The Taoiseach was addressing the Seanad today and a couple of Senators were interested in raising climate change with him. Here's what I would have said. --
Your government has adopted a National Policy Position on Climate Action, underpinned by the Climate Act, that defines Ireland's transition objective for 2050 as an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between energy, housing and transport, and carbon neutrality for agriculture and land use, in line with the lower end of the EU's emissions goal for 2050. And your Government's White Paper on Energy has a target of reducing energy emissions by 80-95% by 2050, in line with the higher end of the EU's goal, and proclaims a vision of a "carbon-free" future for Ireland.
On his re-election as Taoiseach, Enda Kenny announced he was restructuring Ministerial Departments to better reflect the new Government's priorities. With that, he promptly abolished the Department of the Environment and scattered its functions across three Departments.
We have very little time to get this decision reversed. If this goes ahead, the words ‘environment’ and ‘heritage’ would be dropped from the titles of any Minister or Department, and Ireland would become the only EU member state without a Minister for the Environment.
We had real success last year in getting the Government to recognize the role of communities in the transition to a zero-carbon energy system. The new national energy policy, the White Paper, launched in December is very strong on a commitment to energy citizens and communities.
The election is in the closing stretch. The final leaders' debate is tonight. Will they discuss climate change? Probably not, but even if they do it'll be short and superficial at best. The reality, however, is that whoever forms the next Government will find climate change high on the policy agenda because of the Paris Agreement, looming EU targets and competing interest groups at home.
So how much thought have the parties actually given it? Below you can see and read for yourself.
We now have 6 parties who have confirmed they will have a representative there: Fine Gael (Senator Cáit Keane), Sinn Fein (Lynn Boylan MEP), AAA-PBP (Richard Boyd Barrett TD), Green Party (Eamon Ryan). Fianna Fail and Labour have yet to name their representative.
Whenever candidates call to the door over the next three weeks, say you’re concerned about climate change. Tell them now by email.
You can mention the flooding, fracking, or Ireland doing its fair share, on the doorstep if you want but, actually, even just saying you’re concerned means the TDs in the next Dáil will be that bit more likely to listen to us.
With less than 48 hours to go in the United Nations’ climate negotiations, you’d think we’d have some idea of what shape the global agreement on climate might look like, but the Pareto principle seems to apply to COP21: It takes 80% of the effort to complete the last 20%. They’ve whittled down the text considerably but the core messages remain unclear.
In simple terms, the three most contentious issues that have yet to be resolved in the Paris climate agreement are: