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The passing of the Climate Bill by the Dáil is a significant milestone, but a concrete plan to actually reduce emissions is long overdue

8 Oct 2015

Vuvuzela Protest 24th November 2011

Friends of the Earth has welcomed the fact that the Dáil will today pass the Climate Bill, calling it a significant milestone in climate policy-making. But according to the environmental campaigning organisation Ireland is not on track to meet its 2020 EU targets and the current Government has repeatedly delayed adopting an actual emissions reduction plan, 3 years after the last climate action plan expired. Friends of the Earth began the campaign for a climate law in April 2007 and over the intervening years a consensus was forged among all political parties that putting climate policy-making on a statutory footing made sense.

Commenting, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisín Coghlan said

"The passing of the Climate Bill is a significant milestone. It hard-wires transparency, expert advice and parliamentary accountability into climate policy making. And we know from experience that without a legal mandate these things don't happen.
"The Bill is weaker than it should be, but has significantly improved thanks to engagement by TDs from all sides during the legislative process. And we hope all parties and all TDs will now vote for its adoption."

The biggest gap in the long promised legislation is the absence of an explicit 2050 target for reducing emissions, something opposed by IBEC and the IFA. The UK law has an 80% reduction target as did the Bill prepared by the last Government in 2010. Today's Climate Action Bill does at least refer to the Government's national policy objective of 80% reductions in emissions from electricity, transport and buildings and carbon neutrality in agriculture.
Meanwhile we are off track on meeting our 2020 EU target and this Government will go through its entire term without adopting a national action plan to reduce emissions, the last one expired at the end of 2012.

Oisín Coghlan continued

"At the very least the next Government will be legally required to produce a 5-year action plan to reduce emissions, based on expert advice from the new Climate Advisory Council, which will also produce annual monitoring reports, and four ministers will be required to make annual statements to the Dáil on progress.
"The passing of the Bill is at best 'the end of the beginning' of Ireland's transition to a low-carbon future. Attention now turns to Minister Alex White's Energy White Paper, due in the next few weeks.
"We need to see the White Paper set out a compelling vision of a fossil-free Ireland by 2050, mandate 20% local ownership of renewable energy projects, and introduce a fair price for solar electricity to unleash a rooftop revolution of household and community-owned renewables. We have to enable Irish communities - GAA clubs, Parish groups and Green Schools - take ownership of the energy transition we need."

Notes
1. The Dáil schedule for Thursday is online here. The best estimate is that the Climate Bill will be reached at about 1pm.
2. The Oireachtas page on the Bill is here. After it passes the Dáil it goes to the Seanad, where the debate is scheduled for next Wednesday.
3. Friends of the Earth campaigns as part of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, whose latest press release on the Bill is here.

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