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Our climate action plan for Ireland

1 Dec 2006

Friends of the Earth has published a report on how Ireland can do its fair share to tackle climate change. The plan recommends specific measures to cut pollution from energy, transport, homes, offices, industry and agriculture. After a decade of rising emissions the central proposal is that the Oireachtas pass a Climate Security Act mandating 3% year-on-year cuts in climate pollution. The Friends of the Earth report comes after an EU warning that Ireland will overshoot its Kyoto target by more than 100% and yesterday's publication of the Stern Review which found it is up to 20 times cheaper to cut carbon emissions now than to do nothing and deal with the consequences of runaway climate change.

Friends of the Earth's Director, Oisin Coghlan, said:
"After a decade of failure on climate change Ireland needs a new framework for action. Friends of the Earth is calling for a Climate Security Act to make a 3% annual cut in climate pollution the law. The only way to make the shift to sustainability is in a planned, managed, step-by-step way. We need a sustained period of political leadership, innovative public policy and social partnership if we are to rise to the challenge ahead in a way that improves the quality of life for all."

"So far this government has given us only platitudes and prevarication on climate change. Nine years ago, just before Minister Dempsey agreed to the Kyoto Protocol, the ESRI published a report which said that business-as-usual policies would mean that Ireland's emissions would rise to 30% above 1990 levels by 2010. Now, nine years later, the EU is predicting Irish emissions in 2010 will have risen 29.6% from 1990 levels. Business-as-usual on climate pollution is exactly what this government has delivered," Mr Coghlan continued.

The Government is now promising a new climate change policy before the end of the year. Friends of the Earth's report includes a "12-step programme to cure Ireland's carbon addiction". As well as the Climate Security Act, steps which should be implemented include:

  • Putting a price on carbon emissions across the whole economy to encourage everyone to save energy and cut pollution. Two years ago the Government abandoned plans for a carbon tax. Now carbon pricing is a central recommendation of the Stern review.
  • Using December's budget to keep the promise to reform VRT and Motor Tax so cars are taxed according to their pollution per kilometre.
  • Reforming stamp duty so that the better the energy efficiency label the house has, the less you pay.
  • Introducing a congestion charge in Dublin now, at the canals. Offer a big discount for the least polluting cars and big penalties for highly polluting cars like SUVs.
  • Introducing a five-year freeze in all public transport prices to encourage people to make the shift to buses and trains. Put more buses on the roads now.
  • Promoting and supporting more and more local generation and distribution of electricity using renewable fuels. Two thirds of the energy is lost in the fossil-fuel based centralised generation and transmission system we have now.

"It is unbelievable that Minister Roche keeps repeating that Ireland is on the right track. We are failing to keep our Kyoto commitment while agreeing that Kyoto is just a modest first step. The Stern review gives weight to Friends of the Earth's argument that we need a paradigm-shift in public policy, akin to the Whitaker report 50 years ago, if Ireland is do to its fair share to prevent climate chaos. Instead, the Government is tinkering while the world warms. The new climate change strategy promised before the end of the year is this Government's last chance before the election to show it is serious about reducing climate pollution", Mr Coghlan concluded.

Notes
1) Friends of the Earth's report on a new National Climate Change Strategy for Ireland, including an Executive Summary, can be downloaded here.

2) The Government ran a public consultation on climate change policy, with little or no publicity, in August and September. Friends of the Earth submitted the report it is publishing today as part of that consultation. The Government has promised to publish all the submissions on the Department of the Environment website and to produce a new climate change strategy before the end of the year.

3) The EU's figures on Irish climate pollution are available here.

4) The press release accompanying the Stern Review is available here.

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