Climate policy report welcomed
2 Oct 2012
HARRY McGEE, Political Correspondent
A REPORT by a Government research body on implementing climate policy over the next decade had brought a "clear focus" to the challenging targets Ireland faces up to 2020, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said yesterday.
Mr Hogan welcomed Towards a National Climate Change Policy by the secretariat of the National Economic and Social Council as a comprehensive report that spelled out the policy to meet the targets and allow Ireland move to a low-carbon future.
"The Government will now be giving careful consideration to the report," he said.
The report's main recommendation is that improving energy efficiency in the country's building stock be the central focus of Government policy. It finds that the onerous 2020 targets set by the EU for greenhouse gas emissions can be reached but will require swift action and buy-in from government and wider society.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan also welcomed the report, saying that getting the policy right was not just critical for the environment but also for economic recovery and for social progress.
He agreed with the report's reference to a new forum to debate climate change and that the Cabinet subcommittee on climate change was not best suited to the role. He called on the Government to establish such a public forum where Irish farming, business, community and environmental groups could participate in an open and honest debate. "If that works well it could do more than anything else to raise public support for the changes we need to make. It would be easy just to just damn this Government for their lack of action on climate change.
"The abandonment of public transport, the stalling of the building retrofit industry and their misguided form of property tax are all bringing us in the wrong direction. But rather than hurling abuse, the Green Party would prefer to enter such a forum in a positive manner."
Friends of the Earth said it was encouraged by the finding that there are policy options available.
"The central message of this report is that we can achieve our 2020 climate targets but that we're not moving fast enough," said director Oisín Coghlan.
"It will take political leadership and more expert officials across Government to make it happen. The good news is there is potential for significant job creation in retrofitting up to one million buildings to improve their energy efficiency by 2020."