ACCORDING to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Ireland are to end exploration for non-renewable fossil fuels in the near future, becoming one of the first countries in the world to do so.
During a speech at the UN climate summit on Monday, Varadkar confirmed that the Irish government had agreed to end exploration for oil and gas because "it is incompatible with a low carbon future."
As Ireland continues to lead the way in the global fight against climate change, the Taoiseach declared that while the search for, and extraction of, oil will be shut down in the country, gas exploration will continue for some time as they take a more gradual shift to a carbon-free economy.
Licensing for oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic "closed" area - which is 80% of Ireland's waters - will now end, although for the time being, they'll still be accepted in the Celtic and Irish Sea.
The Irish Offshore Operators’ Association said it will be seeking clarity on the revised arrangements. It said it remained committed to Ireland’s efforts to transition to renewable energy, "however energy security for Ireland is an important part of that process".
Environmental and development organisations including the Green Party welcomed the announcement but said that continuing gas exploration and extraction contradicted the latest climate science findings.
Friends of the Earth director Oisín Coghlan said the Taoiseach had sent "an important signal to investors that Ireland accepts the majority of fossil fuels have to stay in the ground if we are to contain climate change. However, Ireland is still running the risk of carbon lock-in by not phasing out gas exploration now also."