The Irish government’s attempts to fast-track the controversial Shannon Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) import terminal project represent a giant leap backwards regarding climate action, according to An Taisce.

The notion of opening a massive terminal to facilitate the import of fracked gas from the US after Ireland has introduced a domestic ban on gas fracking defies all logic and flies in the face of expert scientific advice regarding emissions reductions.

An Taisce welcomes the government’s decision to hold a Dáil debate tomorrow (Thurs, 3rd Oct 2019), as confirmed by Bríd Smith, TD of People Before Profit (PBP). More than 40 TDs are understood to have signed a PBP motion opposing the government’s decision to designate the Shannon LNG project as a ‘Project of Common Interest’ on the European Commission’s list.

The European Commission is due to meet this Friday (4th Oct 2019) to consider approval for the Shannon LNG project, with the government supporting the project. The Oireachtas joint committee on Climate Action is due to discuss fracked gas importation next week, which means if the government succeeds in getting EC approval this Friday, it will have done so without its own Oireachtas Committee having had an opportunity to review the evidence and advise the government.

Projects of common interest (PCIs) are key cross-border infrastructure projects linking energy systems in EU countries to enable energy policy, including long-term decarbonisation, in accordance with the Paris climate change agreement. Projects placed on this list receive the highest priority in terms of state support.

The proposed Shannon LNG terminal, operated by New Fortress Energy, will be capable of processing more than six million gallons of LNG daily and may be part-funded by the Irish taxpayer. “This project locks us into an unsustainable, fossil-fuelled energy system for the foreseeable future, using fracked gas, which is every bit as environmentally damaging as coal or even peat burning”, according to John Gibbons, An Taisce spokeperson on Climate Action. Apart from the emissions from burning this fossil fuel, hydraulically fractured (‘fracked’) gas contaminates groundwater and soil, leads to substantial fugitive methane emissions and can increase the risk of earthquakes.

“Shipping this environmentally damaging product thousands of miles across the Atlantic to have it burned in Ireland is the very opposite of climate action. We need to be rapidly decarbonising our energy systems, not replacing one bad system with an equally dangerous alternative”, Mr Gibbons added.

The energy and environmental landscape has shifted significantly since the original Shannon LNG project was granted planning permission in 2008. Four years ago, the Irish parliament passed the Climate Action law to give effect to government policy of reducing Irish carbon dioxide emissions by at least 80% by 2050. A subsequent Energy White Paper adopted by government upped the target for the energy sector of cutting emissions from 80 to 95% by 2050. An Taisce points out that these ambitious (but still inadequate) targets for decarbonising Ireland’s energy system would become impossible to realise if costly new LNG infrastructure is locked into place for the next several decades.

Contact: John Gibbons, PRO, An Taisce climate change committee, 087 233 2689

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