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As the disgusting invasion of Ukraine continues sending fossil fuel prices rocketing further, I have high hopes this unwanted war is driving home the sheer urgency of ending our reliance on oil and gas. I have never seen the western world so united since Russia started on its neighbour.

What’s happening in Ukraine at the hands of Vladimir Putin has many layers but here I want to focus on what we can glean from the role of oil and gas in this whole mess. I spoke last week about the devastating impacts of conflict on the environment and how war fuels a rise in emissions.

But in recent days, the penny seems to have dropped on our need to consign oil and gas to the history books. As people around the world rally to Ukraine’s aid with funding, supplies, satellites and even combat skills, I can also see seeds of hope sprouting.

Read more:DAERA facing legal action over gas caverns near Game of Thrones site

My social media is filled with people hitting out at big oil and gas. Banks are being called out for their role in supporting the Russian fossil fuel companies helping fund Putin’s dirty war.

At a Kent port, a tanker containing Russian gas was turned away after dockers supported by trade union Unison threatened a rebellion. And people up and down the country grow increasingly angry at rising oil and gas prices, that would never have been a reality had our governments properly funded renewables over the last decade.

SSE Airtricity announced its highest gas price hike in over a decade on Friday, while people rushing to fill their oil tanks have seen £60 increases over the course of one day. While the £200 Department for Communities energy support payment has to be welcomed for those most in need of support to heat their homes - it will hardly put a dent in the bills we all face. In short, the continued supremacy of fossil fuels is hurting us all.

As I write this, I have a hot water bottle on my knee to stay warm. It’s hard to keep up with the rising costs of gas as I work from home and so I avoid turning it on for as long as I can. We are all suffering because of the energy structures our governments have supported and subsidised over the years. But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.

Imagine having a home so well insulated, your heating bills are a fraction of the cost or a ground source heat pump that keeps you warm using only renewables. Then think about how much electricity prices would fall if everything we needed came from energy sources like wind, solar and green hydrogen.

If we are all united in encouraging our governments to finally give renewables the support they need, we would all be better off. Reliance on oil and gas isn’t just a climate issue - it’s making us all poorer.

If there’s one silver lining from what’s happening in Ukraine, I truly hope it’s that everyone can finally see just how much more we will all lose if our government doesn’t shun fossil fuels for good. Clearly still under the spell of petro-giants, they’ve clearly failed to protect us from the ongoing energy crisis.

As more and more go cold and hungry as a result of spiralling energy costs, I truly believe the situation warrants the same urgency given to Coronavirus.

Climate Bill

Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots (Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

This week in Northern Ireland, our Environment Minister Edwin Poots was successful in splitting greenhouse gas reduction targets in his Climate Bill so farmers won’t have to try so hard to reduce methane. The greenhouse gas is more harmful than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as it holds more heat.

Minister Poots said his victory, which means NI’s methane emissions need only fall 46% from 1990 levels, was a “win for common sense”. Proof, if any was needed, that the IPCC’s ‘dire warning’ everything is at stake if we don’t keep global temperatures increases below 1.5C (we are now at 1.1C) fell on deaf ears here.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony when just a few days later, his department revealed just how badly NI is performing on emissions reductions. The latest Northern Ireland greenhouse gas projections from Poots’ own department show we have a hell of a way to go.

DAERA estimates show NI pumped the equivalent of 21m tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere in 2019 - down just 18% from 1990. NI created 26m tons of greenhouse gases in 1990, which is the baseline year reductions are measured from.

According to official projections we are on course to cut emission by just another 3m tonnes to 18MtCO2e by 2030 - 32% from 1990. Northern Ireland’s continuing poor performance in reducing greenhouse emissions, means we have another 68% to go by 2050 if Edwin Poots’ net zero climate bill passes.

Fun fact

Scattered tree stumps along the River Lagan after the first woman Mayor's tree was chopped down
Scattered tree stumps along the River Lagan before the ban began (Image: Justin Kernoghan/Belfast Live)

It is now illegal to cut down trees, trim hedges or remove scrub across Northern Ireland because it’s bird nesting season.

The period runs from March 1 to August 31 in a bid to protect our winged friends, their nests and eggs.

NI’s biodiversity is declining before our very eyes - and if we lose that, everything is at stake.

If we’re going to save nature and everything it does for us, I’d urge you pick up the phone if you see any one felling trees, cutting hedges or trimming away at things that by law are not allowed under the Wildlife (NI) Order.

Wildlife crimes can be reported to the PSNI on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

For further information, contact your local CAFRE Agri-Environment adviser on 0300 200 7842 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Save Our Bees

Dr Una Fitzpatrick, head of the All-Ireland Pollinator
Dr Una Fitzpatrick, head of the All-Ireland Pollinator (Image: Shauna Corr/Belfast Live)

There are 100 bee species on the island of Ireland, a third of which are now at risk of extinction according to pollinator expert Dr Una Fitzpatrick. Insects like bees, wasps, butterflies, moths and flies are vital in the production of around 75% of the world’s crops.

Head of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Dr Fitzpatrick, who helped design SuperValu’s Save Our Bees campaign, has a number of tips to help them help us.

They are:

  • Don’t cut your grass as often to allow natural wildflowers to grow - there’s no need for expensive and largely ineffective wildflower mixes
  • No Mow May which lets flowers like clover grow naturally as food for bees
  • Let dandelions be as they’re vital food for insects
  • Don’t spray weed killers as it’s “detrimental to pollinators”
  • Buy plants that are rich in pollen and nectar

You can get more tips at pollinators.ie

Follow me @ShaunaReports on Twitter; https://www.facebook.com/ShaunaCorrJournalist or https://www.linkedin.com/in/shaunacorr/ for all the latest environmental news and views.

Read more:No environmental impact assessments on tree felling along Lagan

Read more:Tree planted by Belfast's first woman mayor to be chopped down

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