Minister's special treatment of business lobby "inappropriate" says NGO
3 Oct 2011
Phil Hogan in "Galway tent" of climate politics
Friends of the Earth has condemned Minister Phil Hogan's decision to participate with four senior officials in a private workshop on climate policy organized by IBEC. The seminar, to be held this Wednesday, comes as the Minister finalises a review of climate policy to be considered by a powerful cabinet committee in a couple of weeks. The minister's department has described that process as "internal" and there has been no element of public consultation during the six-month review. In a letter to business leaders, IBEC Director General Danny McCoy describes the event as "a timely opportunity for our members to influence the development of a climate policy framework ...I am particularly pleased the Minister for the Environment will be joining us".
Commenting, Friends of the Earth Director Oisin Coghlan said
"This looks like the Galway tent of climate politics. If IBEC were hosting a public confernce, fine. If the Government was consulting stakeholders systematically, fine. But this just smacks of vested interests making policy with ministers behind closed doors. It's an anti-democratic return to business-as-usual, from the man behind Fine Gael's 'democratic revolution" election victory. And we know business-as-usual is not going to contain the climate crisis."
IBEC vigorously opposed proposals for climate legislation during the last Dáil. Minister Hogan was a strong advocate of the all-party climate Bill drafted by the Oireachtas climate change committee. That Bill had legally binding emissions targets, 5-year carbon budgets, an independent climate change commission and transferred overall responsibility for climate policy to the Taoiseach. On taking office Minister Hogan said he wanted to have his own Bill passed into law in 2012 but has since gone silent.
Mr Coghlan concluded:
"Now the minister is cosying up to the business lobby just before he asks the Cabinet to make key decisions on climate policy. It's simply inappropriate for the minister and officials from three departments to meet privately with big business in the final days of a policy review that has no element of public consultation"
1.The IBEC invite and workshop agenda was leaked to media outlets and NGOs last Friday. It is now online here.
2.The workshop is private, by invitation only. It not a "stakeholder" workshop as IBEC suggest therefore. The Environmental Pillar asked to be allowed participate and were told no, it's private. The meeting is also subject to Chatham House rules, so nothing said by the minister or the officials can be attributed to them.
3. An EPA official told the Tyndall Conference last week that the Department of Environment-led climate change policy review was complete. It has not yet been published.
4.The Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy is due to hold its second meeting on 19th October.