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Only a law can ensure Ireland acts on climate change

6 Nov 2006

Friends of the Earth wants Dáil to legislate as UN climate talks begin

As UN talks on tackling climate change get underway today in Nairobi, Kenya, Friends of the Earth is calling for leglislation to ensure Ireland does its fair share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental pressure group wants the Oireachtas to pass a Climate Security Act mandating 3% year-on-year cuts in emissions and establishing an independent body to monitor progress.

Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan, said:
"The science is clear, we need to cut emissions by at least two-thirds by 2050. The economics is clear, the sooner we act the cheaper it will be. What we need now is the politics. The only sensible way to make the shift we need is in a planned, step-by-step way. Long-term targets on their own don't work. Our failure to keep our Kyoto commitment shows that. All-party support for a Climate Security Act which makes 3% annual reductions the law is the best way forward."

In Britain, the Convservatives and Liberal Democrats are now supporting calls for such a law and Tony Blair's Government is indicating that a climate change bill will be included next week in the Queen's Speech which outlines the legislative plans for the next session of parliament.

The UN climate talks beginning today are the start of a process to agree what countries will have to do after the current Kyoto agreement runs out in 2012. All the parties to the Protocol agree that the emissions cuts agreed at Kyoto are just a first step and that more instense action will be needed if the world is to avoid danagerous levels of climate change. The fact that the talks are in Kenya will also put the international spotlight on the fact that Africa, already the poorest continent, will the hardest hit by climate change. Scientists are forecasting that more frequent droughts and falling crop yields will make it even harder for Africa to feed itself the more severe climate change becomes.

"Ireland sees itself at the forefront of the fight against poverty in Africa, with plans to spend €1.5 billion a year on overseas aid by 2012. But we're also the fifth most climate-polluting country in world per person and we're overshooting our Kyoto commitment by 100%. If we're serious about supporting Africa's development we have to cut our climate pollution as quickly as we raise our aid-spending," Mr Coghlan continued.

"The Government is promising a new National Climate Change Strategy before the end of the year. After a decade of failing to curb rising emissions my fear is the Government will continue to tinker at the edge of the problem, content to use taxpayer's money to buy their way out of Ireland's Kyoto commitment. But we can't buy our way out of our moral responsibility or our sense of solidarity with the poor of the world. What we need is to put our economy and society on the path to achieving not just our Kyoto target but the much greater cuts that will be needed for Ireland to do its fair share to prevent climate chaos. The Climate Security Act Friends of the Earth is calling for would do just that," Mr Coghlan concluded.

The Climate Security Act is the part of a "12-Step Programme to Cure Ireland's Carbon Addiction" devised by Friends of the Earth and elaborated in its submisison to the Government on what should be in the new National Climate Change Strategy for Ireland.

Click here for Friends of the Earth's briefing on the UN climate talks in Nairobi.

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