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Press Release: Today's action plan a test for Leo's 'new ambition on climate change'

19 Jul 2017

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Action Plan a test for Leo's "new ambition on climate change"
Cabinet to discuss climate change on Wednesday as National Mitigation Plan is published

Friends of the Earth has said that tomorrow's publication of the first action plan on climate pollution for 10 years is a real test for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's promise of "a new ambition on climate change". The National Mitigation Plan will be published at midday on Wednesday, with Ministers also due to discuss climate change tomorrow at the first "strategic cabinet meeting", as promised by the new Taoiseach.

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

"Leo made a bold pronouncement on his election as Taosieach that he wanted his Government to have 'a new ambition of climate change'. Wednesday's action plan on climate pollution is the first big test of that promise.

"You get the sense that Leo gets climate change. I think Minister Naughten's desire for real action was somewhat frustrated by the dead hand of Kenny and Noonan. Now there's a been a big generational shift, with Varadkar, Donohoe, Coveney and Naughten all mid-forties and younger.

"Now this new generation of leaders has to deliver. To meet the Government's own climate pollution target the action plan has to deliver a 5% cut in Ireland's non-agricultural emissions every year from now to 2050. And it has to show how every tonne of pollution of from agriculture will be offset by new treecover and restored peatlands.

"Both the EPA and the Climate Council have called for a 'transformation' and the action plan has to lay out the new policies and measures that are going to deliver big cuts in pollution from transport and electricity, homes and offices."

Key things to look out for

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition has set out 5 tests for the new action plan ( briefing here ).

5 Tests for Ireland’s climate action plan

  1. Does the new plan add up to doing our fair share?
  2. Does it start the phase out of fossil fuels?
  3. Does it ramp up renewable energy and kick-start community ownership?
  4. Does it put agriculture on a path to carbon neutrality?
  5. Does it realign transport investment to reduce emissions?

There is more detail on each test here: http://bit.ly/SCC_5tests

In response to the public consultation on the draft plan, the Stop Climate Chaos coalition branded it a "moral and legal failure" (press release here) , and published 21 recommendations to fix it (submission here) .

Context notes

  • This is Ireland's fourth action plan on climate pollution. The new plan is a successor to the National Climate Change Strategies of April 2007 and October 2000 , and the CO2 Abatement Strategy of June1993 . Each one had a target to limit or reduce emissions compared to 1990.
  • But according to latest figures from the EPA, Ireland’s current emissions are 6.6% above 1990 levels, and emissions increased by 3.7% in 2015. Ireland, with the 8 th highest emissions per person in the OECD, is one of only two countries in the EU which will overshoot its 2020 targets for emissions reductions.
  • The plan is 5 years late, the last one expired at the end of 2012.
  • Our climate targets require a 20% cut in emissions by 2020, a 30% cut by 2030 and an 80% but by 2050.
  • To meet the Government's own national objective for 2050:
    • combined emissions from everything bar agriculture have to decrease by 5% a year, every year from now to 2050.
    • emissions from agriculture will have to be at least halved from now to 2050
  • Our total carbon budget for the period 2016-2050 will be used up by 2030 if emissions continue on their current path.
  • Ireland faces financial penalties if we fail to cut emissions of:
    • up to €600 million by 2020 (22% of projected net fiscal space in 2020)
    • between €3bn and €6bn by 2030 (during the Troika years current expenditure fell by €4.6bn)

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