A project to import fracked liquified natural gas (LNG) through Cork Harbour in Ireland has ceased.

In response to Green TD (equivalent of MP) Neasa Hourigan’s parliamentary question, Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Green Party and Minister for the Environment and Minister for Transport, confirms:

“As Ireland moves towards carbon neutrality, it does not make sense to develop LNG terminals that import fracked gas. The Programme for Government is clear that the Government does not support the importation of fracked gas and commits to developing a policy statement to establish that approach.”

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Port of Cork company and US LNG company Next Decade will not be renewed. This effectively terminates any plans to build LNG import terminal infrastructure, after numerous roadblocks to the Green Party motion at the city council level back in 2019.

This win for locals occurs against the backdrop of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) being tabled in Ireland’s legislature just weeks ago. After many Green TDs stood their ground in opposition, the vote has since been postponed to later in January.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, a major Canada-Europe trade agreement includes special provisions allowing corporations to sue states for laws or regulations a corporation believes or claims cost it money or may impact future profits.

Globally, more than half of these cases contest state rules on environmental protection, and around two-thirds of these cases were won by corporations or some type of settlement.

What many environmental organizations in Ireland fear with CETA, and with Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms in general is the amount of power they give foreign (in this case, Canadian) corporations, over the government.

Some are concerned about the impact CETA will have on the upcoming Green Deal in the EU.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie, TD Neasa Hourigan says, “It’s an extraordinary position to take, considering there’s absolutely no time pressure on the CETA decision. There’s a constitutional challenge in Germany. Cyprus has challenged it also, and the Dutch Greens have recently blocked it.”

In 2017, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan spoke out publicly against CETA, stating it was constructed around the interests of big corporate lobbyists rather than the public interest.

More recently in 2020, Ryan has changed his stance on the matter. After leading the party into a coalition government with centre-right parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the leader of the Green Party has been criticized at times for siding with the right-wing establishment.

Following the difference of stances on the matter, two-thirds of elected Green Party councillors voted that the party should have a national convention on CETA. However, the ratification of the trade agreement is set to be revisited in the Oireachtas later this month.

For more on the Cork LNG Project:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-01-14/europe-drops-another-project-to-buy-u-s-lng-in-green-push

https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/munster/arid-40207001.html

For more on CETA in Ireland:

https://www.antaisce.org/news/ceta-vote-imperils-irish-climate-and-nature-action

https://www.thejournal.ie/neasa-hourigan-ceta-green-party-5300456-Dec2020/

Sarah Cui

Sarah Cui is in her fourth year of undergraduate studies in Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo. Her background is intercultural, having grown up in both Ottawa and northwestern China. Her areas of interest include environmental politics, conservation and food sustainability. In her free time, Sarah enjoys connecting with friends, hiking, identifying plants and learning a new language.

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