Science against the importation of US fracked gas into Ireland via
LNG tankers has finally spoken out loud and clear to the Climate Action
Committee of the Irish Legistlature and the frightening message was
heard and understood by everybody present. It was a message which can
only lead in one direction - a total ban on the importation of US
fracked gas into Ireland. |
Giving special witness testimonony,
world-renowned expert on the global methane cycle, New York's Cornell
University Professor, Rowert W. Howarth, told the Climate Action
Committee on October 9th 2019 that "if Ireland were to import LNG from the United States, it would largely be shale gas". He said that "Methane is an incredibly powerful greenhouse gas, more than 100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide compared gram to gram". His latest peer-reviewed research has found that "shale
gas development in North America is the single largest driver of this
increase in methane, accounting for one-third of the increase in global
emissions from all sources". He went on to "estimate
that the use of shale gas imported as LNG to Ireland, would create
greenhouse gas emissions of 156g CO2-equivalents per MJ, or a
foot-print 44% greater than that of coal". He very eloquently urged Ireland to prohibit the importation of fracked shale gas from the United States.
In oral testimony, Professor Howarth explained that "if
we do not reduce methane emissions, the Earth will shoot through the 2
degree Celsius mark within the next 20 to 30 years, with devasting
Professor Barry McMullin of Dublin City
University, also giving expert testimony, speaking of the potential
impact of reducing methane emissions rapidly, told the Climate
Committee that "the big win from such a reduction would be that it buys us more time.
Methane is faster acting, which means that an effective reduction in
methane emissions in the short term would buy us some desparately
needed time to do this complete reconstruction of our energy system".
Reacting to Professor McMullin's comment, Professor Howarth agreed, He explained:
agree with my colleague. Reduced methane emissions can slow the rate of
global warming more quickly than reduced emissions of carbon dioxide,
where there is a lag of several decades due to uptake, and release by
the oceans. If we are serious about trying to minimise the risk of
major thresholds in the climate system and irreversible runaway global
warming, we need to try to keep the increase will below 2 degrees
celsius. We do not have until 2050 to do that. We need to start moving
that way now. It absolutely requires reducing methane emissions. I do
not buy the idea of natural gas as a bridge or transitional fuel at all".
Julia Walsh, from 'Frack Action' travelled over from the New York, where fracking is now banned, to tell the Committee that
Ireland imports fracked gas at the Shannon LNG terminal, it will be
locking itself into more than a decade of complicity in harming the
people and children of Pennsylvania. In recent months, the 'Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette' has investigated and found at least 67 diagnoses of
cancers, some of which are exteremely rare, in children in just four
rural, heavily fracked counties of the state. Health professionals are
alarmed by this. As I previously stated, there are now more than 1,500
scientific studies and reports in the United States which
overwhelmingly show the harm caused by fracking".
Doctor Paul Deane of the MaREI Centre at University College Cork said that
"Ireland could sustain an interruption period of up to ten months without the need for LNG infrastructure".
Doctor Deane said:
essence, the question is whether we need LNG. From the detailed
modelling we have undertaken in UCC, it is not entirely obvious that
LNG infrastructure will be required in Ireland. We have modelled in detail supply
interruptions coming from Russia and independently coming from Norway
and north Africa. The lights have remained on in Ireland in all our
simulations, which points to the fact that LNG infrastructure may not
be required within Ireland".
He also pointed out that
"we are very lucky to have a
resilient gas infrastructure and the recent twinning of the gas pipes
coming from Scotland to Ireland has increased that resilience even
Doctor Deane also agreed with Professor McMullin that
of our gas is used to provide electricity, while the addition of the
electricity interconnector between Ireland and France [...] will
further reduce Ireland's need for imported gas".
Eddie Mitchell of 'Love Letrim',
whose campaigning, along with that of scores of other environmental
groups, helped bring in the Fracking Ban in Ireland in 2017 had strong
words for locals supporting the project in the hope of jobs and
economic development in the region when he told the Committee:
would be very angry if I was a member of that community because people
have been wasting their time for the past couple of years after we
banned fracking. The general public did not know this was fracked gas
but plenty of people did. This should have been more transparent.
People should have understood that it was fracked gas. An alternative
project could have been found for that site by now, something that
could have contributed to the community, which needs jobs. People have been wasting that community's time".
1. Joint Committee on Climate Action Debate, Wed October 9th, 2019: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_committee_on_climate_action/2019-10-09/2/