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Vested interests must not be allowed to kill the climate Bill

21 Jan 2011

Climate law can be a cornerstone of a sustainable, low-carbon recovery

Friends of the Earth has accused vested interests of a "cynical campaign of misinformation" to stall the Government's climate change Bill. The environmental organisation says that IBEC and the IFA are repeatedly misleading politicians and the public when they claim that the targets in the proposed law are stricter than Ireland's obligations under EU agreements. Friends of the Earth has launched an online facility to make it easy for people to take part in the Government's public consultation on the Bill which runs until next Friday, 28th January.

Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan, commented:

"The debate on the climate Bill is in danger of becoming an audition to find the Seanie Fitzpatrick of the carbon bubble."

"We know that business-as-usual and light touch regulation do not work in Ireland. The climate change Bill is the equivalent of the banking regulation we should have had five or 10 years ago. It will prevent the next bubble, one driven by a belief that pollution can rise forever without leading to a crash.

"A strong climate law is key to sustainable jobs and prosperity for the 21st century. There could be no clearer signal to investors that Ireland is intent on becoming an attractive location for green enterprise and innovation."

"During the boom politicians were in thrall to bankers and developers. Surely we have learnt that Government must not put the short-sighted demands of vested interests above the long-term public interest. That way lies ruin. And yet this week we saw politicians once again falling into the trap of repeating the mistaken claims they were being fed about the climate Bill."

IBEC and the IFA have raised a number of concerns about the Bill which Friends of the Earth contests:

* The targets in the Bill are not more demanding than Ireland's obligations under EU agreements. Friends of the Earth is publishing a detailed comparison of the targets which finds that the 2020 target in the Bill simply requires the same reduction in Irish emissions as is expected under the EU 2020 package.

* As the 2020 targets are the same as Ireland's EU target the climate law will not impose additional costs on Irish business. In fact the law will save taxpayers money. By ensuring timely action to reduce emissions the taxpayers will not face a sudden bill in 2019 and 2020 to buy pollution offset permits overseas. Before the devastating recession cut Irish emissions taxpayers were facing a €600 million bill to buy permits to cover out Kyoto target overshoot.

* The legislation and the consultation are not being rushed. The plan for a climate Bill was announced in July 2009. The Government produced a detailed Framework Document for the legislation in December 2009. IBEC, the IFA and Friends of the Earth all met officials in 2010 to discuss the proposed law. And detailed negotiations went on all year between the relevant Government Departments to arrive at the current Bill which is best described as a workable compromise.

Friends of the Earth has now launched an online form on its website to enable people to make submissions to the Government's public consultation on the Bill, which runs until next Friday 28th January.

"So far the media debate on the Bill has been dominated by large vested interetsts such as the IFA and IBEC. The consultation is a key opportunity for a wider range of public opinion to make its views know," Mr Coghlan concluded.

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