PfG Your questions answered
Posted by Friends of the Earth on July 01, 2020 at 02:16 PM
In advance of our webinar on the Programme for Government (June 23rd), we asked our supporters to submit questions about the proposed Programme that we could put to our panellists. We received over 300 questions, which were grouped into topics that then formed the basis of our webinar discussion. Unfortunately, we didn’t get time during the webinar to address every question or topic, but here is a flavour of what issues did come up, and what was particularly important for our supporters to have more information on.
Most of our supporters wanted to know more about the 7% greenhouse gas emissions figure - what was actually committed to in the Programme for Government and what this meant for emissions reductions over the lifetime of the incoming Government and beyond to 2030. Have a listen to the useful insights from Dr. Hannah Daly from University College Cork on the emissions implications of what is being proposed. You might like to revisit this blog from Friends of the Earth on “Seven things you should know about the 7% emissions reduction rate everyone is talking about”.
Questions were raised in relation to commitments on ending support for LNG infrastructure and the banning of importing fracked gas. Other concerns related to the carbon tax proposals and measures to ensure the protection of people who are experiencing energy poverty, or who are locked into having to use fossil fuels to heat their homes and/or for transport. Some of our supporters felt that the Programme failed to deliver measures to address Ireland’s housing crisis. During the webinar, Ciara Murphy from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice gave her perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of what is being proposed to ensure broader social justice priorities are achieved, including the provision of affordable and accessible housing.
Many of you asked about how political accountability can be ensured over the lifetime of the new Government to guarantee delivery of the climate measures proposed. Sadhbh O’Neill, policy advisor with Stop Climate Chaos, pointed to the importance of the provisions included in the Programme for a strengthened robust governance framework to ensure transparency and accountability, and lock in sustained climate action. A new climate change amendment bill is proposed to be introduced into the Dáil within 100 days, which was a key demand of the One Future campaign coordinated by Stop Climate Chaos in advance of the General Election.
Damien O’Tuama of the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network addressed a small number of questions related to what’s being proposed on cycling and active travel infrastructure, and sustainable transport more generally. Stop Climate Chaos welcomed the measures in the Programme on sustainable transport. Interestingly, we did not receive any questions related to Ireland’s responsibilities to helping poorer countries adapt to a changing climate. During the webinar, Niamh Garvey of Trócaire outlined how commitments on climate finance contained within the Programme for Government were particularly weak and that further clarification was required from the incoming Government.
Finally, a number of questions were also submitted in relation to what the Programme has to say on reducing emissions from the agriculture and land use sector, and helping to protect and restore Ireland’s biodiversity. Unfortunately, we didn’t get time during the webinar to discuss commitments on agriculture, but you might like to revisit our webinar on “What contribution Irish agriculture can make to climate action” and read our latest briefing on the topic “Agricultural emissions in Irish climate change mitigation policy: Science and Solutions”
A key conclusion from the webinar was that the now vibrant and diverse climate movement, including the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and its members, must continue to play a vital role in ensuring that the climate commitments made in the Programme for Government are delivered upon on-time and in full, whilst continuing to advocate for more transformative climate action over the next five years.