An international coalition of activists, physicians and scientists – including Hollywood screen legend Jane Fonda – is calling on Ireland to endorse a resolution to the UN General Assembly to ban fracking around the world.
More than 700 environmental campaign groups, frontline community organisations and climate activists including Jane Fonda and fellow American actor Mark Ruffalo and Irish magician Keith Barry, as well as around 100 Irish groups, have signed a letter that was presented to the Irish government and UN Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nelson.
It urges Ireland to call for a global ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing/fracking to extract fossil fuels from the ground.
“A global ban on fracking will improve public health and safety everywhere, not just in communities that have been damaged and scarred by unconventional oil and gas operations,” said American paediatrician and president-elect of Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania, Edward Ketyer.
“Negative health effects from fracking - complications of pregnancy and poor birth outcomes, damage to the heart and lungs, mental health impacts, cancer - will all be reduced as a result of a global fracking ban,” added Sandra Steingraber, of the Science and Environmental Health Network, and co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York.
Researchers at the Irish Centre for Human Rights also say that fracking is “incompatible with human rights and that the dangers posed by fracking cannot be mitigated through regulation.”
"The process of fracking involves widespread human rights violations, a point repeatedly highlighted by UN legal experts," said Dr Maeve O'Rourke, director of the Human Rights Law Clinic at the NUI Galway.
Keith Barry said he is also happy to sign up to the cause.
“I am delighted to have signed up to this and stand with Mark Ruffalo and Jane Fonda who I've always admired for their ongoing incredible work to highlight the risks of fracking on that side of the pond. I was proud when Ireland took its part and banned fracking. This is an incredible opportunity, and I want us to lead again. Poorer countries depend on us. We've been there. This would be an incredible achievement if Ireland were to lead the way on a global ban. Let's do this,” Barry said.
The move comes as it emerged last month that US investor New Fortress Energy will apply for planning permission to develop the Shannon Liquefied National Gas (LNG) terminal at a 600 acre site in Tarbert, Co Kerry.
This is despite Environment Minister Eamon Ryan’s announcement in May that Ireland will freeze any new LNG terminals pending an energy supply review.
A previous plan for the Shannon estuary was put on ice in 2019 after criticism by climate activists and US celebrities over the importation of fracked gas.
The new €650m project includes a 600 megawatt (MW) power plant with an integrated 120 MW battery storage facility, and an offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal moored at a jetty in the Shannon estuary, which would receive and store the gas.
The project would be the first of its kind in Ireland and would be able to power 600,000 homes.