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.