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Minister Ryan's announcement on climate change law welcome

29 May 2009

Government must now pass a strong law before Copenhagen summit

Friends of the Earth has welcomed the announcement by Minister Eamon Ryan that the Government will introduce a climate change law this year. Speaking to reporters yesterday the Minister said he expected the Irish legislation to build on the model of the UK Climate Change Act. Last year the UK became the first country in the world to put its medium and long term emissions targets into law and establish five-year carbon budgets to make sure the targets are met. The UK law was passed following a three year campaign by Friends of the Earth.

Commenting on the announcement, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisín Coghlan, said:

"Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for climate change legislation for two years so the Minister's announcement is very welcome. The key test now is what is in the Government's draft bill. A strong law can be the cornerstone of a low-carbon recovery and spur investment in green jobs that last beyond the next boom and bust."

The environmental organisation welcomed the Minister's statement that Ireland should follow the model of the UK law and "make it better". Friends of the Earth believes that the key improvements required are:

  • The targets must be in line with the latest science
    The UK targets are at the bottom of the range proposed by the IPCC. The emission cuts required are 40% by 2020 and 95% by 2050.
  • The law should reject offsetting
    The UK Government has said it will implement the first five-year carbon budget domestically, without buying pollution permits overseas. That commitment should be in the Irish law.

Mr Coghlan continued:

"When 190 nations gather in Copenhagen in December, Ireland will be one of only three countries represented by a Green minister. John Gormley has the opportunity to play a leadership role in forging the new global deal if goes to the table having passed a strong climate change law at home."

Minister Ryan's announcement came after the Government blocked opposition moves yesterday to debate the Climate Protection Bill drafted by Senator Ivana Bacik for Friends of the Earth as part of the campaign for a law. Since the campaign was launched in 2007 almost 50,000 supporters of Friends of the Earth and the Stop Climate Chaos coalition have taken action by signing petitions and contacting TDs and Senators.

The key provisions of the UK law are:

  • An independent climate change commission to advise the Government on targets and measures.
  • Emissions reductions of 26% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.
  • Legally-binding five-year "carbon budgets" to deliver the required cuts.
  • Joint responsibility between the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for delivering the cuts and reporting to parliament.
  • Annual milestones to make sure emissions go down year-by-year.
  • A commitment to include aviation and shipping emissions in the calculation of the carbon budgets.

More information on the UK law is here.

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