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Seanad to debate Climate Protection Bill

1 Oct 2007

Legislation would give government targets force of law

The Seanad will on Wednesday debate a bill to give the government's new climate change policies the force of law. The Climate Protection Bill, which gives effect to the commitments in the Programme for Government, will be introduced by three university senators on Wednesday. Friends of the Earth has called the bill "a landmark opportunity" for Ireland to show it means to do its fair share to prevent runaway climate change.

Act for Climate: Email the Senators asking them to support the bill

Welcoming the Bill, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan said:

"This is a chance for the government to show it intends to deliver on its climate change commitments. The Bill simply gives the Government's own policies the force of law. The Programme for Government calls for an all-party approach to climate change. There is no better way to express such an approach than for the Oireachtas to make the Climate Protection Bill law".

The proposed law takes the National Climate Change Strategy as its starting point, making the strategy's target for greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 legally-binding. Beyond 2010 the Bill endorses the Government's commitment to annual reductions in climate pollution of 3% on average. It provides for an annual carbon budget and puts the proposed Climate Change Commission on a statutory footing.

"Giving climate change policy the force of law is emerging as best practice internationally. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already done it in California. There are at least three Bills under discussion in the US Senate. The British Government has recently published its Climate Change Bill. This Seanad Bill is an historic opportunity for Ireland to go from laggard to vanguard in the fight against climate change," Mr Coghlan continued.

The Climate Protection Bill was drafted by Ivana Bacik and published by Friends of the Earth in April as part of its Act for Climate campaign. Senator Bacik will propose the Bill for second reading in the Seanad on Wednesday, with the support of other independent senators. It is understood that Minister for the Environment, John Gormley TD will respond for the Government.

1) The Programme for Government states:
"[T]his Government will implement a comprehensive range of measures as set out in the new National Climate Change Strategy.
In particular, we will:

* Agree an all-party approach on climate change targets.
* In advance of agreeing such targets, the Government will set a target for this administration of a reduction of 3% per year on average in our greenhouse gas emissions.
* Mandate the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government to publish an Annual Report setting out progress on meeting climate change targets.

2) The National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS) lays out a series of measures designed to ensure that Ireland's gross greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 do not exceed 70.33 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 equivalent, compared to emissions of 55.78 Mt in 1990 and 69.95 Mt in 2005. The Climate Protection Bill makes 70.33 Mt the legally binding target for 2010.

3) For analysis of how the NCCS target compares to the Government's new 3% annual reduction commitment and the context of Irish climate policy see "Irish Climate Change Policy - the next steps", the speech delivered by the Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan, at the EPA Environment Ireland conference at the start of September.

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