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World's first Climate law should spur debate in the Oireachtas

29 Oct 2008

donatenow_savethebear Friends of the Earth Ireland has hailed the passing of the world's first Climate Change Law. The overwhelming vote in the British House of Commons yesterday will see the UK become the first country to set legally binding emissions targets and put in place a credible system for managing the shift to a low-carbon society. The environmental charity is calling on the Government here to keep its promise of further debate of a Climate Change Bill introduced in Seanad last year by independent Senator, Ivana Bacik.

Friends of the Earth Ireland Director, Oisin Coghlan, said

"The UK climate law is good for business, good for democracy and good for the planet. The law is a landmark in the struggle to prevent runaway climate change. Our own government has promised to reduce emissions by 3% a year but without a legal framework like this it simply won't happen. They should now re-start the debate on the climate bill Senator Bacik introduced in the Seanad a year ago."

The new law sets a legally-binding target for the UK to reduce its emissions by 80% by 2050. In a survey of FTSE 100 and 250 companies 57% said they thought it would give UK business and investors the confidence they need to invest in low-carbon technologies. 50% said it would give them a competitive advantage by moving Britain to being a low-carbon economy.

"The law is a major victory for people power following a three and a half year campaign led by Friends of the Earth in Britain. More than 200,000 people emailed, wrote to or visited their MP to support and improve the law. As a result the law is not just a world first but also world class. It will quickly become the benchmark for governments who want to demonstrate they are serious about tackling climate change," Mr Coghlan continued.

Friends of the Earth's campaign for legally binding emissions targets continues across 16 other European countries, including Ireland. A majority of TDs have expressed support for such a law by signing the Stop Climate Chaos Call to Action. Minister Gormley and Senator Boyle promised Government time for further discussion of the Climate Change Bill introduced in the Seanad a year ago by Ivana Bacik, but has so far failed to provide that time.

"The patchy and piecemeal nature of the Government's climate change policies proves that only a law will deliver the sea-change we need across all Departments to trigger and support the shift to a low-carbon economy and society in Ireland," Mr Coghlan concluded.

 

Notes

1. The UK law - which will come into force in November - commits the British government to:

* reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050;
* set 5 year 'carbon budgets' which will put a limit on the quantity of emissions allowed by the UK within that period. In setting the carbon budgets the UK has to take the advice of a newly established Committee on Climate Change which includes scientific, environmental and economic expertise;
* set annual targets in the form of annual ranges (i.e. x plus or minus) in meeting the 5 year carbon budgets;
* produce an action plan, to be reviewed by the Committee on Climate Change, and report annually to Parliament.

2. A Climate Change Bill was introduced in Seanad Eireann by independent senator Ivana Bacik last year. The second reading debate on 3rd October was adjourned without a vote on the promise of Government time to resume the debate and allow a fuller discussion. That time has yet to be provided.

Senator Dan Boyle: The issue should be debated on Committee Stage. However, this is an important Bill and it should be debated in the context of future international gatherings. I hope my proposal to resume Second Stage during Government time at a future date is taken on board.

Minister John Gormley: My colleague, Senator Boyle, has indicated that he would like to see this legislation back before the House on 20 December after the Bali talks.

Senator Bacik: Senator Boyle and the Minister supported the idea that Second Stage be adjourned tonight without a vote. I believe the Minister mentioned 20 December, for which I am grateful ... On the basis of the promise by the Minister and Senator Boyle, I move that the Second Stage debate be adjourned and resumed in December.

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