Stop the Study Campaign – What happened?

Recipe for a successful campaign: focussed, multi-faceted approach!

GEAI, together with other campaigners against fracking, was involved in a series of actions to raise national awareness of the current situation around the EPA Research Study on fracking and to put pressure on government to address policy on this issue.

On 8th September, a delegation from the Environmental Pillar, including our Director, Aedín McLoughlin, met the EPA.  During the course of the meeting, a progress report on the Research Study on Fracking was given to the delegation which showed clearly that the Study is being led and largely carried out by CDM Smith and Amec, both service providers to the oil and gas industry.  Queen’s University, which underpinned the independence of the study, was stated not to be part of the research consortium (also such was maintained).

Given this information, GEAI decided to initiate the “Stop the Study” campaign.  Campaign activities took place from September to December and included:

  • September – December: Social media campaign, including Facebook, Twitter, Emails, Petition, press releases, radio interviews, letter-writing and personal contacts.  Local TDs and members of JOC on Communications were specifically targeted as well as others.
  • 17th September: Organisation of a public meeting in North Leitrim, attended by over 100 people and widely reported.
  • 5th November: Rally outside Leinster House attended by GEAI, FOE, Northwest campaigners, No Fracking Dublin and others.
  • 5th November: Meeting in Leinster House AV Room where presentations were made by GEAI, FOE, Green Party and Love Leitrim to TDs, Senators, MEPs and others.
  • 29th November: Attendance at Climate March in Dublin.  GEAI hosted Julia Walsh, a lead campaigner from Frack Action New York who spoke at the March.  After the march, we attended a meeting of People Before Profit to brief them on fracking and impacts on health.
  • 2nd December: EPA was brought before Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting.  During 3 hours questioning, EPA admitted that the Research Study would not tell us if fracking can be done safely.
  • 2nd December: Attended meeting of Young FOE, gave presentation on the campaign.
  • 15th December:  Junior Minister Joe McHugh said during Dáil Debates that an Interim Report from the Research Study would be produced by the end of January.  No on-land water and seismic studies will proceed until this report is considered.
  • 17th December:  Richard Boyd Barrett TD introduced a Bill to ban fracking in Ireland.  This Bill was largely written by Kate Ruddock (FOE) and Assumpta O’Broin (An Taisce).
Results of campaign. 
  • Huge awareness-raising, especially in Dublin.
  • Oireachtas made aware that all was not right with EPA Research Study.
  • Many Dail questions put to Minister and Junior Minister.
  • Interim report on Research Study now requested from Steering Committee by end January.
  • On-the-ground water and seismic studies delayed until after publication.
  • Study effectively at a standstill.
  • Bill to prohibit fracking in Ireland introduced. This will keep the issue in the public eye.

 

Local communities to benefit from Energy Efficiency Grants

Minister for Energy Alex White, TD, Wednesday announced €20 million in grant offers for local communities under the 2016 Better Energy Communities scheme.

Media Release
09th December 2015

Minister for Energy Alex White, TD, today (Wednesday) announced €20 million in grant offers for local communities under the 2016 Better Energy Communities scheme. The scheme, which is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), has supported 260 community energy efficiency projects over the last four years. As a result over 12,000 homes and community buildings have received energy efficiency upgrades, supporting several hundred jobs each year.

Minister White said: “This funding will enable the Better Energy Communities programme to continue to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions, while improving living standards and quality of life for the people and communities it supports. The building upgrades funded under the programme support local construction jobs, demonstrating that lower-carbon communities also reap positive economic and social benefits. The programme has grown year on year as communities work together to bring about real and lasting change in the energy efficiency of their homes, businesses and community buildings. Putting communities in control of their own energy usage will be among the core themes of the energy white paper, which I will publish next week.”

Better Energy Communities 2016 will open for applications in the New Year and potential applicants are being encouraged to start engaging early with community partners for large or small projects. The 2016 programme will see a particular focus on innovative financing models and SEAI is encouraging applications from communities that haven’t previously availed of the scheme. This will be supported by SEAI through the provision of expert technical guidance and assistance to build up skills and capacity at a local level to allow them to develop into a Sustainable Energy Community.

An example of a community that has benefited from the Better Energy Communities programme already is Camphill Community, a charitable trust working with people with intellectual disabilities. Camphill Community teamed up with Glas Energy to make 99 buildings across the public and private sectors more energy efficient. Another community project has seen businesses, not-for-profit organisations and local government unite across Cavan and Monaghan to cut energy waste. The energy services provider, REIL, led an extensive cooperation among a wide range of sectors including chicken producer Manor Farm, commercial poultry farmers, the Monaghan and Cavan County Councils, 44 homes, a school and crèche to improve the energy performance of buildings.

Commenting on the innovation demonstrated in BEC projects John Randles, Head of Delivery with SEAI said, “Better Energy Communities is one of SEAI’s key programmes which brings benefits to private, public and community organisations whilst they collaborate and demonstrate that energy efficient and renewable technologies work. This is often achieved by innovative partnerships and innovative financing and delivery solutions. The projects being delivered are becoming more ambitious as the programme has grown and this is thanks to the outstanding and combined efforts of so many willing partners who are focused on a common goal for their community.”

Mr Randles concluded, “With almost €20 million in grants available in 2016, SEAI would like to see new ways of delivering the projects that can bring the maximum benefit to local areas.”

Further details on the application process for Better Energy Communities 2016, including guidance notes, will shortly be available on http://www.seai.ie.

Lima climate summit postpones key decisions until 2015

Lima Climate summit a disappointment

logo_Lima_climate_action_H-624x229The vital Lima climate summit was a disappointment.  Governments have to put individual climate pledges on table in the first half of next year, forming the foundations of the global climate agreement due in Paris next December.  However, many of the big issues that have plagued the talks for years were shirked and left for later. (Daily tck). Overall, this COP shows governments are disconnected from their people who are worried about climate risks and want a just transition to boost our economies, deliver jobs and strengthen public health.

On a positive note, negotiators  were in sync with the emerging consensus around the world that we need to phase out fossil fuels, illustrated by this phaseout being listed as one of the options in the draft outline for the Paris agreement. Governments acknowledged that they have a May deadline for turning that current list of options for the Paris agreement into a legal negotiating text. This means real work on the Paris agreement must get underway at the next session in February in Geneva.

The final result of Lima is a 4 page document (almost incomprehensible) approved unanimously 30 hours behind schedule, where all the countries commit themselves to reduce greenhouse emissions but without a fixed goal. The document they agreed is still groundbreaking in its scope, but it left a lot of work to be done ahead of the conference in Paris.

Feelings were mixed after the summit . “We were pleased to see around 100 countries support the goal of phasing out carbon emissions by mid-century. The goal’s inclusion in the draft text is a win for the fossil fuel divestment movement and will add momentum to that growing campaign. But action must begin now, not after decades of delay”, 350.org communications director Jamie Hennsaid told to The Guardian. Even countries like China, which recently acheived a climate agreement with the US, said that “we’re not very satisfied with the outcome, but we think it’s a balanced and nice document”.

Other leaders, like the former Irish president Mary Robinson showed a bigger disappointment: “not enough was done by countries who can afford to wait.  The leaders of countries whose people are suffering now, who are most at risk and have least resources to mobilise for protection compromised the most. Because they can’t afford to wait – they are negotiating for lives,” she stated.

Ireland didn’t play a great role in Lima.

The first day, the country was awarded “Fossil of the Day” after beign one of the four developed countries along with Austria, Belgium and Australia that haven’t contributed to the Green Climate Fund, designed to help developing countries to mitigate the consequences of climate change. Just a few days after Australia and Belgium announced their contributions to the Fund, but not Ireland.

The Minister for Environment, Alex White TD, hardly referred to the Fund during his speech at the Lima summit, just saying that “we are actively exploring all options for scaling up our mobilisation of climate finance, including in relation to the Green Climate Fund”, despite his pledge of Irish action on climate change.  Obviously, he had not been given a mandate to pledge any money.

Now the road is open for the 2015 Paris summit, where a final agreement must be reach if the world want to stops climate change.

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