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Greens flexing muscles not jumping ship

Posted by Oisín Coghlan on May 18, 2009 at 03:57 PM

Green Party banner: Climate Change - It's Time to Act

I'm puzzled by the political analysis in the media since Dan Boyle called for a review of the Programme for Government last Friday. Every piece I've read concludes that the Greens are, in Stephen Collins words in today's Irish Times, "positioning themselves for a withdrawal from coalition in the not too distant future".

It seems equally plausible to me that they are seeking to use their increased leverage to secure policy gains. Policy gains they can show their potential voters when a general election does come around. When the Greens went into government two years ago Fianna Fail had just won its third election in a row and didn't need their votes. Now they have the numbers to bring down the government and Fianna Fail is much weakened in the polls.

John Gormley is on record as saying that climate change was the reason they went into government. They may have gone rather quiet on the subject as the economic crisis took hold in the last six months but presumably they still know that the looming climate crisis poses an even bigger threat to our way of life. Moreover, time is running out to prevent climate change running out of control and, in all likelihood, the Greens know this is their one chance in government to lay the foundations of a low-carbon future. And finally, John Gormley has been campaigning on climate change for over 20 years. He's hardly going to leave government months before he's due to represent Ireland at the historic UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

In that case a climate change law must be the top priority in any renegotiation of the programme for government. A law would give certainty to business and households and it's the best way to make sure all departments across government, and all governments across time, take climate change seriously and take action consistently.

A couple of months before the last election the Greens ran a campaign called "Climate Change - It's Time to Act". For the election itself the slogan was simply "It's Time". Well, time is running out now. It's time to enact a lasting framework for action on climate change.

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