Climate Action Ireland, Young friends of the Earth, the Green Party, Labour Youth and Not Here Not Anywhere and there were speakers from all parties involved.

“The way we have to tackle this problem is at source, by stopping the fossil fuels at drill head, the oil pipe, at the coalmine,” said Green Party leader Eamon Ryan who allowed Private Members Time to be used on the Climate Emergency Measures bill for the second time.

The bill aims to amend the Petroleum and Mineral Oils Development Act 1960 by banning fossil fuels and for no new licenses to be given for the exploration of fossil fuels.

“We’re up against people who are very determined to keep this change from happening,” Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett said addressing the crowd at the protest.

It would follow in the footsteps of countries such as Costa Rica, France, and New Zealand who have put a block on fossil fuel exploration in their countries.

There was a boost in the fossil fuel industry exploration in Ireland late last year when Exxon Mobil, the US multinational oil corporation, took a 50 per cent stake in an Irish exploration that was due to be held this year.

The bill has also faced backlash outside of the Dáil in Ireland with a survey done by PwC, the multinational professional services network, saying a move to ban the issuing of fuel exploration licences in Ireland would pose “enormous threats” to Ireland’s energy supply and could have “devastating economic consequences”.

After the Private Members Meeting, the division was due to reconvene on March 27th in which the motion passed yet again meaning it will move on to select committee stage, leaving Ireland on its way to becoming the fifth country in the world to pass such a bill.

Aoife Horan

Image Credit: Aoife Horan