The ordinary worker is not the polluter- it is the big fossil fuel companies which have polluted our planet. They should be the ones to pay the carbon tax and put money into just transition, instead of forcing ordinary people to pay up again.

I will be part of any movement that will oppose carbon tax being imposed on ordinary workers while the big companies are not being tackled

A key issue in climate change is war and the enormous amount of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions from military forces. The Pentagon is the world’s single largest consumer of fossil fuels, yet at the Kyoto climate change talks, the US succeeded through intense lobbying in keeping military domestic fuel use out of UN inventories of national greenhouse gas emissions. At a UN summit in Copenhagen the rich income nations gave a commitment to raise $100 billion for developing countries to finance adaptation. That amount is not to be sneezed at, but it represents just 1% of worldwide military spending.

Between 2001 and 2011, military spending increased by 92%. This is money that should be committed to tackling climate change. Instead, we have a huge waste of expenditure on tanks, military vehicles, aircraft and warships all of which are huge emitters of highly toxic carbon-intensive gases and this does not even take into account the gases released in explosions. Deadly combinations are involved. Military forces are huge contributors to climate change and climate change is a key factor in wars, in the struggle over water, land and scarce resources. In the Middle East and North Africa in particular, what is needed are not more UN summits but a clearout of imperialists and warmongers who dominate our planet.

I add my voice to concerns that, this Friday, the Government will include the liquefied natural gas terminal at Shannon in the list of projects of common interest, PCI, at a meeting of the European Commission. This meeting will agree cross-border infrastructure projects to link the EU’s energy systems. There is a serious question as to whether this will mean the Shannon project gets to proceed without a strategic environmental assessment, SEA, required under existing environmental legislation. There are serious concerns that the Shannon terminal will be used to import fracked gas from the US. It beggars belief that we ban fracked gas being taken out of our soil in Ireland but include the Shannon LNG project in a PCI which comes from the US, a climate change denier.

It is important that the Minister comes back to the House with answers to our questions. Will he request a postponement of the regional PCI meeting until an SEA is carried out on all the Irish projects listed? Will he commit to a full evaluation of the climate impacts of imported fracked gas from the US? Will he expedite his Department’s planned review of Ireland’s energy security and ensure that our energy demand is made compatible with climate commitments under EU and international law?

At the EU summit, Greta Thunberg said:

We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?

I could not agree with her more and I hope the Minister takes that on board.

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