Friends of the Earth in lobby push on climate policy
22 Jul 2008
Climate change has slipped a little on the news agenda this year as other symptons of our unsustainable economic system emerge, such as rising fuel and food prices. Thankfully, however, climate change has become firmly estbalished on the political agenda. If 2007 in Ireland was the year of rising public awareness of the threat that climate change poses, then 2008 is turning into the year of the search for workable policy solutions. As Friends of the Earth has been to the fore in highlighting the challenge, we are now being asked how Ireland should respond. On July 9th Friends of the Earth Director, Oisín Coghlan, attended a special forum chaired by Taoiseach Brian Cowen.
Attended by the seven ministers on the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security it was convened to hear input from representatatives of business, trade unions, state agencies and civil society. While Friends of the Earth was the only environmental NGO invited it was at least one seat at the table for a voice from the environmental sustainability perspective. In his contribution to the discussion Oisín emphasised the urgency of putting a clear, fair price on carbon across the whole economy. He also stressed the need to use the review of capital projects to prioritize those that would help to reduce our carbon footprint and drop those that would increase it and, of course, the imperative of underpining our climate policy with legislation to make sure Ireland does its fair share.
On 16th July Friends of the Earth was part of an Irish Environmental Network delegation which addressed the Oireachtas Climate Change and Energy Security committee. The delegation and the committee discussed new EU climate change policy proposals and what they will mean for Ireland. You can download a copy of the Friends of the Earth presentation and read the full account of the discussion.
On 17th July Oisin met with members of the Commission on Taxation to discuss proposals for a carbon tax. Friends of the Earth supports the idea of introducing a carbon tax that rewards those that reduce their pollution and penalises those who pollute profligately. In all likelihood the tax will be introduced as the same level as the price of carbon in the EU's emissions trading scheme for companies. However, Friends of the Earth is clear that at that rate, a tax will be nothing like enough to achieve the emisisons reductions we need. A whole portfolio of policy measures will be needed, chief among them a Cap and Share scheme for transport.