Ireland will pay Saudi sheikhs, Russian oligarchs for oil if exploration banned - Bruton
Green Party leader claims Fine Gael is ’burning its reputation on climate change’
Gren Party leader Eamon Ryan told the Dáil we have some of the strongest winds in the world’. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ireland will be paying Saudi Arabian sheikhs and Russian oligarchs more for oil and gas if exploration is not allowed to continue while the State transitions to renewable energy, the Dáil has been warned.
Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton insisted that preventing new domestic sources of gas being found “will not reduce our greenhouse emissions by one gram”.
All it would do was “change our dependence on domestic-sourced gas to dependence on overseas gas or oil”, he said.
Mr Bruton defended the Government against stinging criticism from Green Party leader Eamon Ryan who accused them of “burning Fine Gael’s reputation on climate change”.
Mr Ryan hit out at the Government’s decision earlier this week to delay progress on legislation to ban exploration for fossil fuels, a move he described as a “scandalous disregard to this House”.
The Government had previously said it would accept the Petroleum and Other Minerals (Amendment) (Climate Emergency Measures) Bill introduced by People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith.
But the Minister said the Bill would have cost implications for the Exchequer and a ‘money message’ would be needed to allow it proceed.
Mr Ryan said three pockets of gas had been found in the past 30 to 40 years from 160 exploration attempts and even if there was a find, it would be cheaper, easier and less contentious to ship it to a refinery harbour elsewhere. “It therefore give us no real security,” he said.
If the focus was on the development of offshore wind where Ireland had “massive comparative competitive advantage, we really could provide an energy power supply for the future”.
Mr Bruton said the only countries that had taken Mr Ryan’s approach were France which has huge nuclear resources, and New Zealand, which he said had huge geothermal and hydro resources.
The Green Party leader said that Ireland’s equivalent to France and New Zealand is offshore wind.
“We have some of the strongest winds in the world and the technology is there to collect and export it.”
He said “all we are doing by going out looking for more of it (oil) is adding to a store of oil that is going to burn our planet”.
The Minister agreed there was great opportunity for wind energy and the ambition was to have 70 per cent of power generated from renewable sources.
“However when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine we still need alternatives and back-up.”
He said that “pretending that there is a magic bullet or that by stopping exploration suddenly Irish people would and to be burning coal, oil or gas is an illusion”.
People were too dependent on these fuels and we have to help them break that dependency.