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Have the Greens delivered on Climate Change?

Posted by Molly Walsh on November 26, 2010 at 12:20 AM

The short answer is no. The long answer goes something like this.

Not yet but they still can. Last Autumn the Greens renegotiated their programme for Government with Fianna Fail. As John Gormley said at the time, "Fianna Fail went into Government with us because they wanted us and now they're in Government with us because they need us" The Green Party's political capital was at its all time high. One of the key gains in the renewed programme for Government was that there would be a climate bill. I was delighted. This was something that Friends of the Earth had been calling for for a long time. When I was in Copenhagen last year John Gormley published the Framework for a climate change bill 2010. This had some strengths and some weaknesses. The plan was to publish the Heads of the Climate Bill in the First Quarter of 2010. The end of the first quarter of 2010 was a long time ago and still there is nothing. Nothing has been published by the Government on climate legislation since that Framework Document last December.

Its been a long old year and we kept being told that the bill was being worked on. For the whole year it was being worked on. When the Dail came back after the summer break we were very dissapointed to see that it wasn''t on the legislative programme and we issued a press release saying that. Ever since then we have pressured the greens on where the Climate Bill is and what is taking so long. For several months now the Green ministers have been saying it will be released "soon" or "in the very near future". Two weeks ago John Gormley tweeted the following "Heads of climate change bill to be agreed by cabinet on Tuesday"
However on Tuesday night came and not a peep out of the Greens on climate...

So I wrote to Minister Gormley to ask him what had happened. Late Friday night I got a very nice reply from him that said he was glad to tell me that the Government had agreed a Climate Bill and it would be published before the end of the Dail session this year. I had a nice weekend. On Monday the Greens announced they wanted a general election by the end of January. Effectively this means they are pulling out of Government in the new year. It changes everything.

If the Greens leave Government without passing Climate Legislation it will be a source of great dissapointment, not only to me but to many people. When John Gormley and Eamon Ryan were recommending going into Government to their members in the mansion house in 2007 they said they knew it was a deal with the devil. But they said that the urgency of climate change meant it was worth it. It was why they went to planet bertie, to save planet earth from the climate crisis. They still have time to deliver. It is three weeks before the Dail breaks for Christmas. Just yesterday the Taoiseach was responding to questions in the Dail about Climate legislation. Frustrated about the delay with the climate bill Deputy Liz McManus asked Brian Cowen to explain what the hell is going on. All he did was promise it would be published before the end of the year.

The Green party's legacy on climate hangs in the balance. Publish their Climate bill and get it into the Dail in the New Year and they will have something to be proud of. Leave without it, and they will have been to planet bertie and back, and failed on the aim of the mission.

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