CORRECTION: There is no climate action plan. Last one was NINE years ago.
1 Apr 2016
There is no FF - FG deal on climate action
The last national climate change strategy was launched 9 years ago tomorrow
It is with genuine regret that Friends of the Earth must report that our press release this morning to the effect that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had agreed an ambitious climate action plan was mistaken. There is no plan. In fact, the last national climate action plan was published by Minister Dick Roche, NINE years ago tomorrow (that should be the April Fool's joke but it's not).
At the end of Dick Roche's press release nine years ago it said "The Government will publish another climate change strategy for the period to 2020 when Ireland's post-2012 commitments are known." Our post-2012 commitments were know in 2008 and yet here we are eight years on and there is still no new action plan. The last one expired at the end of 2012. Our 2020 targets kicked in on 1 January 2013, the EPA is projecting we'll likely overshoot our 2020 target this year but the Government has given itself to the middle of next year to come up with an action plan.
Commenting, Oisín Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth, said:
"The real joke is that Ireland isn't planning to have a plan on how to meet our 2020 emissions targets until after we miss them.
"The sad thing is the measures we included in our April Fool's climate action plan are not that radical, they're very practical, they would save the taxpayers' money being wasted on fines for missing out targets, and people would get clean energy and warmer homes.
"And yet there is no sign of anything like this emerging from the talks on the formation on a new Government. There is still time to fix that and we would call on all parties to build on the high level of support for the Climate Bill in 2015 to agree a positive and practical plan to grasp the opportunities of the transition to to zero carbon future.
"The quotes from 'the source' in our press release this morning are worth re-reading as they all remain true".
---------- Initial April Fool's press release below ----------
Friends of the Earth
1 April 2016
Fianna Fail - Fine Gael climate action plan an historic turning point
Backroom deal for a solar revolution, a ban on fracking, closing the peat plants and an SSIA scheme for retro-fitting
Friends of the Earth has welcomed the news that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have agreed an ambitious plan to cut Ireland's carbon emissions. The 5-year climate action plan is being seen as a vital plank of any deal on the formation of a new government.
A source close to the backroom talks that drafted the plan was quoted as saying:
"We all know that climate change is one of the biggest challenges the next Government will face. The Paris Agreement has really uped the ante for countries to be seen to be making an effort to cut their emissions. With the US and China now leading the way the excuses for other countries are now falling away. One of the first overseas engagements of the next Taoiseach will be to sign the Paris Agreementwith 120 other world leaders in New York on 22nd April. And right after that the serious negotiations begin with the EU about our 2030 target to be agreed this summer. We decided we'd better have a plan, and best to do it now when everything is on the table"
It is understood that the plan centres on two eye-catching initiatives: A "rooftop revolution" in solar electricity and an SSIA-type scheme for investing in warmer homes. According to the plan, within a 100 days the new Government would introduce a guaranteed payment for solar electricity and a special savings scheme which the state would top up with 1 euro for every 4 euro deposited by the saver. The money could be spent on the deposit for a new home by first time buyers or by anybody for retrofitting an existing home to save energy.The source continued:
"We need to reset the debate on renewables and not just be talking about wind all the time. The cost of solar energy is plummeting thanks to the Germans and the Chinese and it offers a real chance to get everyone involved in the energy transition. If we set a fair price for solar electricity then you could see GAA clubs, schools, parish halls all becoming community-owned power plants and bringing a steady revenue stream to rural communities in particular.
The plan also confirms that the burning of peat for electricity will end in 2019 and proposes an inter-agency task-force, including the IDA and Enterprise ireland, be set up now to look at job creation in the affected areas. Money currently used to subsidize peat-burning will be diverted into supporting development in the midlands. The new Government will also impose an indefinite moratorium on fracking, the controversial drilling technique to extract unconventional shale gas.There are no radical measures concerning agricultural emissions, although more resources are promised for Teagasc's research and farm support work.The source added:
"We still need to do a deal with the EU to be allowed to offset our agricultural emissions as there's no easy way to reduce them in the short term. But we've concluded that we stand the best chance of getting that deal if we are seen to be doing everything we can in other areas to grasp the opportunities to reduce emissions. Ireland has developed the reputation as a bit of a whinger on climate policy inside the EU over the last 5 years and it isn't actually doing our cause any good."