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Gilmore moves first stage of major climate bill

5 Feb 2009

The Leader of the Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore TD today in the Dail moved the First Stage on a major Labour Party, Private Members Bill, the Climate Change Bill 2009

This is a major Bill, running to 36 Sections. The purpose of the Bill is to set up a framework for the State to achieve its long-term goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure steps are taken towards adapting to the impact of climate change.

The Labour Party Bill sets a national objective of 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050, along with an interim target of 30% by 2020, with a transparent compliance system and regular reporting. The targets are in line with what the science demands if we are to avert catastrophic climate change.

Up to now there has been no legislative mechanism by which to achieve or monitor our climate change targets. This Bill makes the Taoiseach accountable for these targets. The Taoiseach will set the carbon budget and targets, report to the Oireachtas and outline the proposals and policies for meeting them.

Under the Bill the Taoiseach, working with the Environment Protection Agency, will be responsible for setting a carbon budget for each five year budgetary period which he must present to the Oireachtas. Annual update reports on emissions and total amount of carbon units that have been credited or debited will also be published by the Taoiseach.

The Environmental Protection Agency will assist and advise the Taoiseach in gathering data on emissions and must also publish annual reports outlining the progress of meeting carbon budgets and targets. The EPA will also be required to liaise with the All Party Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change.

Speaking after moving the First Stage, Deputy Gilmore said:

"It is widely accepted that urgent action is required to address the causes and consequences of climate change. The 2006 Stern Review set out the economic case for action on climate change, and concluded that the cost of inaction will be far higher than tackling climate change now. It also made it clear that the costs are lowest in the context of multilateral action. The aim of the Labour Party Bill is to ensure that appropriate action, led by the Taoiseach, is taken to deal with this problem.

"Tackling Climate Change is the biggest challenge of our age. Ireland has made commitments internationally which we have not lived up to, as the record shows. The Kyoto Protocol commits Ireland to remaining 13% above 1990 levels. Recent figures show we are currently 25.5% above 1990 levels.

"Good intentions are simply not enough. What we require is a robust framework which will translate aspirations into action. It needs to be driven from the very top in a coordinated integrated fashion and it needs to be grounded in legislation. That's what our Climate Change bill is all about.

"It's about taking our responsibility seriously but it's also about opening up opportunities for innovation and job creation in new technologies that can harness nature's resources in order to safeguard the future of our world.

"We can not op-out of dealing with climate change. We have been living in the carbon equivalent of a property bubble. Ireland is the fifth highest emitter per capita of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) in the world and the second highest in the EU. Each citizen here is responsible for emitting 17 tonnes of GHG equivalent per annum, up from 15 tonnes in 1990.

"Politically, everyone is signed up the need to address Climate Change. There is now a broad scientific consensus that we need to prevent temperatures from rising by more than 2°C above their pre-industrial level. International experts, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Stern report have called on reductions in carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. This bill puts in place a framework and mechanism for reaching that target.

"On an international level, it is the poorest countries who contributed least to the problem of climate change who are now bearing the brunt of the impact. In this Bill, we have addressed the international social justice aspects of climate change by including a provision to implement greenhouse reduction projects in developing countries. Here in Ireland, the poorest and those already suffering from fuel poverty must be protected and this is also taken into account in this Bill."

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