Northern Ireland politicians must support ban on oil and gas licenses or lose votes

Concerned community groups are stating the extreme urgency for NI politicians to ensure and guarantee a ban on oil and gas licenses in Northern Ireland [NI] or they will lose our votes. During this momentous month when the COP26 climate change conference is being held in Glasgow our own politicians are planning to undermine the very fabric of meaningful change. The NI Department of Economy [DfE] is presently in the final stages of bringing their petroleum policy to the NI assembly. This policy does not include the obvious and very necessary option of banning petroleum [oil and gas] licenses in Northern Ireland. Instead they are planning to issue licenses to two oil and gas [O&G] companies. Can you believe it?! But it is happening right now, under our very noses. We the people, for the people, can and must stop it! How? By our votes. We must tell the politicians that they will only keep our votes if they insist on a policy option that bans oil and gas petroleum licenses permanently from Northern Ireland. Our MLAs must then vote and pass this ban on petroleum licensing.

Remember that, due to our geology in NI, a petroleum license equals fracking; as there is no other commercial way to extract the natural gas here. O&G companies may say they will not use fracking during their exploration phase, but they have to use it during the extraction phase in order to make the process profitable. Methane is and remains a fossil fuel, it is not a “green” gas or a “clean” gas or a “transition fuel”. Methane (= natural gas) is 86 times more potent as a GHG [greenhouse gas] at damaging the climate than carbon dioxide/CO2. Any hydrogen produced by the O&G industry with the help of natural gas is fossil fuel hydrogen, and thus ‘dirty hydrogen’. Green hydrogen is not on their agenda. The latest IPCC report [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Aug 2021] is the most up to date and definitive research document relating to climate change and fossil fuels. That report states that we are already in a ‘code red for humanity’ and that the burning of fossil fuels must stop as quickly as possible. The DfE is not using the IPCC report, if they were then they would have to accept a ban on petroleum licensing is the only rational option.

Many other countries are faced with the huge difficulty of winding down their O&G industry and trying to create new jobs for these workers. Northern Ireland is in the bizarre situation of trying to start up from scratch an O&G industry in the middle of the climate emergency! If the petroleum licenses are granted now, it is already foreseeable that in a few years’ time the NI Executive will have to try to limit/ curtail the O&G industry in order to achieve binding net-zero carbon targets. In such circumstances it is very likely the companies will cost the NI taxpayer billions of pounds in compensation by suing (and winning!) for loss of prospective earnings. That means you and I could end up paying the O&G companies and their shareholders, rather than our taxes going to fund our schools, hospitals and the future of our children and grandchildren.

The O&G industry is neither wanted nor needed in NI. They will ruin our very profitable agri-food and tourism business. Fracking has been shown in hundreds of high-quality research studies to be extremely damaging to both human health and animal health.

People often wonder how one individual can help prevent catastrophic climate change when such big players are involved. But democracy does matter and begins at home, here in NI. So let us use our votes wisely for the political parties that genuinely want to help us. Make it known to your MLAs that you are not willing to vote for a party that is planning to issue petroleum licenses.

We can ensure that COP26 is a success by starting right here and now in Northern Ireland. Vote for change, vote for a sustainable NI, vote for political parties that will ban these oil and gas petroleum licenses.

Thank you.

BFF [Belcoo Frack Free]
Farmers for Action
FFAN [Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network]
FoE NI [Friends of the Earth]
LAMP [Letterbreen and Mullaghdun Partnership]
Love Leitrim
YACNI [Youth Climate Association]

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Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN)