Ireland: Parliament votes to ban fossil fuel exploration

Stop Climate Chaos Coalition activists outside Ireland's parliament on February 8.

Ireland’s Dail Eireann (its lower house of parliament) voted by a large majority on February 8 in favour of a bill to ban the government issuing new contracts for oil and gas exploration, EcoWatch said the next day.

The 78-48 vote came despite strong opposition to the bill from the minority Fine Gael government. The Climate Emergency Measures Bill will now advance to the Committee Stage in the Oireachtas (the combined Irish legislature), said.

The bill was submitted by member of the Dail (TD) Brid Smith from the left-wing Solidarity-People Before Profit (S-PBP) party. It was backed by TDs from Sinn Fein, the Greens, Fianna Fai, Labour and Independents 4 Change. It was also backed by thousands of campaigners.

EcoWatch said the bill “underscores how fossil fuels are major contributors to climate change and how keeping them in the ground will prevent further damage to the environment”.

For her part, Smith said its passing to the next stage sends “a signal globally” that Ireland takes climate change seriously.

S-PBP TD Paul Murphy noted: “If fossil fuels continue to be burnt at the current rate, we will break through the two degree Celsius level which was agreed at Paris. There will be an average global temperature increase of around five degrees.

“Climate scientists estimate that at least 80% of the known fossil fuel deposits must be left in the ground, unused.”

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan said: “This truly is a historic day for environmentalism in Ireland. The tide has turned on fossil fuels, and there is widespread political support now for a just transition to renewable power.”

The Green Party’s official Twitter account noted that “we have won the battle, but not the war” and that it is important to ensure the bill does not stall at the committee stage.

Last year, Ireland also enacted legislation banning onshore fracking.

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