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Minister Kelly Proposes Significant Amendments to Climate Bill

2 Jul 2015

Press release from Department of Environment

Having secured the approval of the Government, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Alan Kelly, T.D., has today (2 July 2015) announced that he will propose a series of significant amendments to the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 during Report Stage of the Bill in Dáil Éireann later this month.

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 provides a statutory basis for the national objective of transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by the year 2050. In doing so, it also gives a solid statutory foundation to the institutional arrangements necessary to enable the State to pursue and achieve that national transition objective.

In announcing these amendments today, Minister Kelly said: “I am proposing amendments which will strengthen the Climate Bill so as to make it even more responsive and significant to what is the major global challenge of our time. Having listened to the concerns of both deputies and environmental NGOs, and the reasoned arguments they put forward, I am putting forward measures and improvements that will enhance the strength of the bill,”

The amendments that the Minister is proposing to introduce in the Dáil are summarised as follows:

      (1) The inclusion of a reference to the policy of the Government on climate change in the Bill, as a touchstone for shaping both the National Mitigation Plan and the National Adaptation Framework. A key element with the Government’s climate policy is the April 2014 National Policy Position on Climate Change which outlined the key objectives, considerations and principles in moving towards a low carbon economic future.
      (2) The inclusion of a reference to the principle of climate justice in the Bill. Climate justice links human rights and development to achieve a human-centred approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its resolution equitably and fairly.
      (3) The reduction in the timeframe for the production of the first National Mitigation Plan from 24 to 18 months after enactment of the Bill. The National Mitigation Plan specifies the greenhouse gas emission reduction measures to be implemented over the following five-year period.
      (4) The inclusion of an explicit statement in the Bill that the Expert Advisory Council shall be independent in the performance of its functions. The functions of the Expert Advisory Council are to advise and make recommendations to Ministers and the Government on climate change mitigation and adaptation matters.
      (5) The reduction in the timeframe for the publication of the Expert Advisory Council’s periodic review reports from between 60 and 90 days after submission to the Minister to not more than 30 days after submission. Periodic review reports will focus, inter alia, on the need to maintain progress in achieving the national transition objective.
      (6) The incorporation of the initiatives and experiences of local authorities in implementing greenhouse gas emission reduction measures when developing and approving National Mitigation Plans.
      (7) The inclusion of a reference to the protection of public health when developing and approving National Mitigation Plans. The co-benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions often include a reduction in the emission of fossil fuel-burning pollutants into the atmosphere.
      (8) The change in the name of the “National Expert Advisory Council on Climate Change” to the “Climate Change Advisory Council”, modelling the format of the Fiscal Advisory Council.

These amendments are being proposed following extensive debate on the Bill both inside and outside the Oireachtas, as well as following representations from environmental NGOs.

Minister Kelly concluded by noting that: “When enacted, the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 will be the first dedicated climate change legislation ever introduced in Ireland. I intend to progress the Bill through the legislative process as quickly as possible, with a view to early enactment.”

The Bill was published in January 2015 and completed Committee Stage on 9 June. It is anticipated that the Bill will pass all stages in the Dáil before the Dáil rises later this month, with the intention of expediting consideration and passage through the Seanad in September once the Houses return.

 

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