July 10, 2018

Oisin Coghlan, oisin [at]
Greg Muttitt, greg [at]

International Study: No Room for New Gas in Ireland’s Energy Transition

Drilling for more new gas in Irish waters not compatible with achieving the Paris Agreement

A new study by Oil Change International has found that drilling for more new gas in Irish waters is not compatible with achieving the Paris Agreement to limit climate change. The report assesses the role of fossil gas in the energy system against the background of Ireland’s own decarbonization targets, and our obligations under the Paris Agreement.

Its publication comes as Oil Change International’s Research Director, Greg Muttitt, appears before the Oireachtas climate and environment committee as it resumes its hearings on the Climate Emergency Bill, which would prohibit licenses for further oil and gas exploration. Before presenting to the Oireachtas Committee, Muttitt, said:

“Ireland’s targets cannot be achieved without a major reduction in fossil fuel consumption. This report finds that gas is no exception to that rule, and that further development of gas extraction, or import infrastructure, can serve only to undermine the country’s progress toward reaching its climate goals.

“More gas obstructs the introduction of renewables for homes and businesses and associated gas infrastructure locks-in even higher emissions. New gas competes with wind and solar rather than coal. Claims that new fossil gas is required to balance peaks and troughs in power supply and demand to not stand up to scrutiny. Renewable energy, battery storage, demand response and energy efficiency should all be prioritized ahead of more gas capacity.”

Reacting to the report, Director of Friends of the Earth Oisin Coghlan commented:

“This report shows there is no room for new gas in Ireland’s energy transition. New gas is a block not a bridge to clean energy, and could lock us in to pollution for decades after we need to off dirty fossil fuels.

“Gas is not a nicotine patch or an e-cigarette in our struggle to end our addiction to fossil fuels. ‘Low-carbon gas’ is like those ‘low-tar cigarettes’ that turned out to be marketing spin by big business trying to delay action to protect public health.

“The Oil Change report highlights the importance of the Climate Emergency Measures Bill, currently being discussed in the Oireachtas, which would bring to an end future licences for oil and gas extraction.”

The report shows that developing new gas production, power stations and infrastructure is not consistent with Paris Agreement commitment. To achieve Paris, the report finds, all new energy development must be zero-carbon. Oil Change International put forward five key reasons on why more fossil gas cannot be part of the energy transition:

  1. Climate goals require the power sector to be decarbonized by mid-century.
  2. New fossil gas holds back renewable energy, displacing wind and solar more than coal.
  3. More gas is not needed in the clean energy transition to balance renewables.
  4. New gas infrastructure locks in polluting missions.
  5. There is already too much fossil fuels being burned globally.

On Tuesday 10 July, Oil Change International will be presenting at the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Change and the Environment, which is holding hearings as part of its detailed scrutiny of the Climate Emergency Measures Bill.

Notes for the Editor:

  • Details of the Climate Emergency Measures Bill are here.
  • Ireland is the third highest producer of emissions per person in the EU, and eighth in the OECD with polluting emissions increasing by 3.7% in 2015. Ireland is one of seven EU Member States which is set to miss its 2020 emission reduction targets under the EU Effort Sharing Decision. Ireland is also the only one of these seven States where emissions are predicted to continue to rise. See analysis from European Environment Agency here.
  • In May 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency emphasized the need to urgently move away from fossil fuels. The EPA’s latest projections show that Ireland’s total polluting emissions will increase from current levels to 2020. This is despite an EU target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent on 2005 levels from the non-Emissions Trading Scheme (non-ETS) sector – agriculture, transport, residential, commercial, non-energy intensive industry and waste. Their projections show that, at best, Ireland will only achieve a one per cent reduction by 2020 compared to the 20 per cent reduction target.
  • Last year, the Climate Change Performance Index noted Ireland as being the worst performing country in Europe for action on climate change. The Index placed Ireland 49th out of 56 countries.