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Government in denial as climate talks reach critical stage

1 Dec 2008

Ireland foot-dragging in Brussels as UN talks open in Poland

As a new round of UN talks on climate change open today in Poznan, Poland, Friends of the Earth has accused the Government of being in denial about Ireland's responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental charity says Ireland is dragging its feet in EU negotiations that will help determine whether a global deal to contain climate change can be agreed in time.

Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan, said

"10 years ago ministers in this Government signed up to to our Kyoto target, then completely failed to stick to it. So this time around the plan seems to be 'commit to as little as possible'. Either the Government is in denial about the threat climate change poses or indifferent to the fate of those who will be worst affected"

The Government's key positions indicate they are trying to dodge Ireland's responsibility and are indifferent to the global consequences:

  • The EU wants to offer to cut emissions by 30% by 2020 in the UN talks, but in internal EU negotiations Ireland is refusing to commit to cuts of more than 20% even if there is a new global deal.
  • The European Parliament wants 50% of the revenues from selling emissions permits to industry to be earmarked for helping developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce their own emissions. Ireland is absolutely opposed to this.
  • A year ago the Government promised a further Oireachtas debate on a climate change bill that would put our emissions targets into law. Now it's refusing to schedule that debate.

Oisin Coghlan commented:

"So much for our reputation as a champion of the developing world. The poorest people on the planet are being hit first and worst by climate change. Yet Ireland is refusing to do its fair share to stop it running out of control and refusing to support efforts to help developing countries cope with the consequences"

"There's nothing special about our cars, there's nothing sacred about our cows. We have to face up to the responsibility of cutting our pollution which is now 25% higher than it was in 1990. The Government appears to be adopting a position of 'Irish exceptionalism' which is simply unsustainable, environmentally and morally".

Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, heads to Brussels for three days of EU negotiations on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, before heading to Poland for the UN talks next week. Taoiseach Brian Cowen will be involved in efforts to finalise the EU negotiations at the EU Summit on 11 and 12 December.

Friends of the Earth Policy Officer, Molly Walsh, arrives in Poznan today, Monday, having travelled from Dublin by boat, train and bus to avoid the greenhouse gas emissions associated with flying. Attending the UN talks as and NGO observer on the official Irish delegation, she will be blogging at from Tuesday.

Read "Obama buzz at climate talks".

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