Church environmental lobbyists have criticised the Government’s blocking of the Climate Emergency Measures Bill, describing it as having acted as “judge, jury and executioner”.
The bill to bar the granting of new licences for oil and gas exploration in Ireland had passed two separate votes in the Dáil last year, but was prevented from moving to the third stage after Fine Gael put down a money message, claiming it would be too expensive.
“After stalling for 18 months, the Government has essentially vetoed the Climate Emergency Measures Bill by refusing to give a money message,” Dr Ciara Murphy, environmental policy advocate at the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice told The Irish Catholic.
Acknowledging that there are legitimate concerns about how this law would work in practice, Dr Murphy said it would nonetheless have provided an opportunity for real change.
“We would have welcomed that debate, to clarify the issues, sharpen the response, and communicate to the Irish people why such measures matter. By relying on a little-known procedural trick – the money message – to rule out even a debate, this current Government has acted as judge, jury and executioner in a deeply undemocratic fashion,” she said.
Claiming that the Government veto means there is “little hope that this parliament will make any steps towards climate and eco-system care”, Dr Murphy called for people across Ireland to join in September’s All-Age Climate Strike and to support initiatives like Climate Case Ireland which tries to use the courts to force the State to show leadership in responding to the worsening crisis.
Trócaire has also expressed dismay at the move.
“The impacts of climate change today are already at crisis levels in the countries we are working in,” said Niamh Garvey, Trócaire Head of Policy and Advocacy. “People in south-east Africa are still picking up the pieces from Cyclone Idai earlier this year and food-aid needs in the region will remain exceptionally high through to 2020 as a result.
“While the Government is doing everything it can to protect an industry that must be phased out rapidly if we are to avoid climate breakdown, poor and vulnerable people on the frontlines of climate change impacts are fighting for their lives,” she said.