Shame on Ireland – “Fossil of the Day” in Lima

Ireland is one of only FOUR countries in the ‘developed’ world who have not contributed to the Green Climate Fund, designed to support developing countries to fight climate change while growing economically. At the UN Climate talks in Lima this week, Ireland, Australia, Belgium and Austria were given the first “Fossil of the Day” award, making them very conspicuous by their absence from the fund.

Only last September at the Climate Change conference in New York, Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated that Ireland had contributed generously to climate finance for developing countries “despite our very challenging economic and fiscal circumstances in recent years”. He went on to say that Ireland has a strong and proud track record. “We are working within the EU to ensure a fair and effective burden-sharing of the EU’s overall commitment and we are implementing legislation to underpin our climate change efforts.”

Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) Director, Dr Aedín McLoughlin, stated that “The absence of contribution to the global Green Climate Fund is a disgrace for Ireland. It is a well-documented fact that Climate Change affects developing countries much more that richer ones, who can afford to put adaptive measures in place. It is also true that “developed” countries are the source of over 80% of carbon emissions that are the cause of climate change. We therefore have an obligation to assist in tackling climate change throughout the developing world.

Are the Taoiseach’s words just script to make us look good, while the reality is that Ireland is not prepared to support climate action? Do we not care about the profound changes affecting the whole globe? Are the recent discussions on Energy Policy just empty words?

We have a proud history of supporting the human and economic development of poorer countries and we cannot separate aid for economic development from aid for climate change programmes. Our ex-President, Mary Robinson has recently been appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is the UN Special Envoy for Climate Change on the basis of her work on climate justice. “Building on her work on climate justice she will engage Heads of State and Government around the world in order to mobilize political will and action, and raise ambition.” said the announcement from Mr. Ban’s office. Surely the Irish Government should be the first to respond to her call?

GEAI calls on the Government to act as World Leaders in this vital area. “Ireland has a responsibility to be at the forefront of action on climate change – to show by example what can be done in our own country to reduce carbon emissions and to assist by every means the green development of poorer countries faced by extreme weather conditions, droughts, floods, changes in seasons and food shortages”.

Link to the original Press Release.

EPA Terms of Reference “Amended and Strengthened”

Terms of Reference of EPA research study on Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction (UGEE)

Making your voice heard matters!  In response to over 1,300 submissions, a ‘Health Expert’ is now on the Steering Committee for the research study.  The final Terms of Reference (ToR) for the EPA study were published on 22nd November. There are many amendments to the draft version, indicating the high quality and impact of the submissions.
Significant changes to the Terms of Reference include:

1. Human Health

• A new section has been added to the ToR to clarify and clearly define the scope of the proposed research in relation to Human Health.
• A Health expert has been invited onto the Steering Committee.
• The potential role of Health Impact Assessment in regulation of UGEE projects/operations is to be studied and recommendations made towards developing a protocol in the island of Ireland context.

2. Life Cycle of UGEE

• The full life-cycle of hydraulic fracturing activities, as well as off-site and other developments, is to be included in the study.
• The Key Research Questions have been amended to:

  • Can UGEE projects/operations be carried out in the island of Ireland whilst also protecting the environment and human health?
  • What is ‘best environmental practice’ in relation to UGEE projects/operations?”

• The cumulative environmental impacts arising from the entire lifecycle of UGEE projects/operations will be compared with those from other energy sources (including renewables).
• With regard to impacts, the assessment should take into account commercially probable scenarios.
• The Revised ToR now has a specific requirement to take account of the Irish context for references and comparisons to UGEE experience in other countries.

3. Water and Chemicals

• The Revised ToR have been extended to include surface waters and implications for local, regional and national resources, the water requirements for UGEE projects/operations is to be evaluated as well as groundwater and surface water resource availability.
• The Final Report should include a comprehensive list of all chemicals known to have been used in UGEE projects/operations.
• If chemical-free fracking is included in the research, it should be clearly pointed out where and for how long such methods have been used on a commercial basis, stating whether there are any peer-reviewed studies into the impacts associated with these methods to the environment and human health.

4. Monitoring

• A study on Air Quality monitoring requirements is to be included.
• The research will assess the concept of the monitoring to be carried out by State agencies versus by industries.

Full Terms of Reference document

“What You Said and how We Responded” – EPA responses to Public Consultation Submissions

Synopsis of Responses with Comments by AMcL

Deborah Rogers: The economics of fracking

Deborah Rogers – Founder of EnergyPolicyForum and critic of Fracking

Deborah Rogers is an expert in the economics of shale gas and an advisor to the Obama administration.  Speaking at the 2030 Vision conference in Carrick-on-Shannon this month, she made it clear that the shale gas industry in the US is now in deep trouble.  The basic reason for this is that initially it was assumed that shale gas wells would behave much like conventional wells (tapping into an underground reservoir of gas) with a lifetime of 20 years.  All production and cash projections were based on this assumption, which turned out to be hopelessly optimistic.  In fact, the average productive shale gas well has a lifetime of 3 – 5 years only.

Deborah Rogers at 2030 Vision conferenceBased on those initial projections, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and some leasing companies made fortunes. Drilling companies went into huge debt, encouraged by investment banks that made millions in fees.  Initially easily accessible gas was produced.  However, the wells started drying up far sooner than anticipated and the companies continued to drill more and more wells to meet their production targets, motivated by the cost of loans taken out.  They cannot stop, resulting in a glut of gas and the price has plummeted. The selling price of gas at present is roughly half the cost of production, so all shale gas companies are losing money.

“The whole thing doesn’t make sense”, said Ms Rogers.  “Many of the big players have written down their assets, including BP, Encana and Chesapeake. The Marcellus shale gas reserve estimates are down by 80%.  The recovery efficiency for the five major shale gas plays averages 6.5% compared with 75–80% for conventional gas fields.  The biggest companies, e.g. Exxon-Mobil, are now selling their assets.  Is the shale gas bubble soon going to deflate?”

“In the meantime, the drilling frenzy continues with collateral damage in the form of air pollution, ground water depletion, road damages and potential aquifer ruination”, she continued.  “This is immense and will only continue to rise as more and more wells need to be drilled. None of these impacts are at present covered financially by the gas companies – in other words, profits are to be privatized while costs and negative impacts will be borne by the people. “

“2030 Vision – The Future of Energy in Ireland” conference was organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) to look at the choices of energy sources that Ireland has to make in the future.  Speakers included Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Green Party, who gave an inspirational talk on the potential of renewable energy sources, in particular wind energy, to substitute for hydrocarbons.  The conference was part-funded by Leitrim County Council through the Agenda 21 programme.

Link to Deborah Roger’s presentation at 2030 Vision Conference: http://bit.ly/GJjt2Q

Profile of Deborah Rogers

Deb RogersDeborah Rogers lives in Texas, US. She has worked as a financial consultant for several major Wall Street firms, including Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney. Ms Rogers was appointed as a primary member to the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI), an advisory committee within the U.S. Department of Interior, in 2013 for a three year term. In May 2013, she was invited to testify before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. She was appointed in 2011 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to a task force reviewing placement of air monitors in the Barnett Shale region in light of air quality concerns brought about by the natural gas operations in North Texas. In June of 2012, she was invited to speak in Rio de Janeiro at the International Society for Ecological Economics in conjunction with the United Nations Rio+20 world summit

A serious gap in the decision-making process on fracking

How fracking transforms land (Photo: Huffington Post)

Minister for Energy, Pat Rabbitte, gave a speech on 17th April in Royal Irish Academy which confirmed that, despite 1,300 submissions being made to the EPA, the majority of which demanded a study of the health impacts of fracking, the proposed research study on fracking is confined to identifying “best practice in respect of environmental protection for the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques”.
This excludes the stages of pad construction, drilling of wells, gas extraction and treatment, gas transport and site reclamation, all of which add their own risks to communities and to health.  It is therefore far too restrictive.  Many submissions made to the EPA pointed out this fact.  Why is the Minister not listening to the people?
It is also extremely disturbing that no health study is proposed despite the clear wishes of the people.  The EPA study, as described, appears to be an exercise designed to pave the way for fracking.  The project proposed for Leitrim would take over vast tracts of land and industrialise them, changing the landscape and way of life for its communities forever.  No regulations or “best practice” would be able to prevent contamination risks to ground and surface water, air pollution, noise, disturbance and accidents.
Minister Rabbitte went on to state that “The shale revolution is a game-changer”.  We dispute this.  Shale gas does not change the game of burning fossil fuels; it is not clean energy, despite the propaganda of the oil/gas industry; it is not a sustainable source of energy, disappearing once the gas is extracted; the gas produced would belong to the industry, not to the people, and would be sold on the international market at the market price.  Fracking will NOT bring cheap gas to Ireland, nor will it make us energy-secure.
Good Energies Alliance Ireland believes that we should be moving forward on the path towards making Ireland carbon-neutral by 2050 and ensuring that all decisions made on energy sources, uses and allocation of resources reflects this priority.  Shale gas is not the answer!
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a recent report that “Governments have the power to create markets and policies that accelerate development and deployment of clean energy technologies, yet the potential of these technologies remains largely untapped.”
Ireland has a choice – to go down the fracking route and destroy our rural communities and international reputation or be a world leader in the move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources.

Mega-extractive Industries – from Latin America to Ireland

[Press Release]  The Social and Environmental Impact of Mega-extractive Industries, from Latin America to Ireland
 513px-Mina_cerro_pascoAs part of the Latin America Week (4th – 13th April), a meeting to raise awareness of the issues around unsustainable exploitation of natural resources is being organised by the Latin American Solidarity Centre in conjunction with community leaders in Leitrim.
Presentation in Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon on Thursday April 11th at 8pm.
 With the rise of the price of oil, gold and coal, a global scramble for natural resources has been unleashed by mega-extractive multinational corporations, with repercussions from Latin America’s unsustainable open cast mining to Ireland’s fracking proposals.
 The meeting will focus on examples from Colombia and Peru, presented by two community leaders, to see the impact on the communities and how they organise to face this threat. This will open up debate around the campaign against fracking in Ireland and discussion about the similarities and difference.  Campaigners against fracking are supporting this visit to Leitrim and hosting the speakers during 11th and 12th April.
 According to LASC coordinator “Given the current crisis affecting communities all across Ireland, the Latin American experience is insightful and full of valuable lessons of resilience, resistance and creativity”. Our emphasis is not only on the impact of the unsustainable exploitation of resources, but on the potential for community based alternatives of development.
About the speakers
 MILTON SÁNCHEZ CUBAS. From Peru.  President of the Celendin Interinstitutional Platform (PIC), a network of 40 grassroots organisations from Celendin Department of Cajamarca, Peru. He is also the spokesperson of Comando Unitario de Lucha, which is a network of grassroots organisations whose aim is to defend the natural resources of the Region of Cajamarca which are threatened by the extractive industries operating in the region. He will talk about the La Conga mining project which is a project of the Yanacocha company. Shareholdes are Newmont (USA), Buenavertura (Perú) and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation. This is the greatest mining project ever in Peru and it will impact rives, lakes which in turn will affect local agriculture and the health of 200 communities in 3 provinces.  5 people have been killed and 104 have been injured since resistance to the project began.
AIDA JULIETA QUIÑONES TORRES, Colombia – Lecturer and PhD student in Universidad Javeriana. Member of the Environmental Committee for the Defense of Life which monitors the socio-environmental impact of the La Colosa mine, in the department of Tolima, Colombia. Aida is a militant researcher on the issue of resistance to 3 mining mega-projects in Colombia.  In all three cases there is a military presence and militia which is acting illegally and escalating the conflicts.
These cases are:
  • The gold mine of La Colosa, Cajamarca-Tolima – population: small farming communities. Transnational Anglo gold Ashanti has been carrying out illegal explorations with a view to have one of the biggest open cast mines in South America. The mine is in a natural reserve.  In previous projects in this mine, a family – including a baby – was murdered by state agents.
  • Sa´th Tama Kiwe – mining concessions have been given in this indigenous ancestral land. The indigenous people have been resisting.
  • La Toma- Suarez in Cauca – mining concession given without consulting the community, which is mainly of African origin. There is also resistance form the population.
 Photo: Mining in Peru:  Wikimedia Commons Images

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