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New Taoiseach should delay Government's climate change plan

14 Jun 2017

Varadkar signed petition calling for 'fair payment for solar electricity'

USI, Dóchas, the Environmental Pillar and Stop Climate Chaos issue joint letter

Friends of the Earth has called on the new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to delay the Government's climate action plan unless it will deliver steep and rapid cuts in Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions. The draft plan, which Minister Naughten had to submit to Government by last Saturday under the 2015 climate law, will be one of the first things across the new Taoiseach's desk. Four national umbrella organizations - the Environmental Pillar, Dóchas: the association of overseas development agencies, the Union of Students in Ireland, and the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition - have written to Leo Varadkar urging him not to approve the plan unless it is adequate to the challenge of the Paris Agreement. The Government has the power to modify the 5-year plan before it adopts it. Irish greenhouse gas emissions need to drop by 5% a year, every year, to put the country on the path to meeting the Government's own national transition objective. However, Irish emissions have actually been rising in recent years.

Commenting, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisín Coghlan, said:

"I think Leo gets climate change, in same way other leaders of his generation do. But so far Ireland's climate action is closer to Trump than Trudeau.

"This new climate plan is the first test of whether the generational shift at the top of Irish politics actually signals a step-change in Irish climate action. The draft plan put out for consultation earlier this year was hopeless. Over 3,500 people made a submission asking for a new plan to make us proud.

"If Minister Naughten's climate plan won't deliver rapid and steep cuts in pollution then the new Taoiseach should use the Government's powers under the Climate Act to send ministers and officials back to the drawing board.

"We know Leo sees himself in the same mould as Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau, who both position themselves as progressive on climate action. Leo actually signed a Friends of the Earth petition last year calling for a fair payment for solar electricity. Right now you have to give it away for free to the ESB.

"So now that Leo's Taoiseach, we expect to see a price for community-led solar in the new renewable energy support scheme to be published shortly. That would allow communities around the country to turn their local schools, community halls ans sports clubs into community owned power plants.

"Support for community-led solar energy would be a real sign that Leo Varadkar's government is forward-looking and climate-savy".

The joint letter from the Environmental Pillar, Dóchas: the association of overseas development organizations, the Union of Students in Ireland, and the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition is online here: http://bit.ly/LeoClima1

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