Thursday, 29 April 2021
Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021: Second Stage (Resumed)
While I welcome this Bill as a step in the right direction, it must be acknowledged that we are very much on the back foot in the fight against climate change. I am deeply concerned by the notable lack of several important elements that are needed to tackle climate change effectively. The legislation does not include a number of commitments made in the programme for Government, which is very telling about the priorities of a certain party of government when it comes to climate action. Where is the provision for a meaningful just transition? Without it, communities will be left behind and public buy-in to a decarbonised future will be lost.
I am concerned that the Bill does not include a ban on the importing of fracked gas into Ireland. That is a missed opportunity. We share our world and no nation can stop this crisis on its own. That is why our actions must be of a collective mindset. By allowing the importation of fracked gas, we are, by default, making Ireland a supporter of fracking. It seems the only concern is that the fracking is not done in this country and in our sight. Profits reign superior to the environment and local communities. This missed opportunity reminds me of when the EU banned the use of dangerous pesticides, which was the correct stance to take. However, it allowed the large chemical corporations to continue to manufacture and export those harmful pesticides to the global south, thereby ensuring their profits at the expense of others. When it comes to climate action, an attitude of see no evil and hear no evil is fooling no one. Fracked gas might appear cheap but it comes with a heavy and very damaging cost to our environment.
Climate action is a huge step and we all need to play our part in it. There is much talk about global change and global action but we seem to ignore what is happening on our own doorstep. The Ringsend waste water treatment plant on the Poolbeg Peninsula regularly discharges raw sewage into Dublin Bay, mostly during winter. The condition of the water last weekend was disgusting. While it may not have contained raw sewage, it was not of a quality such that I would let a child or dog paddle in it. People should not be afraid of what they might step in on the beach at Sandymount Strand. Last summer, residents found the beach was almost unusable because of an algae bloom. The experts tell us this is a natural occurrence. Algae bloom may be natural but the amount that grows on Sandymount Strand is not natural. It grows in such volumes because of the particulates discharged into Dublin Bay. For many months of the year, it makes Sandymount Strand a no-go zone. This is not good enough. We need a short-term engineering solution to stop the regular discharges into Dublin Bay from the waste water treatment plant. We need the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, and Dublin City Council to carry out an audit of the heavy industries on the Poolbeg peninsula and to heavily fine or shut down any that are not compliant with good practice. Dublin Bay is too important an amenity to do otherwise.