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Micheal Martin restates Fianna Fail commitment to Climate Change Bill

Posted by Oisín Coghlan on February 14, 2011 at 11:30 PM

I got the following email from Micheál Martin today, in response to an email from me (below) on the day after his election as leader of Fianna Fáil. It reaffirms his party's commitment to Climate Change Bill that the Government published before Christmas.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <michealmartintd@eircom.net>
Date: 14 February 2011 15:32

Dear Oisin,

The protection of our environment is a priority for Fianna Fáil. We are committed to an ambitious environmental programme which includes tackling climate change. We published the Climate Change Response Bill 2010 on the 23rd December 2010 which passed first stage in the Seanad before the Dail was dissolved.

The Bill set out Fianna Fáil's commitment to legislating for a process that allows us to plan for greenhouse emissions reduction and adaptation to climate change, as the Bill makes clear. Fianna Fáil believes this must be done in a way that safeguards economic development and competitiveness.

Fianna Fáil believes Ireland should be consistent with EU targets and we have consistently supported the international process under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. A major change in our approach to climate change policy is a new national priority on transition. We are no longer solely focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While they are important indicators of progress, we must also have a longer term and wider vision.

The Climate Change Bill should enable us to pursue a smart economy which is highly productive, competitive, resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable.

Yours sincerely,

Micheál Martin, T.D.
Leader,
Fianna Fáil

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Oisin Coghlan - Friends of the Earth
Date: 27 January 2011 16:00
Subject: Congratulations, and will the manifesto include a commitment to climate change legislation?

Dear Deputy Martin,

Congratulations on your election as leader of Fianna Fáil.

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you but as the son of a public health lecturer I have long admired your courage and conviction in introducing the workplace smoking ban. My first campaign badge was the one of a knotted cigarette that the Health Education Bureau handed out in the 1980s.

I write now in my capacity as Director of Friends of the Earth to ask you to include a commitment to climate change legislation in the Fianna Fáil election manifesto.

We know from tracking this issue that a huge amount of work was done in interdepartmental discussions, in the AG's office and at Cabinet level to prepare and agree the Government's Climate Change Response Bill 2010.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil members collaborated very productively with colleagues on the Oireachtas climate change committee to draft a Bill with all-party backing, which was also introduced in the Dáil before the end of last year.

Obviously the political context of the last few months did not provide the time or the space for the Oireachtas to deliberate on the merits of either Bill, one that had been stress tested by the civil service and an other that had secured cross-party support.

The cross-party support is none the less impressive, and we are very hopeful that it will be maintained and strengthened into the 31st Dáil. Can you confirm that Fianna Fáil remains committed to climate legislation that balances the "transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy" with "the need to secure and safeguard the economic development and competitiveness of the State", as the Climate Change Response Bill puts it.

Reducing carbon emissions in Ireland, just like reducing smoking, requires a mixture of education, taxation and regulation, and more. A robust climate law will provide the regulatory framework to drive the innovation we need in public policy, private enterprise and personal behaviour. It will also send a genuine signal to international investors that Ireland means business on climate change and is an attractive location for green enterprise.

As a TD who has served in 4 ministries you know better than anyone how challenging it can be to overcome the tendency to silo-thinking and interdepartmental competition. An effective climate law will also institutionalize the cross-governmental coordination required to tackle a complex issue like emissions reduction. Having served in Cabinet since Ireland signed the Kyoto Protocol you know how difficult it has been to adopt and implement policies to meet our Kyoto Protocol. Not for want of potential policies, which were identified at the outset, but for the reasons I've mentioned.

I was struck last night to hear you talk about how the Oireachtas never once debated the banking system in the years when mistakes where being made. An effective climate law will provide a strong role for the Oireachtas in assessing climate policy over time and ensuring Government accountability for its implementation.

Politicians never tire of telling me that people never ask them about climate change on the doorsteps. My answer is that people weren't asking about banking regulation 5 or 10 years ago but they would have proved very grateful if politicians has gone ahead and done it.

Just as it would have demonstrated foresight and leadership to include robust banking regulation in the Fianna Fáil manifesto in 2002 or 2007 it makes sense now to include climate change legislation in the 2011 manifesto.

Please feel free to have whichever frontbench spokesperson is given the climate change brief to contact me if you have any queries. Otherwise I look forward with confidence to reading the manifesto, and its climate change section, when it comes out.

Wishing you well in your new role.

Yours sincerely,
Oisin Coghlan
--
Director
Friends of the Earth
9 Upper Mount Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

Ph: +353-1-6394652
www.foe.ie
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