Thursday, 3 October 2019
Development of a Liquefied Natural Gas Facility in Ireland: Statements
Gabhaim buíochas don Teachta Bríd Smith as ucht an bhrú a chur sí ar an Dáil chun an t-ábhar seo a phlé.
There is a danger here if the Minister listens with closed ears and thinks this is just the same old stuff from the Opposition on the radical left. It is a serious problem for democracy if that is the approach he is taking. I have repeatedly spoken on climate change since I came into this Chamber; indeed, I could quote any speech I have made since May 2016. Ireland has the third highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in Europe and, for the past three years, we have been bottom of the scorecard. I could pick any statistic but I do not wish to. What is really important for me here today is that, last night, the Minister stood up and talked about more engagement with young people. I said that the time for engagement has passed. It is time to show leadership and to show young people they can trust us. The Minister does not even have to agree with me, but if we give across a message that we are hypocrites who are saying one thing and doing another, that is a serious difficulty, but it is exactly what is happening here.
Ireland's emissions are the third worst in Europe and have risen since 1990. The Minister is waving an action plan at me, yet he is going to give a thumbs up to this initiative tomorrow. There is something seriously wrong somewhere.
I am pleased this will be debated at the committee next week.
I welcome that. I hope the Minister will tell us that no decision will be made tomorrow because that is what a rational, intelligent human being would do based on scientific evidence. I keep repeating that many Deputies were hauled into the audiovisual room to hear about the importance of making decisions based on science. Science Foundation Ireland told us how important that was. We know that the scientific evidence is beyond dispute. I feel like a broken record repeating that message and that the window of opportunity continues to narrow. I wonder how the Minister, as a human being, responds to the fact that as the window narrows, he is still trying to stand over a decision such as the one to be taken tomorrow without debate. The Minister has had words such as "hypocrite" hurled at him? These are not helpful words, and I, too, have used them, but this is the space we are in we see what the Government is doing and its denial of climate change. On the one hand, it produces report after report while, on the other, it plans to state tomorrow that this is a vital project of common interest that does not even need to be discussed in the Dáil because the Government knows what is best.
The Government promised an energy review. That will be crucial because we rely on energy to keep our people alive and the economy going. The Minister should fast-track that review and should not make decisions that pre-empt it. When will we get that review? To describe gas as essential pre-empts the review and amounts to a complete denial of the scientific evidence. The Minister should read the biodiversity report and the latest report on our oceans adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change before asking himself how he can possibly live with the cognitive dissonance he and his Government are displaying in having plan after plan on climate change while doing the complete and utter opposite. The Opposition has a duty to highlight that. We should not get personal with the Minister but hold him to account. We are holding him to account and telling him that, as Deputy Boyd Barrett noted, he has no democratic mandate to make this decision tomorrow or to allow it to go ahead. We are asking the Minister to see sense by not proceeding, which would give the young people of Ireland and the world some hope in our leadership.