By Gary McDonald
“I believe we have a chance here, a chance to replace a climate of fear and anxiety with a new climate of action and opportunity, that’s in our hands, responding to the challenge of the century with creativity, imagination, courage and, above all, determination”
The sheer hypocrisy of this drivel that was uttered by Leo Varadkar at the recent UN climate summit in New York was indeed matched by the shameful actions that he and his Fine Gael government have so recently taken.
The Irish state has just given a company, owned 50-50 by Hess LNG (a subsidiary of the US multinational Hess Corporation) and Poten & Partners Inc, the green light to build a 500MW gas power plant, liquid gas storage containers and an import terminal on the Shannon Estuary in County Kerry.
Pollutive and dangerous
This construction would see Ireland strategically placed to receive Hess LNG supplies from its operations from all over the globe, attracting large volumes of sea-based traffic carrying the dangerous fracked liquid gas to and from Ireland. The construction would undoubtedly have devastating effects on the local ecosystem.
The fracked shale gas industry is known to be extremely pollutive and highly dangerous, so accidents are bound to occur. To add insult to injury, it’s also very likely that the project will receive government funding to support the multimillion-euro construction!
The US fracked shale gas industry is most at fault for the huge rise in global methane emissions over the past decade. Worryingly, fracked gas is mostly composed of methane, which is an even more potent greenhouse gas that traps in the atmosphere even greater amounts of heat than CO2.
Blow to climate
If the construction of this facility was allowed to proceed, it would deliver another blow to the Earth’s environment and it would be another setback in the global fight against climate change. We must resist its construction and any further expansion of the fossil fuel industry with protest action.
This is yet another instance of a capitalist government demonstrating, once again, not only an inability to take meaningful action against climate change, but a willingness to foster it by continually supporting the interests of the industry, big business and vulture funds. Fine Gael attempt to present themselves as champions of the environment but, in reality, they are complicit in its destruction.
That is why the meaningful change required to avert complete catastrophe must come from below in the form of system change.
Organised movements of the working class, joining and becoming active in trade unions, taking collective strike action in their workplace, all the while arming themselves with socialist ideas, could bring about the end of the fossil fuel industry and the system that drives it, capitalism.
Using these methods of political action, these industries need to be taken into democratic public ownership worldwide so that we can begin the immediate transition away from the production of fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy.