Climate Bill — No targets, no ambition
Confirmation of no climate policy during lifetime of this Government
Monday 19th January 2015, Dublin.
The Government today published a Climate Bill which failed to set out any long-term targets for reducing Irish greenhouse gas emissions. The previous draft bill, published by the Green Party/Comhaontas Glas in 2010, mirrored the UK legislation in setting out a specific commitment to reduce emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. The new Bill contains nothing but vague aspirations and will undermine investment and confidence in the development of a greener economy. The projected publication of the Climate Mitigation Plan in 2017 confirms that there will be no climate policy for the lifetime of this Government.
Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan said today: “Reading the Climate Bill, one thing is clear: Fine Gael and Labour have no ambition when it comes to tackling climate change. Quite frankly, they don’t give a damn.
“We thought Phil Hogan was bad, but Alan Kelly is proving even worse. Everything he has done is driving us further in the wrong direction. Emissions are rising, while clean energy and public transport projects have been shelved. And our agriculture policy has been skewed to support large food processors, rather than small Irish farmers. Under the legislation, the first climate plan will now be required in 2017. The Government have effectively washed their hands of the issue.
“The lack of any long-term climate targets will kill investment in new low carbon economic infrastructure. The potential exists for thousands of jobs in the green economy, but by delaying today, those jobs will be lost to foreign competitors, and we will have a more expensive and difficult transition to make later on.
“Government is about choices. Generally they are difficult, and each option may have undesirable consequences. When this Government chose to slash the capital investment budget and stifle the development of public housing, we ended up with a housing crisis. In much the same way, the decision taken through this Climate Bill to do the minimum amount and ride it out for as long as possible, has stored up future pain that will come back to haunt us. It is a cop out from our greatest challenge.
“It has taken the Government four years to publish a bill which will put us back decades. At every stage of the consultation process fears were raised about the lack of any proper targets in the bill. Those representations have been completely ignored. Today’s failure should become a rallying call for a widespread social movement, demanding that Ireland play a part in tackling climate change, rather than shirking our responsibilities.”
Green Party Climate Spokesperson, Dr. Cara Augustenborg added: “What should be a day of congratulations for the completion of over a decade of perseverance is instead a day of mourning and frustration among those who have worked hard to solve the climate crisis. As published, the Climate Bill lacks any substance to create the change needed to address climate change in this country. The published Climate Bill is a substantially watered down version of the draft Climate Bill proposed by the Green Party in 2010, and weaker than the Labour Party’s own draft climate legislation proposed before they entered coalition.
“In Labour’s own words, the Climate Bill is intended to “represent a significant step towards positioning Ireland as a low carbon society”, but the bill fails at this first hurdle. As with so many of the Fine Gael-Labour government’s actions, the bill is merely lip service, delivering too little, too late on their pre-election promises.
“Ireland must cut its dependence on carbon-based energy sources, both to contribute to the climate change solution and to keep up with the rest of the world in stabilising and modernising our economy. The Green Party is committed to delivering a Climate Bill that truly creates a low carbon society and proposes substantial revision of this climate bill when it is debated, to aim for a fossil free Ireland by 2050.”