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Deeply Disappointing that Climate Bill Ignores Oireachtas Committee Recommendations

19 Jan 2015

Absurd that Bill delays climate action for two more years

Stop Climate Chaos has welcomed the publication of the long-awaited Climate Action Bill but described as "deeply disappointing" the Government's rejection of proposals by an Oireachtas committee to strengthen the Bill. According to the coalition of environment, overseas aid, youth and faith groups, three key recommendations of the Oireachtas environment committee, which held comprehensive hearings on the draft Bill and produced an all-party report, have been ignored.
Commenting, Stop Climate Chaos spokesperson, Oisin Coghlan, said:

"It's deeply disappointing that the Government is ignoring the proposals of the all-party Oireachtas Committee.
"This legislation is urgent, Ireland's emissions are already off-track and we are two years without a climate action plan. It's now up to TDs and Senators to fix this Bill and pass it into law as quickly as possible."


The Bill does not include the Government's own definition of low carbon, it doesn't guarantee the independence of the Climate Advisory Council, and it doesn't include the principle of climate justice - all recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee, chaired by Labour TD, Michael McCarthy.
David Healy, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator with Oxfam Ireland, commented:

"The Government hasn't even included a line in the Bill to say the Climate Advisory Council will be 'independent in the performance of it's functions', the formulation used for the Fiscal Advisory Council. If guaranteed independence is good enough for advice on the fiscal budget why not for climate policy?"


The Government has also ignored the Committee's proposal to include climate justice in the Bill.
Niamh Garvey, Environmental Justice Policy Officer with Trócaire, commented:

"The Government has voiced support for the principle of climate justice at the UN and co-hosted a conference on the issue with Mary Robinson as part of Ireland’s EU presidency. Was that just lip service? Why is climate justice left out of the Bill?"


Stop Climate Chaos has been calling for "the principle of climate justice" to be one of the things that Ministers must have regard to when designing the national mitigation plan (section 3.2 of the Bill).
The only substantive change from the draft Bill produced by Phil Hogan a year ago is a negative one. The Government has delayed the adoption of a national mitigation plan with sectoral policy measures by at least another two years. Ireland's last emissions reduction plan expired at the end of 2012 just before our challenging 2020 EU targets came into force. The Government promised a new plan by early 2014. Then, last April Phil, Hogan's draft Bill mandated there be an action plan within 12 months of the climate law coming into force. Now, Minister Kelly's Bill gives the Government two years from the enactment to come up with actual measures to reduce emissions.
Oisin Coghlan concluded:

"It's absurd that the first consequence of the Climate Action Bill would be to delay climate action. It seems the Government wants to long-finger sectoral emissions reduction measures until after the next election. Our EU targets run from 2013-2020 and the Government is saying Ireland will adopt it's action plan to meet them sometime in 2017!"


The Bill now goes to the Oireachtas for debate, scrutiny, amendment and approval. As the Government has ignored the recommendations of the all-party Oireachtas environment committee, Stop Climate Chaos will be calling on TDs and Senators to fix the Bill and pass it into law as quickly as possible.

Notes

  1. The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/ClimateBill2015

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