Lack of political leadership on climate change fed opposition to wind energy - Today's Climate Bill can reset debate

Issued in news on April 15, 2014 at 09:49:00.

Lack of political leadership on climate change fed opposition to wind energy - Today's Climate Bill can reset debate

Friends of the Earth has claimed that a lack of political leadership on climate change has fed opposition to wind energy and that strong climate change legislation can reset the public debate on renewable energy. The claim comes as opponents of wind energy gather for a national protest in Dublin and the Cabinet is due to decide on the shape of the long-awaited Climate Bill.

Commenting, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisín Coghlan, said

"This Government has been noticeably silent on the challenges and opportunities posed by tackling climate change. There has been no leadership on the rapid transition we face to stop the climate crisis becoming a climate crash.

"Instead people see only individual pieces of the jigsaw - some policies they mostly like, such as home insulation grants, and some which many dislike such as the carbon tax or plans for new pylons. The public is never shown the picture on the front of the jigsaw box - the sustainable future we are trying to build.

"That's a key aim of introducing climate legislation. To have that national conversation. For our leaders to articulate their vision of a low-carbon Ireland and the choices we face in getting there and to engage the public in a real debate on our options.

"Ireland ratified the UN climate convention 20 years ago this week and in the intervening decades no Government has led a proper national debate nor adopted a robust action plan and stuck with it. Our greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, the latest year we have data for, are the same as they were in 1994, at 58mt. The IPCC and the EU reckon we will need to drop to between 3 and 12mt by 2050."

The Climate Bill, due to be debated by Cabinet today, is an opportunity for leadership. To have the national debate and decide on a national objective. To lay out a robust framework for policy-making based on evidence and to ensure there is independent oversight and parliamentary accountability for the action plans we adopt.

Commenting, Mr Coghlan continued:

"Politicians often tell us that climate change is not an issue on the doorsteps. Our answer is simple: banking regulation was not an issue on the doorsteps in 2002 or even 2007 but voters would have been grateful if you'd heeded the warning signs of an overheating economy."

"Indeed we see parallels between the causes of the financial crisis and the causes of the climate crisis: poorly understood risk, a short-term focus on business-as-usual, and faith in "light-touch" regulation. We cannot afford to repeat those mistakes. If we let the climate crisis become a crash there is no way back. Nature doesn't do bailouts.

"The Climate Bill is the equivalent of the banking regulation we should have had 10 years ago. To engineer anything like a soft-landing as we make the transition to a low-carbon future, however, means we need to ensure the Bill is robust enough to work, unlike the weak draft the Government published a year ago."

The Oireachtas environment committee gave the Government's draft very careful consideration last year, hearing from over 20 stakeholder groups and experts. Their report is a fair reflection of the balance of perspectives they heard. It by no means recommends everything Friends of the Earth has been calling for, but its proposals would restore integrity to the Bill.

This is the key test for the Government. Will they implement the proposals in the Committee's report. It's a test not just for their seriousness on climate change, days after the IPCC's latest report stressed the affordability and urgency of action, it's a test of their credibility on political reform. Pre-legislative scrutiny by Oireachtas Committees is the cornerstone of the Government's Dáil reform. How will it look if they ignore this Committee's report?

The Bill itself is in fact a key piece of political reform - with the aim of introducing expert advice, timely planning and action, and transparency and accountability into an area of national policy-making where they have been sorely missing.

The key questions to look out for when the revised draft is published today or tomorrow, are the following:

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4 tests for the revised climate Bill

Issued in the blog on April 14, 2014 at 00:35:00.

Weak Climate Bill 1 - Stop Climate Chaos coalition slams Climate Bill as too weak to work.
Stop Climate Chaos coalition slams Climate Bill as too weak to work.

A year ago, Friends of the Earth said the Government's draft Climate Bill was "like a car without an engine" and Stop Climate Chaos called it simply "too weak to work".
But the public hearings held by the Oireachtas Joint Committee last summer were very inclusive and thorough. Their subsequent report represents common ground across political parties and among a wide range of stakeholders on the contents of the Bill. Secondly, the process of developing a revised Heads of Bill is a test of the political reforms initiated by this Government to improve the democratic process by increasing the legislative role played by Oireachtas Committees. The courses of action highlighted in the report point to areas where significant improvements can be made to the Heads of Bill. While they are not as strong as we in would have liked, we believe they are the minimum that need to be reflected in the Bill in order to ensure its effectiveness. Specifically:

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Warning of floods and food shortages in Ireland

Issued in news on April 04, 2014 at 17:17:00.

floods ireland

Warning of floods and food shortages in Ireland

Frank McDonald Irish Times

Ireland is likely to face more extreme weather events such as the recent flooding and storm surges, increased water restrictions and shortages of animal fodder and even food due to drought as the impacts of global warming become more severe.

That's what some of our experts have deduced from the latest report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released last Monday, which said that the impacts of global warming were already being felt "on all continents and across the oceans".

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Green paper on future energy policy to be published within months

Issued in news on April 02, 2014 at 10:27:00.

Minister Pat rabbitte.

Green paper on future energy policy to be published within months

Frank McDonald Irish Times

A green paper on future energy policy for Ireland will be published within the next month or so, Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte has told the Oireachtas Environment Committee.

He said yesterday that his department was also preparing a new national planning framework for renewable energy that would "prescribe where wind farms can be built and where they can't be built".

The Minister said both policy documents were being "driven by the goal of decarbonisation" for the electricity sector, especially in view of the "shocking implications" of the UN's latest scientific report on climate change.

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Become part of the movement against fracking in Ireland and win Theatre Tickets.

Issued in news on March 13, 2014 at 09:53:00.

no fracking ireland

Working in conjunction with groups such as No Fracking Dublin

Are you being deluged with leaflets from local election candidates already?

Would you like to be at the theatre when they next call to the door?

We need your help. And in return you can win 2 tickets to see Donal O'Kelly's new play Little Thing, Big Thing - "a high octane jump into the world of international energy skullduggery" - which is touring the country over the next month.

Along with activists from local fracking-free groups we want to collect the contact details of all the candidates running in the local elections around the country.

The best place to find that information is on the leaflets that are coming through your door.

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Internship - Young FoE Coordinator Job Description 2014

Issued in publications on January 28, 2014.

YFOE logo - high res

We are looking for a dynamic coordinator to help us strengthen the Young Friends of the Earth network. This is a unique opportunity to join a young, forward thinking team, to learn fast and to take on considerable levels of responsibility supporting Young Friends of the Earth on issues including climate change and energy. Friends of the Earth campaigns for sustainable and just societies and for the protection of the environment and is part of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International. Your role as Young Friends of the Earth Coordinator will be to build and maintain a dynamic and diverse youth network that empowers young people to campaign for environmental justice and sustainability.

More information on the job description can be found here

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 11th February 2014. Interviews will be held on Tuesday 18th February 2014.


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EU 2030 Climate Plan Disregards Science Ireland must fight for stronger renewables target

Issued in news on January 22, 2014 at 15:23:00.

Dublin, January 22 - EU plans to tackle climate change by the year 2030, announced in Brussels today, have been heavily criticized by environment group Friends of the Earth. The policies proposed by the European Commission disregard climate science, which makes clear the need to urgently and drastically cut emissions to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming.


In the plans the EU would commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels) and would not set binding national targets for increasing renewable energies or for reducing energy use.


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A tribute to Nelson Mandela by the Director of Friends of the Earth South Africa, Bobby Peek

Issued in the blog on December 06, 2013 at 12:59:00.

President Mandela at Engen Oil Refinery Protest 1995 - Photo David Wiley  - President Mandela addressing protesters outside the Engen Oil Refinery in Durban in 1995
President Mandela addressing protesters outside the Engen Oil Refinery in Durban in 1995

A guest blog, by Bobby Peek, Director of Groundwork (Friends of the Earth South Africa). This is his reflection on the death of the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.


The environmental justice movement, and indeed my own environmental justice activism is grounded by the experience of working with Madiba to ensure that South Africans achieve the promise of a life that was enshrined by our Constitution, a life where people live in relations of solidarity and equity with each other and in non-degrading and positive relationships with their environments.

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Coverage of the IPCC report

Issued in news on October 03, 2013 at 12:21:00.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

On Friday 27th the Interngovernmental Panel of Climate Change released its long awaited Fifth Assessment of climate change science. And Stop Climate Chaos held a pedal-powered event in the Science Gallery to highglight the report and its findings.

Here's the official two-page version of the IPCC report.

And here's a sample of the coverage of the report and the Stop Climate Chaos reaction to it.

It was the lead item on the RTE Nine O'Clock News, including interviews with Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan, and Professor John Sweeney of NUIM, Ireland's leading climate scientist.

Also on Friday

TV3: The 5:30 News, report by Aisling Ní Choisdealbha. Interview with John Sweeney and Oisin Coghlan:

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What has the IPCC ever done for you?

Issued in the blog on September 25, 2013 at 11:34:00.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

On Friday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will publish the first part of it's new assessment report on climate science. The last one, in 2007, won it the Nobel Peace Prize. 

You can join me and Prof John Sweeney for a "first look" at the report and what it means at a Stop Climate Chaos event in the Science Gallery at lunchtime on Friday.

Here's a quick overview of why I think it matters. Come along on Friday for a fuller picture, disucssion and a chance to power the whole event uisng Gavin Harte's bicycle generator.

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