Oisín Coghlan has been Director of Friends of the Earth Ireland since 2005. Oisín heads the panel of representatives of the Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership and sits on the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). read more
Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for a strong Climate Law for 14 years - and this has been a major focus of our climate work in recent months - with much success! On Friday 16th July Ireland’s new Climate Bill passed its final vote - with all parties in the Seanad supporting it. Just a few weeks earlier the Dáil had passed the Bill by an incredible 129 votes to 10!
Media reports indicate that the Government’s revised Climate Bill will go to Cabinet for approval and publication on Tuesday. The Bill is a flagship commitment in the Programme for Government.
Climate legislation is about governance - about how we make climate policy and how we make sure policy is implemented. It is the framework to drive action rather than being a list of actions. Key elements include:
a long-term (2050) target
short-term (5 year) targets
a duty on Government to produce an action plan to actually cut polluting emissions in line with the targets
an expert council to provide independent advice to the Government and monitor progress
robust parliamentary oversight and ministerial accountability
I wrote last week about some updates on the Climate Bill. I mentioned that 2021 should be the year when Ireland finally gets a new, stronger, Climate Law. I was pretty apprehensive about putting those words on paper - fearing I may be tempting fate! Well….unfortunately I was right to be apprehensive. The Government is currently making its final decisions on the Climate Law and some alarm bells are starting to ring . Unless we apply strong pressure now, there’s a risk that the Climate Law could be watered down. So can you take this e-action I shared last week without delay? Asking your TDs to ensure the Government listens to the Joint Committee on Climate Action’s recommendations to strengthen the Climate Bill - instead of doing the opposite and making it weaker.
I’m almost scared to say it out loud - for fear of jinxing things. But here goes anyway….2021 should finally be the year that Ireland gets a new, stronger, Climate Law. I’ve got to admit, when the draft law was published last autumn I was disappointed. But a huge movement rose up, determined to make this law better. The actions of Friends of the Earth supporters - along with countless other activists, groups and organisations - were immense. Whether you took an e-action, called your TD or took part in the TD Lobby in December, your action has made a real difference.
The Oireachtas Committee tasked with scrutinizing the draft Climate Law really felt our pressure! This Committee has now produced a very good report, with a list of recommendations to strengthen the law. Having this report is a powerful tool in our campaigning tool box. Now we just need to use it! It’s crucial that the Government accepts the report’s recommendations - and addresses some remaining weaknesses in the Bill. So could you email your TDs asking them to ensure the Government does this? The Government will make its final decisions on the Climate Law in the next couple of weeks - so there’s no time to lose!
It’s hard to believe but Ireland could have a strong climate law before the year is out.
For the first time ever - and after years of campaigning - this is actually a distinct possibility. But - and this is what fills me with dread - there’s also a chance that this climate law could end up unfit for purpose.
Friends of the Earth, working with our partners in the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, have identified some very concerning loopholes in the climate law’s draft text. Loopholes that could undermine the law’s ability to drive emission reductions.
In recent weeks, Friends of the Earth was privileged to be involved in an amazing collaboration to produce “A Shared Vision for a Just Recovery”. This was published just before the budget last week and endorsed by 14 national coalitions and 50+ organizations from all sectors of Irish civil society, from trade unions to women’s and youth advocates, to community and homelessness organizations.
Together we laid out six principles for a fair and sustainable recovery from the social and economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more here.
On October 13th 2005 we launched our very first e-action to get all 166 TDs in the Dáil to sign a Climate Pledge promising that Ireland would do its fair share to tackle global climate change. And last week marked our 15 year anniversary! This e-action enabled the public to email their local TDs urging them to sign the pledge for the very first time.
Now fast-forward 15 years to today and our team is working away to ensure the Government pass a strong Climate Law. And emailing TDs and taking e-actions has become the bread and butter of our campaigns!
The Programme for Government was a hot topic when it was published in June. It generated much discussion and debate among many in the climate movement. With that in mind, we’d like to share a few thoughts on Friends of the Earth’s approach to evaluating the Programme for Government 2020.
Ireland needs the agriculture sector to make a real contribution to emissions reduction if we are going to do anything like our fair share to contain climate breakdown and fulfil the Paris Agreement.
But how much? And how? This debate can be fraught with confusing scientific information and no little spinning. Well, we're here to try and untangle it for you.
Watch our recent webinar on What Contribution can Agriculture make to Climate Action where were joined by our policy expert Sadhbh O'Neill to explain what's going on, along with Oonagh Duggan of BirdWatch Ireland and Ailbhe Gerrard of Brookfield Farm.