Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Amendment) (Climate Emergency Measures) Bill 2018: Second Stage [Private Members]

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

Although I will not be sure until I hear the speakers to my left, this may be an historic day for Members in that we will be able to get a climate emergency measure over the line of Second Stage.

I will explain the purpose of the Bill to those in the Chamber and those who may be listening outside. First, it is to stop all future exploration for fossil fuels in the country and to send a signal to the world that Ireland will no longer be a climate laggard, as we were described by the Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, over a week ago at a meeting in Europe, but will take its responsibility seriously in dealing with climate change.

The Bill is by no means a radical proposal. It is a modest first step that we have to take and it simply stops us looking for more sources of fossil fuels. It does so because we cannot burn them given we know that, globally, we must ensure that more than 80% of known and proved reserves on the planet remain in the ground if we are to have any hope of limiting the temperature increases to under 2° Celsius. Global temperatures have already risen over 1° Celsius compared to the pre-industrial revolution era and we are hurtling on the way to a 1.5° Celsius increase. If we take the Paris treaty and our commitments to it seriously, this House will support the Bill. If we take the national transition objective plan seriously, this House will support the Bill. If we take the national mitigation plan or the national adaptation framework seriously, this House will support the Bill. These are all Government plans and the Bill is, therefore, completely in line with Government policy.

The second purpose is to highlight in a real and concrete way what is happening to our planet and what we need to do to stop that. It also seeks to highlight how we might begin to imagine an alternative from the catastrophic climate change that humanity and the planet are now facing.

The impetus behind the Bill was the fact that, last year, the Department and the Minister granted consent to Providence Resources to start drilling for oil in the Porcupine basin. It follows a long history of granting licences for exploration and of actively encouraging exploration for oil and gas off our shores. Ironically, the Minister and the Department did this just days after this House voted to ban onshore fracking.

I want to welcome to the Visitors Gallery all of those who are here to support the Bill and, hopefully, to see its passage through the House. They have done a tremendous amount of work with Solidarity-People Before Profit in the lead-up to the production and presentation of the Bill. In particular, I refer to the young men and women from Stop Climate Chaos, Not Here, Not Anywhere, Friends of the Earth and Trócaire. I will take the opportunity to thank two very prominent climate scientists, Professor Kevin Anderson and Professor John Sweeney, for their advice, help and support.

We signed up to the Paris Agreement in 2015, having announced our commitment to limit global temperature rises to under 2° Celsius. The Taoiseach and Ministers have repeatedly announced their concern and assured us of their commitment to tackle climate change, yet we have continued to issue licences and grant consents to explore for more fossil fuels. It does not make sense. The disconnect between the rhetoric and the actions of Government and the State is startling but it is more than that. It represents the disconnect globally between what all governments and economic elites around the world say about climate change and what is actually happening to our planet, given our continued use of fossil fuels and levels of carbon dioxide emissions. The science is accepted by all except the odd man out, those like Donald Trump and Deputy Healy-Rae, but everybody else accepts the facts around the science. Globally, last year we emitted larger amounts of man-made carbon dioxide from industry and other sources than ever before in human history.

We are 27 or 28 years on from Kyoto, which was the first global conference on how to deal with climate change. Decades after the science was settled, and knowing what the consequences will be, our economic, social and political system, which is based on profit and competition, actually emits more of the gas that is unwanted and dangerous to the planet and that is guaranteed to have devastating impacts on the climate, the environment and all aspects of Earth's biodiversity.

2017 was a year that saw Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, a year that saw south-east Europe undergo a heatwave named Lucifer, a year where wildfires raged across California and was a year of record droughts, floods and other extreme weather events here and around the world. It was a year that continued the trend of record-breaking and it has entered the records as one of the warmest years ever; indeed, the warmest five years ever recorded were between 2010 and 2017.

None of this is news to the people in the Visitors Gallery, to campaigners, to Members of this House, to scientists or to researchers and I am sure it is not news to Department officials. All of these events and what will follow are the predictable outcome of the policies and actions that governments and economics elites have taken or failed to take since the Kyoto summit nearly 28 years ago. One report estimates that, between 1996 and 2015, more than 500,000 people died as a direct result of extreme weather events and there have been financial losses of over $3 trillion. Some 20 million people on the planet now face starvation and severe food shortages.

We should be under no illusions that this Bill will stop climate change. That is happening and will continue to happen even after this Bill is, hopefully, passed. However, the world I grew up in will be profoundly different and more dangerous for the people of today and their children unless we take the first step. I passionately believe we must take that first step and give an example to the rest of the world, along with countries like Costa Rica, France and Belize, which have taken this measure in order to say that something has to change and that the economic and political elites have to get their priorities right. The market system will not deal with our problems.

I will conclude by quoting John Bellamy Foster, who, when talking about us having done nothing in the 28 years since Kyoto, stated "vested interests that are tied into the fossil-fuel financial complex, and ... the higher rate of profitability in the economy to be obtained from the fossil-fuel economy" are preventing us dealing with climate change. I believe that is at the core of this problem. It is the power and greed of the fossil fuel industry that we have to begin to challenge. Let this country be one of the first few countries to stand up and have the courage to do so in order to begin to address the future of the planet and the environment for all people here and beyond.

I omitted to say that Deputy Bríd Smith is sharing time with Deputies Gino Kenny and Paul Murphy. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I welcome those in the Visitors Gallery and it is good to see so many people there. I congratulate my comrade, Deputy Bríd Smith, on this very good Bill. I believe it is a good combination of red and green and it is a measure that puts down a marker for this country and other countries that the over-reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable. Even though it is a limited measure in terms of climate change and the environment, it sends out the right message on any future exploration in this country. Fossil fuels are the past and renewable energies are the future. There can be no doubt that human activity driven by the profit system and capitalism has had and is having a detrimental effect on people, the climate and wildlife. We talk about the environment but, in the same vein, we have to talk about why the environment is being slowly destroyed. The elephant in the room starts with a C - it is capitalism. Capitalism destroys the planet constantly. Those who do not believe in climate change are in denial. What capitalism is doing to the earth is a clear and present danger.

The deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, Kevin Anderson, states that in order to deliver on the 2° Celsius climate warning target agreed at the UN conference in Paris almost three years ago, radical and rapid cuts in consumption among the world's richest consumers, who are the biggest polluters, and a re-ordering of economic priorities are necessary. I could go through a list of environmentalists, academics and politicians who constantly give the same narrative.

There are others in the House who will probably disagree, but capitalism is the clear and present danger. It is why we have climate change and are at the point of climate catastrophe. In order to make that transformation, we must transform the society we live in and the economic system that perpetrates those crimes. For the good of everyone who lives on this planet, we must address these issues. This Bill goes some way to doing that but we must change the system overall.

The name of this Bill, the Climate Emergency Measures Bill, is important. Just as when we talk about the housing crisis, it is vital we call things what they are and in this case we have an emergency, a catastrophe which threatens humanity. Instead of recognising that, political leaders around the world largely fiddle while the world burns, because of the interests they represent, whether they be agribusiness or fossil fuels. They ignore the severity of the problem and pay lipservice to it while we hurtle towards a climate disaster. The most simple point that we must reiterate repeatedly in this debate, because it is unanswerable, is that the known fossil fuel reserves are already four or five times the amount that can be burned without increasing the global temperature above the 2° Celsius limit agreed in Paris, which would be catastrophic. It is that simple. It is an open and shut case as long as the profits and the share price of the fossil fuel industry does not come into it.

Even that 2° Celsius limit is too high. Globally, temperatures have already increased by almost 1° Celsius which is enough over time to melt half the ice in the Arctic as well as creating the basis for a massive increased occurrence of extreme weather events, including droughts and floods. We already see this. It is not something in the dim and distant future, rather it is happening now. Global temperatures are rising. Sixteen of the 17 warmest years on record occurred since 2001. Global warming has been concentrated in the past 35 years. In Iraq, in 2016, temperatures hit 54° Celsius, which is close to the point at which humans cannot survive outside. In Ireland, six of the ten warmest years have occurred since 1990.

The consequence of that rapid change in our environment is immense. The environment is not something separate or external to human society and how we have to live. It was an idea captured brilliantly by Karl Marx when he explained that nature is our second body. We cannot function without it, yet capitalism is destroying it. The consequences are seen in thousands dying as a result of unnecessary and extreme weather events that are not inevitable but which are caused by climate change. That figure is set to increase to up to 150,000 deaths annually from extreme weather events by the end of this century. Some 14 million people have already been made homeless due to extreme weather events. The impact on agriculture is already being seen in the threat to bees in Germany, where three quarters of all flying insects have disappeared in the past 25 years. The impact on biodiversity, agriculture and the sustainability of human existence is devastating. Some 95% of the Great Barrier Reef has suffered from bleaching which is largely irreversible. This is the canary in the coal mine, when it comes to the devastating impact of the policies we have been pursing.

It has an impact on the millions of people who have suffered malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress, a return of famine and an increase in those living in areas affected by famine in the past year. As a result, it is estimated that between 2030 and 2050 the number of additional deaths caused by climate change will be 250,000 annually. In Ireland, Hurricane Ophelia left widespread damage last October. Flooding in Donegal in 2017 has already cost €15 million in damage and repairs at current rates, and rain and flood damage is set to increase by 30% in the coming years.

The cause of this and many other examples is indisputable. It is carbon emissions through the burning of fossil fuels globally. The answer demanded by activists around the world, and those here today, is very simple: we have to keep it in the ground. Ireland's record on the environment is very poor. The Government and Ireland's political establishment should be extremely embarrassed. According to the 2018 climate change performance index, Ireland is the worst performing country in Europe in terms of taking action. It is in first place in the volume of emissions per person in Europe and is eighth highest in the world. Ireland is set to miss its EU 2020 and 2030 emission reduction targets, and greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 7% since 2015. The consequences are paid not only by people here and around the world, but they will also be paid financially to the tune of up to €600 million in fines. We also have the third highest emissions per capita of residential energy use due to our high dependence on oil, coal and peat. If we continue on this trajectory, Ireland will not be able to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide by 80% by 2050. By way of comparison, the transport sector accounts for 19% of emissions, the industrial and commercial sector, 16%, energy, 19%, and waste, 3%, with agriculture the source of the largest amount of emissions in Ireland at 33%. The agrifood sector is a major political block to change here.

Just as elsewhere in the world, it is establishment politicians who lag and people who lead. The recent Citizens' Assembly recommended by 98% that climate change be put centre stage in Irish policy making, showing widespread support for environmental issues, and 100% recommending that the State should take a leadership role and responsibility for adapting existing structures. It was the former Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, who gave the game away in Paris a year or two ago when he said that climate change is not a priority for Ireland. He gave the establishment's game away at a meeting to discuss climate change, of all places.

The Government now gives us different lipservice, which I suppose is welcome. The Taoiseach, Deputy Leo Varadkar, has said that he is not proud of Ireland's role as a climate change laggard. It is absolutely the case that there is nothing to be proud of, but will he do something about it? That is the real question. From the point of view of humanity, it makes no sense to explore for more fossil fuels, fuels that cannot be burned without destroying our environment. The only logic for exploring for more fossil fuels comes from the companies which want to increase their share price by increasing their reserves. A paper published in Nature estimated that if we are to avoid going over the 2° Celsius point, some 82% of coal worldwide cannot be burned, along with 49% of gas and 33% of oil. We cannot burn it. We should pass Second Stage today and the Government should implement the Bill. We should agree to keep such fuels in the ground and send a message around the world.

In the context of the broader picture of why this is happening, the answer is contained in some of the points about the power of the fossil fuel industry. There is an idea, with which I agree, that describes the era in which we live as the anthropocene, that humanity is having a huge impact on the environment, especially in relation to climate change. It explains the massive acceleration in world temperatures since the industrial revolution. It is not only human society in the abstract which is having an impact on the environment, but human society organised in the form of capitalism, in the private ownership of energy companies and in the means of production and the drive for profit, where the damage to nature is externalised, companies do not care about the cost to nature, where humanity has been disconnected from nature as a result of that drive to profit, and where just 90 major companies have created 63% of the cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide since 1751.

As Friedrich Engels observed "We do not merely want an amelioration of the present society but the establishment of a new one."

Capitalism has outlived its usefulness for humanity. It has destroyed our environment and disrupted our climate. It has regulated 1 billion people to the slow death of starvation and malnutrition. It offers no way forward. Instead, we need a rapid and just transition to an economy based on zero emissions. It means leaving fossil fuels in the ground. It means investment in transitioning to renewable energy, in passive houses, in retrofitting and in public transport and it means democratic planning over our economy to meet the needs of people and planet.

The Minister of State, Deputy Joe McHugh, is sharing his ten minutes with Deputy Hildegarde Naughton.

I thank Deputy Bríd Smith for raising this important matter and taking it into the Chamber.

It is worth setting the scene, in terms of how the Government is approaching climate change, which is undoubtedly one of the biggest global challenges of our time. The decisions we make cut across almost all the different sectors of our economy, be it farming, housing, transport, industry or job creation. Our energy and climate policies are all closely interlinked, meaning a change to one element of our approach can have significant effects on other elements. As such, a holistic approach is essential.

The scale and complexity of the challenge demands a co-ordinated approach, at both national and international level. At international level, Ireland is committed to concerted multilateral action to tackle climate change through the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement requires that all parties produce plans to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, and show increasing ambition over time with these plans. Ireland's obligation will form part of the European Union's overall commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Nationally, Ireland's first National Mitigation Plan sets out this Government's collective approach to reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions. It represents the first in what will be a series of strong roadmaps for action across all sectors to make progress towards Ireland's national transition objective. The plan takes a whole-of-Government approach to tackling greenhouse gas emissions. Progress on this work is collectively reported on by Government on an annual basis in its annual transition statement. The Government has already implemented a wide range of policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the economy and we will work on an ongoing basis to make further progress towards our national transition objective.

There are 106 individual actions in the National Mitigation Plan, including the introduction of a renewable heat incentive; the finalisation of a renewable electricity support scheme; DCCAE capital funding for 2018 which will be invested in sustainable energy projects which will save over 120,000 tonnes in carbon emissions every year, supporting 3,500 jobs, mainly, in rural areas, while also reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels; and the allocation of additional resources to stimulate and support electric vehicles take-up in the high visibility taxi sector and to develop a new toll incentive regime for zero emission and ultra-low emitting cars.

Renewable ocean energy can also play a critical role in helping Ireland meet its long-term energy and climate targets. While some offshore renewable energy technologies show promise in the near term, rigorous testing must precede deployment at scale. Some technologies, such as floating wind devices and tidal devices, are not likely to be deployed at scale until the mid-2020s onwards, with wave from approximately 2030. I am aware of examples in Ulster. In my own province, there is work between Queen's University and Letterkenny Institute of Technology, LYIT, into further research in this area. It is an INTERREG supported project and involves sharing practice from different aspects of the industry in Scotland as well.

Nevertheless, Government recognises the opportunities offered by Ireland's ocean energy resource and is putting in place today the building blocks that will enable Ireland's future offshore renewable energy industry. The offshore renewable energy test sites in Mayo and Galway Bay, along with the Lir National Ocean Test Facility in Cork, represent a full suite of world-class test facilities to help develop this promising resource.

These actions, and the many others in the plan, will result in reducing our fossil fuel use progressively to a point where we can reach our long-term vision of an aggregate reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of at least 80% by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors but that is not to say that more is not needed.

Turning to the fossil fuels we use, and let us be clear we will continue to use them for quite some time, neither the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change nor the International Energy Agency envisages a 100% renewable energy electricity system. Therefore, some fossil fuel will remain a component of our future energy mix.

There are clear climate benefits that natural gas offers over coal and peat in power generation, while at the same time providing flexible generation to support renewables on the system. There is also considerable progress being made on the role that natural gas and renewable gas can play in our transport system, particularly in the freight sector, which is a notably challenging area to decarbonise.

Turning to our use of oil, I have already mentioned that actions are being taken by Government to support a change from diesel and petrol cars to electric ones. However, there are some elements of the transport sector which will be especially challenging to decarbonise, in particular the aviation and marine transport sectors.

Efforts to date have largely been focussed on energy efficiency rather than alternative modes of transport. As an island nation, we are especially reliant on both of these modes of transport. The fossil fuels we import increasingly come from more distant parts of the world and the further afield they come from, the worse impact they can have on the climate, as it takes considerable energy to deliver them.

We also have to consider carefully Ireland's energy security. Security of supply is often not on a par with other considerations when designing energy policy, especially when things are going well. However, in the words of the European Commission, the EU had a stark "wake-up" call following gas supply disruptions in 2006 and 2009.

The good news is that fossil fuels will no longer be our single source of energy security and the measures we have to hand to deal with energy security are continually evolving with increasing levels of renewables, developments in energy storage, the potential for further grid interconnections and the continued roll-out of energy efficiency. We must, however, coldly analyse and assess what they can deliver and over what timeframe. Of course, these real and challenging issues should in no way curb our ambition but, nevertheless, cannot be simply set-aside or wished away.

I will leave my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Seán Kyne, to deal with the Bill itself.

I welcome the opportunity to make a brief contribution on this debate. As Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, I have no fixed view on whether offshore oil and gas exploration should be banned permanently and I might in time come to the conclusion that they should be. The only view I offer at this stage is that this legislation should probably not be continued in this House without the matter being carefully considered and in a more holistic fashion.

The Minister of State with responsibility for natural resources has previously invited the committee, of which I am Chair and of which Deputy Bríd Smith is a member, to hold a broad policy debate on national energy policy. It is something the committee should do. We need to hear expert witnesses who can give evidence on this issue and also to hear from those who have differing views on the topic. Only then, when all the potential pros and cons have been evaluated and discussed, should legislation be drafted.

This is not only about banning fossil fuel exploration in Irish territorial waters. It is about competitiveness, climate change and security of energy supply. Deputy Bríd Smith may be surprised to hear that I am probably close to her position on this issue. I would ideally like to have a situation where fossil fuels are a thing of the past. However, I urge the Deputy to consider progressing this on an all-party basis, with due consideration of supply security and other issues.

I call Deputy Dooley, who is sharing time with Deputy Lawless.

I am pleased to say that Fianna Fáil will be supporting this Bill, as we recognise the importance of making a strong shift away from our reliance on fossil fuels to cleaner, greener forms of energy. The Bill is part of a global campaign to highlight the need to reduce fossil fuel dependence to prevent dangerous temperature increases. The reality is that there is a climate change crisis unfolding around the globe and Fianna Fáil recognises that we must take decisive action to address it. If we do not, the pressures that will be placed on every society around the world will be simply unprecedented.

Unfortunately, many of these threats are already in motion. The year 2016 was the hottest on record, with the average temperature almost 1° Celsius higher than the 20th century average. Given that most of us would probably like Ireland to be at least 2° Celsius warmer year round, that temperature increase might not sound like much but we need to remember that during the Ice Age, when places like Boston were under a mile of ice, the average temperature was only 4° Celsius lower than it is now.

Too many countries are already feeling the effects of this temperature change and the associated climatic shifts. Public health experts have warned that the ongoing water shortages in Cape Town, a city with 4 million inhabitants, will likely result in the outbreak of life-threatening illness.

Spain and Portugal are still grappling with one of the worst drought seasons either nation has ever faced. To look away and continue with business as usual would be one of the greatest acts of moral negligence we could commit. We need only look around our own country to recognise the very significant change in weather patterns in recent years. We see the extreme flood events that were characterised a number of years ago as one-in-100-year events; they are now happening every second or third year. This should be a wake-up call to all of us that patterns are changing and having a very dramatic impact on us.

Addressing this issue begins with us having a serious discussions about our fundamental reliance on fossil fuels. Between 1970 and 2010, fossil fuel combustion produced about 78% of the carbon emissions produced worldwide. The need to reduce drastically the amount of fossil fuels we burn is obvious to most people; how to do so, when the global economy has been largely built upon the combustion of various fossil fuels, is much less obvious. Looking closer at Ireland's contribution to global warming, we see that in 2016 fossil fuels accounted for over 91% of our energy use. Given the amount of talk we hear in this Chamber about clean energy technology and wind turbines, many people probably think we source about half, or even more, of our energy from renewable energy sources. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. I commend the Bill on forcing us all to acknowledge this and to have an important discussion about our plans for Ireland into the future, and I compliment Deputy Bríd Smith on her foresight in introducing the Bill at this time.

My party acknowledges that this is a complex conversation. One does not go from 91% reliance on fossil fuels to no dependence on fossil fuels overnight. This is not simply a supply-side problem. It would be hypocritical of me to pretend that by shutting down Irish production we will create a carbon-neutral country overnight. Whether it comes from the Corrib gas field or the tar sands in Alberta, western Canada, we will still need fossil fuels to put in our cars, to power our farms and factories and to heat our homes. Given the considerable environmental impacts and the nature of many of the alternatives, it makes no environmental sense for relatively clean natural gas to be edged out by much dirtier alternatives. There is therefore a job of work to do to reduce our demand for and use of gas and oil.

Furthermore, consideration is not given in the Bill to its implications for the considerable number of exploration licences and leases that are already in place, whereby companies have already invested considerable resources in exploring Ireland's deposits and are in the process of applying for extraction licences. By banning all extraction licences, the Bill would effectively end this process. There would be considerable legal issues with radically changing the nature of Ireland's licensing regime for these companies and operations that are already in the system. This would need to be addressed and teased out on Committee Stage, and there is an opportunity for all of us to work constructively in that vein. This is why I am anxious that the Bill pass to Committee Stage. I am not blinded at all by my desire to see a cleaner environment, but we must recognise the complexities of the issues that must be addressed thereafter. My core point here is that the Bill needs to be seen as one piece of a much larger discussion about Ireland's need to decarbonise and become cleaner right the way from supply to demand and end use. The Government is completely shying away from this conversation, and this is reflected in Ireland's current climate change policies.

While in government, Fianna Fáil published and introduced, together with the Green Party, the Climate Change Response Bill 2010. This Bill, which was one of the first of its kind in the world, set out a comprehensive framework for Ireland's journey to near carbon neutrality by 2050. Among other provisions, it set out annual targets for Ireland to meet in our journey towards much lower emission levels, something that would have given us a clear vision of where we needed to go. One does not build a house without breaking it into smaller steps, and one certainly does not overcome one of the biggest technological and economic challenges in the history of the State without breaking it down either.

When Fine Gael and Labour subsequently entered power, the Bill was ignored for five valuable years during which we could have reduced emissions. When they finally introduced their version of the Bill, it fell far short of our original proposal. Suddenly there was no specific goal for 2050, and gone were the annual targets to guide us along our way to a low-carbon economy. In short, between 2010 and 2015, all the binding targets that were there had been extracted. While the Government did establish the expert advisory council, it has completely ignored its advice. When the chair of the council, Professor John FitzGerald, one of the most esteemed climate experts in the world, categorically stated that the Government's policies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions would be insufficient to meet Ireland's short and long-term goals, his advice was not heeded. Professor FitzGerald was also the fore in identifying Ireland as a laggard and not as the leader that some would try to present us.

If the Government will not take action, the rest of us must forge ahead without it. My party is working on our own climate change proposals which we will bring forward later this year. We will focus on the big changes that are needed to create a long-term sustainable future for Ireland, one in which our economy does not rely on dirty fossil fuels and our children can enjoy clean air and an unspoiled countryside. This is an opportunity for Ireland to take advantage of the next energy revolution, particularly in respect of green technologies. Whereas we lacked the natural resources to be a major player in the fossil fuel industry, Ireland has the potential to become a serious hub for the production of clean energy technology. With 3,171 km of coastline, significant tidal activity and a temperate climate, Ireland is well-suited to most of the major green energy technologies out there. What is more, our highly skilled workforce is ready and able to take on the tricky business of engineering these new technologies. The SEAI, for example, has estimated that on and offshore wind energy generation could create 20,000 jobs by 2040 in Ireland. This is the part of the story on which we need to focus. How do we maximise the benefits of the next energy revolution for our nation and its citizens?

I thank Deputy Smith for giving us an opportunity to address this question. While I may not agree with all she has to say about climate change, or indeed other topics, I welcome this chance to exchange views on what will be a defining issue for our generation. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, which is exactly what Deputy Smith's Bill has done for us today.

I also commend Deputy Smith on bringing forward this Bill. As Deputy Dooley said, Fianna Fáil will support it. We are in a climate emergency. Despite President Trump's tweets, snowfall in winter does not automatically mean climate stability. We live in a time of extreme weather and repeat extreme climate events. I learned even earlier today that the ESB dam on the River Shannon was built to withstand a one-in-10,000-year flood. Unfortunately, those water levels that were once considered one-in-10,000-year events are now considered one-in-150-year events. This shows the journey we have taken in relatively recent times, over the past 60 years since the construction of the dam. I crossed the Liffey at the ESB dam at Poulaphouca, Ballymore Eustace, in my constituency recently. We see similar weather events reoccurring and the entire Liffey basin, with which I am familiar, flooding repeatedly. Flood events are becoming the norm on many local roads and areas adjacent to streams and rivers, which is completely unacceptable, as are the storms and the adverse weather conditions we have seen recently, be it Storm Ophelia, Storm Brian or the other storms we saw last winter.

Ambition and aspiration are needed and we need to think big and bold, and this Bill does so. When we think we cannot achieve things, we should look to people such as Elon Musk, who last night sent his car into space, and the creativity and ambition of man that is realised in such endeavours. Where there is a will, there is a way. Such people find it possible to do things that were previously thought impossible. We have seen leadership in such places as London and Paris. I understand a ban will be imposed on non-electric vehicles entering the latter city from 2030 onwards. We are seeing more and more such initiatives in cities around Europe and indeed the world. Targets and aspirations are being set and imposed, but in statute, although these countries often give themselves lead-in times, 2030 in the case of Paris.

We also see the success of renewable energy in many areas but not yet in Ireland, a point to which I will return. We see this in such countries as Portugal, Spain and Germany, some of which have achieved negative pricing when they have got a particularly good spell on renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. We should be in a position to do likewise but we are nowhere near. We have seen this happen and become the norm in other countries that run entirely on renewable energy for continuous periods of two or three days when this has been achieved and done well.

I am disappointed with the Government's approach to date, notwithstanding the good work of the committee. The Chairman of the committee, Deputy Hildegarde Naughton, myself - I am Vice Chairman - and the cross-party membership are doing some excellent work. I am disappointed with the Government as a whole. I recently asked the Taoiseach what provision is being made for the possibility that the State will incur fines of over €1 billion if we do not make our targets for 2020. His response, which was quite flippant and dismissive, was that it was an issue for next year and not this year so the question was out of scope. It is far more serious than this year or next year. We need to think about the next 100 years. The State is on the hook potentially for €1 billion. We established this at the committee and the figures are borne out in the detail. For moral as well as financial reasons, this is not a place we want to be.

As Deputy Dooley indicated, Fine Gael, on entering Government, appointed an advisory council but then proceeded to ignore its recommendations. Professor John FitzGerald, one of the most esteemed climate experts attached to Trinity College, spoke about how the Government, unfortunately, will fail to meet its target and that its strategies are completely inefficient for mitigation in the short and long term in the area.

I mentioned the moral argument but the financial argument is also strong. It is a fact that fossil fuel extraction in Ireland has been unsuccessful. We do not have a series of coal mines, even if we were minded to go back to using them. With regard to driving revenue to the State, the Corrib gas field has been successful from an output point of view but it has not been commercially successful. Shell sold its stake having made just under €1 billion in losses. This means a loss to the taxpayer because loyalties are calculated based on revenue and profit. If extraction is resulting in losses, there is no gain whatsoever for the taxpayer.

The Bill is in line with national trends on divestment. We supported last year's legislation on companies divesting assets relating to fossil fuels industries. That legislation was passed. There is a trend worldwide whereby up to €5 trillion of holdings in fossil fuels funds have been divested. There is a variety of renewable energy options and I will touch on them in a few moments.

I have a few concerns about the Bill and I hope they can be addressed or mitigated on Committee Stage. I will return to them then. I am concerned about energy security. Were the Bill to pass today we would be saying "No" to any non-renewable sources being used to produce energy in the State from the day of its enactment. This is a very noble, laudable and desirable goal but I worry about its implications because we are not even making 50% renewable energy, as I understand it, so where will the other 50% come from? If we cut off sources such as the Corrib gas field, the alternative is to import energy. Natural gas is understood to be a transitional fuel from the high pollutants of coal and oil through to renewables. In order to fill the gap, we would have to import nuclear energy and energy generated from non-renewable sources elsewhere. I look forward to the discussion on this. I am concerned, however, because it is stated that we will not be allowed to use Irish gas but that we will import French gas or energy generated by nuclear reactors in France or the UK. I want to understand this further because a very important point arises in the context of from where our non-renewable energy comes if we do not produce it here.

I mentioned the Corrib gas field in the context of transition. An opportunity exists there up to 2050. I want to understand a bit more about how this might work. With regard to foreign direct investment, which is critical to our economy, when people invest in the State, there are a number of things they look for, including energy security and energy supply. There is uncertainty about 50% or more of the supply if it is based on imports. We have the UN interconnector in respect of which complications are arising on foot of Brexit. The interconnector ceased functioning a couple of times during the past 12 months for technical reasons so there are issues with it. How do we fill the gap?

A caveat in respect of foreign direct investment is that we sometimes hear about multinationals or other companies coming in. They tend to have very green boards and strong corporate social responsibility and they may state that they will only use renewable energy. This sounds great and it is something to which we all aspire and sign up. It is very welcome. Perhaps that is a discussion for another day, but we have to be careful that we do not allow a company to come in and only use renewable energy by taking from the finite amount of renewable energy on the grid rather than generating new renewable energy to use itself. In the context of a particular facility being 100% renewable, there is a difference between taking energy from the grid - and so from someone else - and a company generating new renewable energy that it can use to sustain itself. The latter case is something we want to encourage and we want to see.

There are difficulties with some renewable sources and I hope we can surmount them. There is a big community backlash against wind energy. The big operators in this area have not endeared themselves to local communities in the past and this is something about which we have to be very conscious when we promote renewable energy. I cannot understand why the Government would not support an offset scheme for solar power in order to allow GAA halls, local community halls and houses throughout the country to put a couple of solar panels on their roofs, plug into the grid and get discounts on their energy bills. They could lead by example with regard to schools and communities. There was a scheme in place at one stage, but the Government has not restored it. Perhaps that is something at which the Minister could look. It would be a very positive move if he were to do so.

There is huge potential in offshore wind. The Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment recently discussed the possibility of generating huge amounts of wind energy off the west coast. A number of stations could be put in place out of harm's way. I do not think there would be much community backlash if something is five miles or more off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean. There is great potential to tap into wave and offshore wind energy.

I am particularly concerned about energy security and what would fill the void in the short term until we get to 100% renewable energy, but that is a debate we can have on Committee Stage. The Bill is much needed. It relates to a subject that is very important to everyone in the House, everyone in the State and everyone on the planet. I welcome the Bill and we certainly will support it. I look forward to further debate on Committee Stage.

I welcome the fact that Solidarity-People Before Profit has introduced this Bill. We will support its passage to Committee Stage but it will have to contain extremely important provisions without which the entire Bill would be pointless. These are to set in motion the direct replacement to fossil fuels because if we do away with something, we have to replace it. It is completely immoral to refuse to use our own gas but to continue to use fossil fuels belonging to somebody else because we do not have replacement renewables. Without this in place we should use the natural resources we have to the benefit of people.

What is realistic in terms of fossil fuels? What precise renewable energy sources will be put in place? Without renewable energy sources, Sinn Féin believes we should have exploration for the benefit of the State and its citizens. The problems with fossil fuels have been outlined well during the debate. We can rehearse the problems being caused, including global warming, but we must have solutions. What sources of energy do we need to develop to complement the intermittent sources of wind and solar? They are intermittent but it is important to use them. What will be the place of biogas? Sinn Féin's policy is to grow that industry. I commend Sinn Féin's policy to the Minister of State and I have a copy for him to read. I hope the Government will take it on board.

We do not have micro-generation of electricity. We have rooftops all over the country on which there should be solar panels. A Bill on micro-generation was introduced here just before Christmas. It would be a useful start in developing it so that we could have real alternatives. We need to develop a wide variety of renewable sources, such as wind, solar, biogas, hydro, wave and tidal. Being against everything will not solve this. We must have solutions. What is needed is action on renewable energy.

What renewable energy sources have been put in place by parties in the House? I have a lot of respect for the Green Party in many ways but some of what it has put forward lacks credibility. For example, in September last year, Deputy Eamon Ryan, a former Minister with responsibility for energy, when opposing Sinn Féin's Bill to regulate - not stop - wind farm development stated, "We can turn to a mixture of wind and solar development, particularly offshore wind, and interconnection". This means interconnection with other countries. He also stated, "The better, cheaper back-up system is for us to connect with our neighbours".

When the wind stops blowing and the sun goes down, the solution is to rely on Britain, where gas, coal, nuclear power or whatever is necessary will be used to produce electricity for us. That is not all right. Will it be all right in the future, then, for us to drive electric cars, thinking we are ever so green? We should have electric cars. However, if the electricity comes from Britain, where it is generated by fossil fuels or nuclear power, it is not good enough. We cannot move the problem around in the same way as the abortion problem.

We should have connections with other states, including France. However, we must have a vision whereby we produce our own energy sources and become an exporter of renewable energy. We met many experts in the field who said that Ireland can become self-sufficient and become a net exporter using renewables. For this, however, we will need to determine exactly what sources we are going to use. The Government has been vague on this. Its solution is the national mitigation plan, which is heavy on aspirations but light on actions.

Sinn Féin has met representatives from all sectors of the industry, including the Electricity Supply Board, ESB, Trócaire, Stop Climate Chaos and Friends of the Earth. I welcome the fact that some of them are here in the Gallery today. We have done this in pursuit of a plan for the production of alternative sustainable sources of energy. We have been putting forward solid proposals that work in other countries. Ireland is way behind on this issue, as the Minister knows. It is a shameful fact that we are going to exceed by far our carbon emissions targets for 2020.

Energy production will not come from any single source. That is the message here. The replacement of fossil fuels will have to come from a very wide portfolio, using different technologies. However, electricity only accounts for part of our fossil fuel consumption. Transport represents 40% of the energy used in Ireland. What are we doing about that? We are very weak on public transport and public transport networks. We have to change that. Public transport needs to be properly planned and made more available. I refer again to electric cars. There are approximately 2,000 electric cars in the State, but there is no plan for the necessary infrastructure or charging system. It is in limbo. We need a way forward on the subject. When it comes to renewable energy, there has been a lack of vision, direction and action.

Apart from burning fossil fuels, we are intrinsically linked to the petrochemical industry in the western world, and that must change. It is vital that we look for solutions and alternatives, because petrochemicals are present in other everyday products such as plastics. We need to reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels, which is hugely damaging for our environment. Such imports also cost nearly €5 billion a year. It is not just for the sake of the environment, self-sufficiency or reducing cost that we need to change. If these were not enough, we also are facing large fines. The great reason we should change is environmental. There are other reasons in between but we also are facing fines from 2020 onwards because we are absolutely failing to meet our obligations on greenhouse gas emission and renewable energy production. That cost will run into billions of euro.

I hope this Bill will open the debate and that we take it to Committee Stage. We want to amend it. We recognise the reality that we have to change. We must also recognise that we need those alternatives, and we in Sinn Féin want to accelerate them. We need to work harder at bringing those forward. We need to move away from polluting fossil fuels and this means creating a different economy, a sustainable economy.

It pains me to say this, but the Minister's tenure in this Department thus far has been an absolute disaster. Climate change is the biggest problem facing the planet. Each year, we see record temperatures and each year, climate change takes thousands of lives around the planet. We see a ramping up of droughts, floods and extreme weather events and these in turn are affecting the politics of the planet and are creating instability around the world. I hear the words of the Minister. I listen to the grave tones in which he is enunciating. However, I am struggling to see any concrete actions the Government has taken thus far in this area. Everything he mentions is a matter of horizon politics. Somewhere in the future, on the horizon, we will take a particular action that will resolve the issue. At this urgent time, I have heard the Chair of the committee talk about the need for consultation, analysis, research and plans. The only word she did not use was action, which is what needs to be taken.

The fact is that because of the Government's policies, this country is the third worst with regard to domestic carbon emissions. As has been said, we are on the verge of paying hundreds of millions of euro in fines because of its inaction on these targets. Look at what has been done by the Government. The only offshore wind project we have is the Arklow Bank Wind Park, which was built in 2004. There are 2.5 million cars on the road right now, and only a couple of hundred of those added every year are electric cars. Moreover, despite all the Government's plans, the number of electric cars sold in January 2018 actually fell when compared with the figure for January 2017.

It is said that diesel fumes now cause about 38,000 deaths internationally. Many other cities have concrete plans and actions in hand to take diesel out of city centres but I do not know of any Government plans in that regard. For years, many cities have had buses run on alternative and renewable fuels. Not a single euro has been spent by the Government on alternatively-fuelled buses in any city in the State.

What really gets my head spinning is the fact that Ireland has only 44,000 farmers who are actually making a living. The average wage for a cattle farmer in this State is €12,500. Most of those farmers are well placed to produce renewable energy. All they need is feed-in tariffs from the Government but yet the Government will not develop any such measures. In Britain, solar power from March to September now produces more energy than coal and nuclear power combined and yet there is not a single solar farm in this State. I call on the Minister to wake up, and fast.

The Labour Party is supporting the Bill. We wish to see it proceed to Committee Stage. It is great to stand in the Chamber and hear the voice of a young child in the Public Gallery. It is a nice reminder of just exactly why we are all here. It is lovely to hear that little voice from on high.

I will offer a different slant on this Bill. In Paris in December 2015, Ireland agreed to halt climate change. We signed up to very specific targets, namely, to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit that temperature increase to 1.5° Celsius. The time has come for us to be very serious about that target from a global perspective, particularly in regard to what we do on the island of Ireland.

If one considers the development agenda, I note that on average, we spend approximately €600 million per annum supporting poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, in working with our key partner countries through Irish Aid. Through Irish Aid, we support subsistence farming projects in the Tigray region of Ethiopia to allow a sustainable model of agriculture to exist there in order that people can feed themselves, at the very minimum. We have to make the connection between the programmes that we are supporting in sub-Saharan Africa and the effect of a global average temperature increase of 2° Celsius above the pre-industrial levels on the very people we are assisting. We in western Europe are contributing by our actions to that very same increase in temperatures.

There must be an understanding of the causal link between what we are supporting in our laudable programmes in Irish Aid on the one hand and our behaviour on this island.

I wish to refer to the excellent Stop Climate Change briefing document that was submitted to Members. It refers to the role of financial analysts and says that financial analysts have highlighted the risks of fossil fuel assets becoming stranded or worthless, a warning reiterated publicly by the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney. It continues: "An increasing number of legal scholars and regulators are now warning that fiduciaries who fail to consider climate change risks in their investment analyses and decisions could be liable for breaching their fiduciary duty in the future, exposing them to litigation risk". If we are capturing the zeitgeist, there must be ownership of the agenda from a political point of view to ensure that we divest ourselves from those types of investment instruments and that we, as a Parliament, on behalf of the people, take radical action on climate change. In this country we are now subject to greater weather events which have an impact on the delivery of food, how agriculture operates and on the built environment in the towns, villages and enclaves in which we live. We must start to take radical action to ensure we have both an investment portfolio and a set of policy instruments that take seriously the risks inherent in climate change.

In conclusion, we will support the Bill. It is time for us to get to grips with this issue from a non-partisan point of view and this is an opportunity to do that. I hope the Government will facilitate the Bill passing to Committee Stage. It appears there is a clear majority in the House for the view that it should proceed to that Stage. When that happens we will have an opportunity to put forward amendments as we see fit, contribute to the debate and have a successful outcome on the Bill, such that it leads to a set of policy instruments that ultimately give effect to real change.

I support the Bill introduced by Deputy Bríd Smith. It is short and concise and proposes to amend the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960 by prohibiting the issuing of licences for exploration for fossil fuels. The Bill recognises and legislates for the scientific reality that we must stop seeking more carbon based energy. It is also fully in line with Ireland's climate and energy obligations and security of supply requirements.

I wish to respond to the comments of the Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, on energy security. It is clear that ending the State's fossil fuel licensing will not disrupt Ireland's current gas supply or usage or in any way jeopardise the energy demands of citizens and businesses in Ireland. Ireland's national and international climate commitments require the almost complete decarbonisation of the energy, transport and home heating sectors in the medium term. However, natural gas is a key component of Ireland's current energy mix, particularly for base load electricity generation. It is recognised that the existing gas supplies must be maintained and the policy change proposed in the Bill does not seek to switch off any existing supplies and does not affect current exploration licences.

The State's climate and energy objectives are clear about the need to phase out fossil fuels. It is highlighted in the Government's climate strategy, produced in July 2017, that Ireland depends on fossil fuels to meet 88% of its energy needs at an annual cost of approximately €4.6 billion. We must reduce this reliance on fossil fuels very considerably by 2050. The 2050 objective is set out in the 2014 national policy position, which is underpinned by the Climate Change and Low Carbon Development Act 2015. The 2014 policy position is also bolstered by the State's energy White Paper, Ireland's Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030, which further specifies the objective of reductions in emissions by 80% to 95% compared to 1990 levels by 2050. The Minister, therefore, has an obligation to support this Bill on Second Stage.

I commend Deputy Bríd Smith on introducing this Bill. When we license for drilling instead of expanding our renewable energy infrastructure, choose biomass over wind, water and solar power, increase the national herd instead of helping farmers and the public to diversify from climate destructive forms of food production and consumption, when the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport gives priority to roads and fossil fuel guzzling buses over electrified rail and we fall way behind almost every European country in terms of the transfer to renewable energy, these are all political choices that have the effect of stealing the right to quality lives from the people of the planet.

A nonsensical argument is being spread by the Government, and the polluting industries that gain from the status quo, that Ireland signed up to more than it could handle and that it is facing a bigger burden in terms of the targets than most other countries. The truth is that there was no political will to face these problems and there still is none. In 1990, the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, report was published. In 2009 we signed up to the targets that the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment now says are unachievable. Ireland will be one of only two EU countries that will miss their targets, which is some achievement. We signed up to the targets in 2009 and published the legislation in December 2015. The legislation was empty, containing no mitigation measures or references to targets. Now, in 2018, we still do not have concrete, detailed sectoral mitigation action plans.

In 2009 the Scottish Parliament voted to cut its nation's CO2 emissions by 42% by 2020, a target it reached six years early. In 2014 its emissions were 44.8% lower than in 1990. Given that we grant licences for drilling for fossil fuels off the coast of our country to some of the biggest polluters, knowing the science of the situation and how it is threatening the possibility of human life on the planet, it appears the Government does not care enough to take the necessary action. It does not appear to care enough about what future generations will have to deal with or about the lives of those on the front line of climate disasters today. We have the comfort of not having to deal with many of the worst climate disasters. We see them on television and they are a nice, handy distance away. It is a little like the bombing in the Middle East and supporting the Americans using Shannon Airport to allow them to bomb the living daylights out of those countries.

Fair play to Deputy Bríd Smith and Solidarity-People Before Profit for bringing the Bill before the House. The Bill gives a clear signal of intent and proposes real actions that will help to achieve our carbon emissions obligations. We must view this against the backdrop that we are at the bottom of the pile. It is a great little country for ignoring targets to which it has signed up. In that context the Bill makes sense by preventing the renewal of licences for exploration which would tie us into long-term commitments to fossil fuels at a time when we have committed to divesting from them. It is absolute lunacy. Some of these frontier licences are quite complex and can run for up to 12 years.

This Bill is necessary to stop the lunacy we saw when the Minister issued a licence to Providence Resources Plc to drill off the west coast of Ireland a week after the House voted to ban onshore fracking. It is disgraceful. We are now tied to that commitment up to 2020 in the naivety of thinking that offshore fracking is less damaging than fracking onshore. The blasts from oil and gas exploration are clearly a daily threat to Ireland's dolphin, whale and porpoise population. They also kill approximately 64% of zooplankton, a vital resource for the entire marine ecosystem, not to mention the damage that can occur from oil spills and the like.

Bills such as this give us an opportunity to turn our performance around and become a forerunner in some of these areas. The task ahead is huge and that is because we have ignored it up to now. There is no doubt that we must start quickly improving. The Government does not have a clear strategy on how to pursue our climate change policies. Rather, it is giving out many mixed signals on the issue. The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment considers many issues. There have been many publications and draft plans but no clear methodology for how targets will be met. Meanwhile, other Ministers have come up with very specific targets for increases in agricultural output and the size of the national herd, incentivising the development of energy-intensive industries, such as those involving data centres and so on, that fly in the face our international obligations on climate action. The Bill is a step in the right direction. If the Government wishes to embrace what it states are its policies, it should welcome the Bill with open arms.

I commend Deputy Bríd Smith and her colleagues in Solidarity-People Before Profit on putting forward the Bill, which is similar to a Bill introduced by the Green Party. However, we are very glad for her to bring it to the House and it is to be hoped that it will be passed and enacted into legislation.

I commend Stop Planet Chaos and also the NGO movement in Ireland, which has had a hugely positive role in recent years in working with this Parliament on this and other legislation we have advanced. Ireland can be good at this. It can be a good, green land. We can be a proud people in the transition that has to be made. We can be ahead of the curve. We will be good at this and we should move forward and grasp the opportunity at hand. In supporting the Bill, I commend, without wishing to pick out individuals, Bill McKibben of 350.org on his work five or six years ago in doing the simple maths and atmospheric physics which showed that we need to keep 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. That is the rational and scientific viewpoint. Ministers often say that we have to be serious, think about this issue and resolve it. The reasoned, intelligent and thought-out science is in favour of the Bill. The Government is taking an irrational, reckless, dangerous, thoughtless and careless approach by going the other way. When Deputy Bríd Smith and I attended the COP23 talks in Bonn last year we encountered further analysis by priceofoil.org which showed that the latest research indicates we cannot use known reserves or existing coal, gas and oil production sites if we are to meet the climate commitments in the Paris Agreement. That is the physical, scientific and energy reality we face.

Climate change is not the only reason to change our ways. Startling new evidence published in Nature magazine last June indicated that the seismic activity that is being engaged in is destroying our natural habitat and having a real effect on the zooplankton that form the base of the food chain, as Deputy Clare Daly stated. The world has lost half its wildlife in the past 40 years. We cannot ignore the biodiversity crisis that the Bill will help to address. In recent days, the Irish Wildlife Trust - fair play to it - published another important study showing that 48 species in the Irish marine environment are currently threatened with extinction. We must act.

The great joy, opportunity or reality is that advancing in this direction will be good for our economy. We will be good at this. It is a pity that Deputy Stanley is no longer in the Chamber. I listened to his contribution and thought he had gone back to the old days when the maxim was to burn everything English except their coal. I also thought he was advocating for economic nationalism, whereby we have to hold on to what we have. The world has changed in that regard. We have to leave that oil in the ground. Doing so will allows us to switch to the alternative, renewable, cleaner and indigenous energy supplies we have. That is where the world is going. Some 90% of new electricity generation in Europe is in that renewable space. Some say it is only a marginal contribution but, rather, the entire margin of investment in electricity generation is in this renewable space and we can be good at it.

Ireland is a windy country. The first turbines were installed here in 1992 at Bellacorick in Mayo and are still in operation. We were one of the first to use offshore wind turbines when they were put in place on the Arklow Bank. They have worked perfectly every day since but they are the only ones we have installed. We must make a big investment in floating wind turbines and wind turbines in the Irish Sea and that is from where our energy supply will come. That is a certainty.

If there were no climate, environmental or wildlife implications, I would still say that oil extraction is a poor business bet. One must go into one of the harshest environments on earth, 200 or 300 miles out into the Atlantic, to extract oil. In Irish waters, a viable oil source is found once in every 40 or 50 exploratory investigations. We will defeat oil by making it too cheap, not by it being too expensive. There will never be an economic case for extracting oil from the Atlantic. Oil will never again go over $150 dollars per barrel because people will switch to electric vehicles and transport and that will keep its price down. At less than $100 per barrel, the extraction of oil from Irish waters will never make sense. Gas in Irish waters will never come ashore because it is so distant but, rather, will be shipped off to some other location. For those who argue that we have to think of energy security, there is no security in oil and gas. It is available on the international market. We will use oil for the next ten, 20 or 30 years at most but it is available on the international market and we do not lose any security by not having our own. It comes into Whitehaven in Cork and does not have an Irish, British or American stamp on it. There is only one oil market and there is no security risk in that regard.

The security risk is missing out on the economic opportunity for switching the other way by leading the curve in the transition that is now inevitable because California, China and Germany are doing it and we can too. We can be one of the best places in the world to do it and we should go for it. The 1 million Irish homes that have oil-fired central heating should, over the next ten years, have heat pumps installed, along with solar panels on their roofs and electric charging points in their driveways. If that is done, hey presto, we will start to have houses that are very efficient, smart, comfortable and well-run.

We do not need oil or gas. We must stop and make the switch. We have lost our green reputation and reputation is important. It is, therefore, important that the Bill is passed such that the world starts to recognise Ireland is doing the same thing as France. It has made a similar decision to that proposed in the Bill in respect of its waters. We can do likewise and that will helps us because we will be able to stand a little prouder in the world and tell the truth that we can and should be good at this.

More than anything else, we need to get the politics right. The Bill cannot be one of the 24 or 25 that will be stuck at Committee Stage for the next eight months, two years or whatever time. The Government needs to realise that the world is changing and that it cannot stop that by blocking legislation from passing not just Committee Stage but through the Dáil, across the corridor into the Seanad and out into reality. There is nothing to stop the Bill proceeding. I look forward to it. We could have a committee meeting or pre-legislative scrutiny next week. We should bring in Bill McKibben and Mary Robinson to see what they think. We should ask Lorna Gold to get Pope Francis to Skype the meeting. That is the important point: it raises our hearts, spirits and souls that we will be good at this. I am sure of that.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae is allowed five minutes to speak, if that is agreed.

I thank the Acting Chairman. I thank and compliment Deputy Bríd Smith on bringing the Bill before the House. Although we might not always agree about issues and I may not agree with the Bill, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on it. I wish to declare, as I always must, what could be perceived as a possible conflict of interest: I have, for many years, been a retailer of petrol, oil products and so on.

When I started out I was 19 or 20 years old when I purchased a filling station. At that time we had leaded petrol. When unleaded petrol came in, we had the added complication of needing two types of petrol pumps for leaded and unleaded. The more modern cars could only take the unleaded and-----

Will the Deputy please speak to the Bill?

Do we want to know where Deputy Healy-Rae got his money when he was 19 to buy his filling station?

We are interested actually.

Can I continue? I have five minutes and that is it. I will not overrun my time. I am trying to get at how the world has to evolve. I have listened to Deputy Eamon Ryan and the way the world has evolved but there are certain things about which I continue to be firm and fast. I am aware, for instance, that there are other people who want to see a world and an Ireland where there is no such thing as a person burning timber or turf in a fire in their home. I know people would want that. I would not want that but would seek to retain the right of people to burn the fuel they might have on their own farms and which they have done traditionally over the years. I do not want to be a part of anything that would result in those people not being able to burn what they want in their own fires. It is tradition and is part of what we are all about. While I very much respect that there is a modern, younger generation compared to the likes of me for whom in the future there will be no such thing as the burning of turf or timber, we must respect the right and entitlement of people who are there now and who have traditionally done this. Of course city living and town living is different to rural Ireland. This is why I always want to speak up on behalf of the people who do not pollute, in my opinion. All they are doing is what they, their families and the people before them have done for many years.

With regard to the Bill and the whole idea behind it, in the past Ireland may have oversold itself by agreeing to sign up to these measures. The technology is not there to drive an electric car from Malin Head to Mizen Head. It cannot be done currently as the technology is not there. Members may remember when mobile phones came in. A phone was something we used to make a phone call. Now we can do anything with mobile phones. I have no doubt but that in time, there will be such a car that can drive from Malin to Mizen and a lot further on one charge. We must admit and recognise, however, that we do not have the technology at present to allow us to do away with all diesel cars to minimise our emissions. We must be sensible and realistic. We have to deal with what we actually have to offer people. At the moment the technology is quite simply not there. Of course great things are being done around renewable energy. Previously a wind farm was completely alien to us and one would have to travel to see one. I remember going to Pamplona as a young councillor to see the wind turbine capital of the world as it was called. Now Ireland is creating an awful lot of renewable energy through wind farms and solar farms, which are an additional source of income to farmers. It is about a job of work and we have to evolve and we have to work but we must work within the constraints of what we have. I thank the Chairman.

The response of the Government to the Bill is shocking. In its presentation the Government said that in 32 years' time - a generation away - in the year 2050, Ireland might be able to reduce its emissions by 80%. This is not even true. In the past month, the Climate Change Advisory Council has stated that the Government will miss the 2020 targets. Professor John FitzGerald of that council has pointed to the high dependency on oil, coal and peat as being the primary reason. The Government can announce very noble things and very positive and important initiatives like sustainable energy projects and electric vehicles but the Bill and the reduction in fossil fuel consumption is actually critical to meeting those emissions targets. The Government has no answer and no solution. The aspects that do get talked about, such as resources to stimulate the take-up of sustainable energy are all private so we have no control. It is not even a Government-led project, which at least would be a bit more serious, but it is reliant on the private sector to do it.

I am not really surprised at the Government's response because reference has already been made to lagging behind. For 20 years the Government has sat and taken advice from the likes of Conor Skehan who, as a climate change denier, advised Fine Gael right up until the period when Phil Hogan was the Minister. It seems it is only in the last couple of years that Fine Gael has accepted the idea there is a climate change problem. Mr. Skehan's attitudes on homelessness and the environment are very similar; they are ill-informed and ignorant. At one point, an architect was drawing diagrams trying to disprove expert climatologists and was saying there was no problems with polar bears as that was all the fault of local tribes. This is the rubbish and dross to which the Government has been listening. It really needs to catch up and take this issue seriously. The Public Gallery is full of younger people tonight because this is a serious issue for young people and they take it a lot more seriously than does the establishment.

The first thing the Bill says is that it is an emergency and that the effects of climate change are being felt around the world right now. We need to implement radical policies in how our society operates. The one degree rise in global temperatures over the last number of years has led to a sharp increase in extreme weather events. We see it in Ireland also. It is often the poorest who are hit the hardest. While it is all very romantic to listen to Deputy Healy-Rae, and we all love a log fire, this is a serious issue where massive areas of the planet are becoming uninhabitable and where up to 25 million people are being displaced. If we keep going, this number will rise dramatically in the next years.

The current rate of CO2 pollution in the atmosphere has increased to a level not seen in 3 million years. We therefore have to dispense with some traditions that were not good traditions. That is the reality. It is also wrecking nature and the ecosystems with irreversible damage done to some of the most beautiful things on our planet. Scientists agree that we are in the process of a sixth mass extinction of animals and wildlife; a biological annihilation. The Bill argues that it cannot be left to big business and the private sector to voluntarily agree that at some stage in the future, they will tackle climate change. They will put their profits first. This is why we on the left have put forward an alternative to capitalism destroying the environment. There are 90 major companies that have created 63% of the cumulative emissions. These are the companies this Bill targets. They will not simply leave fossil fuels and profits in the ground. We need a completely different type of society to successfully stop climate change. We need to challenge the rule of the 1% who control these companies and the big businesses that are the major polluters so we can take control of our resources and our planet. Then we can invest the billions of euro needed to really transition from a carbon-based economy to a green economy.

If this Bill is passed and progressed through the Oireachtas without being watered down and then implemented, it would be an historic achievement for environmental campaigners.

It would be a victory built on the back of struggles by communities like the community in Rossport, which has stood up to Shell for many years and has braved State repression and media opposition all along the line.

The Bill before the House focuses on keeping the fossil fuel reserves in the ground so that they cannot be burned and thereby add to the carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. I want to focus on some other measures the State could take on fossil fuels to reduce emissions and decarbonise the economy. Ireland is on track to miss its emissions targets for 2020. In fact, we may have an increased level of emissions. We are also on track to miss our targets for 2030. Even though these targets are on the lower end of the scale of what many scientists think we need to achieve, we are still on track to miss them. As the environmental crisis gets worse, the timeframe within which we can take action decreases and the emissions reductions we will need to make grow. This is the result of policies that successive Governments have implemented or failed to implement.

According to a study carried out by the Irish Academy of Engineers, with massive investment across sections of the economy, the country could still meet its 2030 targets. The academy has laid out a raft of measures which could be implemented over the next 12 years, ranging from investing in renewable energies to retrofitting homes and investing in vital public services. It has estimated that the cost of such measures would be €35 billion. In our view, this would necessitate the increasing of taxation measures on the wealthy and multinationals and the making of a political decision to prioritise the environment over the interests of big business.

In Ireland, the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, after agribusiness, is the transport sector, which contributes 20% of all emissions here. Since 1990, transport has been the fastest growing contributor of emissions. Emissions from the sector have increased by a massive 130% since then. Most of this has come from people using their cars. The number of cars in this country has increased from 800,000 in 1990 to almost 2 million today. Nearly 75% of all journeys are taken in cars. The best way to tackle this is to invest significantly in public transport. Instead, the Government seems to be doing its best to drive people away from public transport. It has under-invested in public transport services, as we have seen with Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann. It has forced cutbacks on bus and train routes and increased fares across the board. By running the service down, it is encouraging people into cars. Despite all of this, the number of people seeking to use public transport has increased and buses, trains, and trams are packed at peak times.

If we are to provide a service to cater for the people who want to use public transport, while also encouraging people out of private cars and reducing emissions, we need to invest massively in improving and expanding public transport services and cutting fares. We can look at examples of success stories of investment in public transport. In 1981, the left-wing UK Labour Party council in London implemented the "fare's fair" policy on London transport. Fares were cut by a third before this was challenged in a court case. However, the result was clear. During the period in which fares were reduced, the use of public transport increased sharply. Last year, Solidarity and People Before Profit introduced budget proposals to revolutionise public transport and get people out of cars. An investment of just €500 million could halve all fares on CIÉ and Luas routes. This would encourage huge numbers of people out of their cars and onto public transport. We are repeating this call tonight. We are also proposing a reversal of all cuts in public transport subventions. This would cost just €90 million. If the subvention were doubled, services could be increased and fares could be slashed.

These examples show that it is not the case that environmentalists are campaigning for climate change to be tackled, while workers separately campaign for better public services. Both of these struggles are linked and need to come together. Public transport workers like those in Bus Éireann who are battling the company and the Government against cuts in pay, routes and conditions might argue that more investment is needed to improve public transport services because of climate change. We need more bus drivers on decent pay and conditions to improve public transport services and thereby tackle climate change. Likewise, environmentalists should support workers and trade unionists and see their struggles as part of the battle to defend public services and the environment. It is by building movements like this that we can force radical green change onto the agenda. A radical left-wing Government will reorganise society to protect the environment and raise living standards of all.

Cuirim fáilte roimh an díospóireacht thábhachtach seo. I thank Deputies for their contributions on this important national strategic issue. I welcome the general tone of the comments that have been made. Before I respond to the matters raised by Deputies, I would like to make a number of points. As the Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, has already outlined, the Government is fully committed to tackling climate change. Ireland and its European partners are fully playing their part in achieving the EU climate goals. We have set out our actions and our future direction in the national mitigation strategy, which tackles energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and focuses on energy-efficiency and decarbonising our energy system. The effect of this will be to increase renewable energy and to reduce the fossil fuel component of Ireland's energy use. The mitigation strategy is a living document. We recognise that more actions will need to be taken. I believe the Irish people are willing to take more actions and to change their behaviour.

The Government must oppose the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Amendment) (Climate Emergency Measures) Bill 2018. Banning oil and gas exploration and production is not a commitment under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or the Paris Climate Agreement. Similarly, banning exploration was not recommended by Citizens' Assembly in its deliberations on making Ireland a leader in tackling climate change. Oil and gas exploration and production continue to be undertaken by other developed countries in Europe, including the UK, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark. These countries have ambitious climate change goals and are strongly promoting renewable energy. The Bill before us is not a credible proposition. If it were passed, it would neither reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions nor change or reduce our use of fossil fuels. However, it would lock Ireland into permanent dependency on imports for its future fossil fuel needs in the post-Corrib scenario.

In the coming decades, Ireland and the EU as a whole will require some supplies of fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, which is viewed as a transition fuel in the period up to 2050. As the Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, has said, the White Paper on energy commits to decarbonisation but also states that natural gas will be a transitional fuel out to 2050. It should be noted that among the EU 28, the dependency on imports in the case of oil increased from 74% in 1995 to 89% in 2015. In the case of natural gas, the dependency on imports increased from 43% to 69%. The Corrib gas field demonstrates the impact that indigenous supplies can have on Ireland's import dependency. Ireland went from importing 89% of its overall energy needs in 2015 to 70% of its needs in 2016. However, production from the Corrib field will peak and decline from 2019 onwards. Thereafter, we will become increasingly dependent on imports for gas and 100% dependent on imports for oil.

The Government and the public are willing to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, however, we reject this Bill as gesture politics. During a debate on the departmental Vote last year, I proposed to Deputy Bríd Smith and numerous Senators that the relevant Oireachtas committee should hold a broad policy debate on national energy policy to inform any legislation. However, this Bill has been proposed before any such debate has taken place. I certainly did not try to stop a debate. In fact, I encouraged it when I addressed the Deputy at the committee and during the Seanad debate on the fracking Bill. I also encouraged it through my officials with the Chair of the committee and also with the clerk to the committee. I recommended over recent times that there should be a general debate on energy security and policy. When the Chairman of the joint committee spoke earlier, she said she is agreeable to including a debate on this issue as part of the work policy over the coming period.

I would like to respond to some of the comments that were made by Deputies. I assure Deputy Bríd Smith that this Bill is not in accordance with Government policy. As I have said, the White Paper on energy classifies gas as a transitional fuel.

France has been mentioned as an example. I remind the House that nuclear power is a major part of France's energy supply. The French electrical grid is connected to seven different countries. This means we are not comparing like with like when we compare Ireland with France. Obviously, we have no nuclear power. I do not think anybody is asking for a change in that regard. At present, our only gas and electricity connections are to the UK, which is about to leave the EU. There are plans for a Celtic interconnector to France by 2025 and this will facilitate the importation of nuclear-generated power. France's future energy mix is 50% renewables, which I welcome, and 50% nuclear. Costa Rica has also been mentioned. Costa Rica has a moratorium on petroleum exploration and extraction until 2021.

Our targets have also been mentioned during the debate. Under the EU renewable energy directive, there is a legally binding target for us to meet of 16% of our energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. We have admitted for a long time that meeting that target remains challenging, although we hope to achieve it. According to the most recent analysis from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, we will achieve between 13.2% and 15.4% of it, which is between 82% and 96% of our target.

Yes, we would like to be able to do more and certainly it is our ambition to increase that over time.

Deputy Murphy talked about the Citizens' Assembly and I stated that it did not recommend stopping offshore oil exploration. He also mentioned the need to address peat and coal, with which I agree, and natural gas is a transitional fuel and has a lower emission basis.

Deputies Dooley, Lawless, Stanley and Sherlock all recognised the complexity of the issue and I agree with them. Hence the rationale for having a debate in committee to tease out issues as supported by the Chair of the committee, Deputy Naughton. The Bill pre-empts any debate and does not cover the broad range of issues that would form part of an holistic debate. Deputy Collins said the Bill would not affect existing exploration licences as drafted. In fact, it would. It does not permit progression from licence to lease.

Deputy Lawless again talked about energy security, which is part of the reasoning behind not supporting the Bill. I mentioned this in respect of the interconnector. Deputy Eamon Ryan talked about bringing in climate experts and I agree with having a full debate at committee on this. Nobody was stopping it. Since we banned onshore fracking we have been actively encouraging that this debate take place. It would bring in groups like the International Energy Agency, some of the NGOs that are in the Gallery, oil producers and other reasonable groups that would have an interest and a view in respect of this topic.

Deputy Coppinger talked about Fine Gael being climate deniers. We are certainly not. I do not know anybody within Fine Gael, within my parliamentary party, who does not believe that climate change is real and is an issue in our society. We fully believe that climate change is real. I have stated that numerous times. We have our policies on it. I do not know anybody within the parliamentary party who is denying climate change. People talk about capitalism and large oil exploration companies. I am not sure who we are going to get to build the offshore farms when they come, or the offshore renewables. They will be multi-million euro projects that are going to need investment from large companies and conglomerates. The Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, mentioned the work that is being done on offshore renewables in respect of wave energy and floating pontoons for offshore wind turbines.

I spoke at a conference here in Dublin last Friday morning. There was a mention of the Lir facility, the Galway Bay test site and the Belmullet test site, all of which are developing renewables. It was commented that we will be the Saudi Arabia of renewables. We have that potential in relation to renewables and it was said that we will be the leading country in the world but that technology is not here yet. It is advancing. We are supporting it. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, is supporting it but it is not just here yet. I am also very worried by the objections to wind farms that we continuously have. I have seen it locally. It is a complex issue that impacts on people and I expect, unfortunately, that there might be a policy of some people objecting even to offshore wind production as well, when the time comes.

When I signed the licence for Providence, there was this talk about 5 billion barrels of oil that were going to be burned. Not all oil that is found is actually burned. There is a huge number of uses for oil in the world, for plastics, medicine, bitumen for our roads, clothing, parachutes, safety glasses, golf balls, fishing rods, detergents, candles, credit cards, sunglasses, tents, guitar strings, shoe polish, contact lenses, eye glasses, toothpaste, antifreeze - there is a huge array of products that oil and hydrocarbons are used for in everyday society. We have to acknowledge that. Not all oil that can be discovered is actually burned. It is put to a lot of other uses.

As an island, we also have to acknowledge that we are technology takers. I said on radio when I was debating with Senator Grace O'Sullivan that I would love to have a situation where we could say there was no need for oil or gas and that day will eventually come. However, as an island, for example, there is no alternative to jet fuel for people going on holidays until there are technology changes. There is the marine sector. There is perhaps technology in that sector in respect of hydrogen, but we are not there yet in terms of alternatives to those very important uses of hydrocarbons.

I am not in a position to support the Bill. I have encouraged a debate in committee, a larger debate than just this Bill, about energy security and alternative uses. We fully support the climate change objectives. Our Department is encouraging those changes and I welcome the debate here and look forward to a larger debate in committee on overall energy policy.

I am sharing time with Deputy Bríd Smith. We are taking five minutes each.

The obfuscation and the attempt to throw mud in our eyes that I just heard from the Minister of State really is extremely disappointing. It puts to shame people like the man whose bust is behind me in the Chamber, James Connolly. In a quote that is very appropriate to this debate, he said, "Our demands most moderate are, we only want the Earth." That sums up what the Minister of State's attitude should be to this Bill. It is a modest demand to do what is absolutely necessary because we want the Earth for our children and our grandchildren. We do not want to sell that future out along with a sustainable existence for our children and grandchildren on the basis of short-term interests. That is what is at stake.

It is simply beyond disputable fact that if we do not leave 80% of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, we are facing climate catastrophe. If we burn what is in the ground, global temperatures will rise by between 4° C and 6° C within the next 100 to 150 years. A 4° C reduction in temperature led to the last ice age and it took tens of thousands of years for that to happen and tens of thousands of years for the planet to recover from it. Imagine what a 4° C rise in temperature will do. We have no idea but it will be on a scale that is unimaginable. We will be literally selling the future of our children and grandchildren.

This is already happening. It is not hypothetical. Some 21 million people have been displaced as a result of climate change; 16 of the warmest years on record have taken place within the last 17 years; sea levels are rising by 3.4 mm a year, the fastest rate in 2,000 years; a crack in the Larsen C ice shelf recently saw a 5,800 km block of ice, four times the size of London, break off the ice shelf and drift into the sea, leading to the sort of rise in sea levels that we are seeing. Flooding is due to triple by 2030 on a global scale with disastrous consequences and costs.

What is the response of the Government to all of this? It is paying lip service to dealing with climate change while in reality bringing special pleading to the EU so we can get around having to meet the targets we need to meet. That is a pathetic record. We have had a 7% increase in emissions over the last two years. We are the third highest producers of emissions per person in the EU. There is failure on every level to invest in micro-generation, community-led renewables projects and failure to invest in expanding forest cover. We are missing our targets in terms of expanding the forest estate, failing to invest in public transport, to electrify the bus fleet, to reduce fares as Deputy Mick Barry already said, to introduce passive house standards, to reduce energy use, to retrofit old buildings to reduce energy use - failing to do anything, in fact, that would substantially impact on energy use and global emissions. This Government resists any tangible, concrete targets but engages in special pleading. This stuff has to stop.

It was people power of the sort we have seen from the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, Trócaire, Friends of the Earth, the Not Here, Not Anywhere group and from the people in the Border counties that forced the ban on fracking on the Government. At the time it resisted amendments suggesting that we should ban offshore fracking. If we do that we will force ourselves and the State to look at all the other things we need to do. If the Government keeps saying we need to think about, debate and discuss issues, we will lose time. The clock is ticking on towards irreversible, runaway climate change. If the Government is serious, this is a Bill that it should absolutely support. It proposes that there will be no more exploration licences. It is not asking that we turn off the lights now but it proposes that no more exploration licences be issued and that this country starts to invest. As the State built Ardnacrusha, a hydroelectric station, and transformed this country, please do not tell me we need capitalists to develop our power sources. We did it in the 1920s when Ireland was a Third World country.

I was not surprised to hear the Minister of State, Deputy Kyne, and the Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, state this measure is unrealistic and not credible and that it amounts to posturing and gesture politics. I was expecting that but not the lack of a sense of emergency. They say that our day will come, this will happen and that we should debate it over a long period. The point is being missed here. We have been debating this issue for three decades and the planet is heating up at a rapid pace. Ireland is missing its targets. It missed by up to 7% last year. We will not meet the EU targets in 2020 or 2030. We barely invest in public transport. The Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, called gas a transition fuel. There is no evidence of that. There is no evidence that natural gas is any less damaging to the planet than is oil and yet the Minister of State seems to speak with authority on these things.

The carbon dioxide that accumulates in the atmosphere and drives climate change can come from anywhere in the world. It can come from China, Britain or Northern Ireland. The point is being missed. This is an emergency. The point is being missed by Deputy Michael Healy-Rae, who suggests that we wait and that the situation will change in time. We do not have time. The planet is hurtling towards catastrophe. The point of this Bill is not to say in an unrealistic, gesture-politics way that we can survive without oil and gas immediately and that we can immediately make it happen in some magical way. If this country, this Government and this House take the brave position of making a statement to the rest of the world that we intend to leave oil and gas in the ground and that we are not issuing any more exploration licences, not only will we be sending a signal globally but we will be sending a message to the greed and the power of the fossil fuel companies to the effect that they cannot get away with what they do everywhere and all the time.

Amazing alternatives are available. When we were in Bonn, we went through the tents and looked at the technology that is being created throughout the world now to drive those alternatives forward but there is no political support for them. That is the problem. The political support to do something now is not present here and it is not present across Europe. We are failing to recognise that. We keep saying that we will be all right because we can trade off in transport and that we can pay the Third World for its emissions and give it some money to plant trees and do good things for the planet. That is not going to work. We have to make a stand and start to clean up our act. Carbon trading and offsets will not do it.

Breakthroughs are not being looked at in a serious way here. I believe that if we give ourselves a kick up the backside by signalling that the future is not about fossil fuels but rather about renewables then consecutive Governments will be forced to really invest in them.

I will conclude by citing Professor Kevin Anderson, who I mentioned earlier. He said one cannot fool nature. One can talk all one wants and pretend one is doing something to deal with climate change but the reality remains that we continue to emit more carbon dioxide by using more gas and more oil. Carbon dioxide levels continue to rise at an increasing speed and it is bringing us towards an historic catastrophe.

I thank the other parties in the House which have indicated their strong support. We hope that we will get this Bill past the next Stages. I thank all of the environmental campaigning groups, particularly the young people who passionately want the Minister to pass this Bill.

We have a very modern Taoiseach in Leo Varadkar, who likes to be identified with changing the world in similar ways to Justin Trudeau and other modern-type leaders of this world. He should make a stand and back this Bill and begin to change his own party's mind. Ireland will go down in history if it backs this measure as one of four small countries in the world which are saying to the big powers that we should save the planet now and stop taking more gas and oil out of the ground.

We could go nuclear, like President Macron.

Question put.

In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 8 February 2018.