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What the Taoiseach should tell the UN Climate Action Summit today

23 Sep 2019

"Six simple steps for Leo, one giant leap for Irish climate leadership"

Friends of the Earth has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to make six significant new pledges when he addresses the UN Climate Action Summit later today (Monday) in New York. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, had a clear message for world leaders before the summit: "Don’t come with a speech. Come with a plan." Unfortunatey, the Government's new Climate Action Plan does not yet amount to Ireland's fair share to achieve the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, according to Friends of the Earth's Director, Oisín Coghlan.

Mr Coghlan commented:

"The last time the Taoiseach addressed an international political assembly on climate change he admitted Ireland was a laggard. His Government has taken some steps to change that, but they don't go far enough, or fast enough. Today, Leo can take a giant leap towards climate leadership if he announces the following six simple steps:

  1. That Ireland will support a European Commission proposal to increase the EU's 2030 target to at least -55% compared to 1990. The current target is -40%.

  2. That his Government will legislate for a national 2050 target of net-zero emissions, before the General Election [1].

  3. That he will introduce moratorium of all new licences to explore for fossil fuels in Irish waters until after the General Election, to allow the Climate Change Advisory Council to respond to the Government's request for advice on the future of oil and gas exploration [2].

  4. That Ireland will not import Liquefied Fossil Gas (LNG) from fracking. Having banned fracking in Ireland to protect our communities, it would be absurdly hypocritical to import fracked gas from under the feet of communities in the US. And that therefore the Government should not sign off on including LNG terminals in the EU's list of projects of common interest.

  5. That he will immediately set up a Just Transition Taskforce, with an independent chair, with the mandate and resources from Government to negotiate a deal between peat workers, their trade unions and the ESB and Bord na Móna, community representatives and environmentalists for an "orderly exit" from fossil fuel extraction in the midlands [3].

  6. That by 2025 every school in Ireland will be a Solar School, with solar panels generating some of the electricity the school needs and selling any surplus to the national grid. To achieve this schools will immeditately be added to the list of buildings exempt from planning permission for solar panels, and schools, community and farm buildings will now be eligible for SEAI grants under an expanded version of their household solar PV scheme.

ENDS

Notes

[1] The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition has just produced a detailed briefing on the context and priorities for Irish climate policy:
https://www.stopclimatechaos.ie/assets/files/pdf/briefing_for_tds_on_climate_action_-_september_2019.pdf

[2] The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition wrote to the Climate change Advisory Council last week on the evidence they should consider before advising the Government on future policy approaches to oil and gas exploration in Irish waters.
https://www.stopclimatechaos.ie/assets/files/pdf/letter_to_the_climate_council_on_the_topic_of_policy_approaches_to_offshore_exploration_2019.pdf

[3] A new alliance of trade unions and climate campaigners issued a Joint Declaration on Just Transition last Thursday:
https://www.ictu.ie/press/2019/09/19/trade-unions-and-climate-campaigners-call-for-imme/

[3] When asked recently to fill the keynote speaker slot at an energy conference, when Minister Bruton couldn't attend at the last minute, Oisín delivered the speech he would like to hear An Taoiseach give in New York today:
https://soundcloud.com/oisincoghlan/the-speech-leo-varadkar-should-give-at-the-un-climate-summit-on-23-september

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