The Bill referenced by the Deputy has been referred to select committee for consideration. As such, it remains a legislative proposal. Government policies in respect of climate action, energy and offshore exploration, and the application of such policies, remain unchanged.
The challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is well understood by Government and it is reflected in our national climate action and energy policy. Ireland will, within the EU and UN climate frameworks, pursue and achieve a transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy, underpinned by a secure and competitive energy supply, in the period to 2050. Within that context, it is accepted that Ireland will continue to require and use some, but significantly reduced, fossil fuels to meet the needs of our people, farmers, industry and businesses. In contrast, the Bill proposed by Solidarity will not reduce Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions and will not help Ireland meet its 2020 or 2030 emissions targets. The strategy outlined by Solidarity during last week’s Second Stage debate is for Ireland to rely entirely on imports for all our future fossil fuel needs.
As well as failing to actually reduce Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions, the proposed Bill would have an adverse impact on Ireland’s Exchequer resources through the loss of exploration acreage rental fee revenues and the potential loss of taxation revenue under the Finance Acts from any future commercial discoveries. In the face of such a loss to the Exchequer, it is my view that it would not be appropriate for a Government to issue a money message for this Bill.
The Solidarity approach fails to recognise, in contrast to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that natural gas can play a role as a transition fuel in combination with variable renewable sources. The Government and the public are willing to tackle climate change but the Solidarity Bill will not solve climate change. As I said last week, the energy White Paper clearly states that natural gas will play a huge part in our energy security into the future.