News on the climate law.
Posted by Molly Walsh on September 27, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Climate policy has ticked along steadily since the Fine Gael / Labour government came to power last spring. Progress has been steady rather than spectular, but the stage is set for key decisions to be taken in the next couple of months.
A good starting point has been the Programme for Government, which has the following commitment to a climate law.
- "We will publish a Climate Change Bill which will provide certainty surrounding government policy and provide a clear pathway for emissions reductions, in line with negotiated EU 2020 targets."
This is certainly thanks to the campaigning efforts of Friends of the Earth supporters and allies, reflected in the fact that all the main parties made commitments to climate legislation during the general election campaign. Only Labour promised a law at the last election in 2007.
Government Legislation Programme
In the legislative programme published on 4th April and updated on 14th September climate change legislation appears in Section C, "Bills in respect of which heads have yet to be approved by Government" and says "Publication Expected - 2012".
Minister Hogan and his Department
In a meeting with the Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership on 18th May, attended by Friends of the Earth director, Oisin Coghlan, Minister Hogan laid out his approach to the issue.
- He said he is committed to having a Bill enacted before the end of 2012
- He wants to get it done early in the electoral cycle to avoid the mess that happened when the "old Bill" got caught up in pre-election politics.
- But he doesn't want to rush it. He wants to prepare the ground, including by engaging with stakeholders, to avoid the opposition that met the last Bill.
- He said he would like to publish Heads for the new Bill this year and refer it to the appropriate Oireachtas committee to hold stakeholder hearings, which would inform the preparation of the full Bill.
On his appointment he initiated an internal review of climate policy by his Department. It was due to completed in time for the first meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change but was delayed due to other priorities. It is now finished and will be considered by the committee at it's next meeting in October.
Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy
This new Cabinet Committee met for the first time on 30th June. It is chaired by the Taoiseach and convened by Minister Hogan. Nine out of 15 cabinet ministers sit on it, as does the Attorney General and three ministers of state. This committee will oversee climate policy in general, including presumably the preparation and passing of legislation. It is serviced by an inter-departmental senior officials group. The Committee is due to meet again in October.
The Cabinet Committee on Climate and the Minister's desire to get the legislation passed by the end of next year are good steps. The urgency of climate change means that this process can't go fast enough. Here in Friends of the Earth we are keeping a close watch on all climate policy and climate politics and we're continuing to push this Environment minister, just as we did the last one, to make Irish climate policy something we can all be proud of.