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Confront Climate Emergency with same determination as Covid-19

9 Apr 2020

Campaigners call on parties to confront the climate emergency with the same determination as Covid-19

Efforts to reboot the economy must be consistent with, not contradict, Ireland’s climate obligations

The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition [1], has today (Thursday 9th April) formally written to party leaders emphasizing three key principles which the Coalition believes should underpin the policy framework document currently being finalised by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and the Programme for Government that follows. The campaign group called on the next Government to:

  1. Confront the climate crisis with the same determination as efforts to tackle Covid-19
  2. Put the wellbeing of people and planet at the centre of the economic recovery plan, rather than a return to business-as-usual.
  3. Deliver fairer and faster climate action, including 8% annual reductions in emissions over the lifetime of the Government and passing the new Climate Action Bill within 100 days of the Dáil functioning again.

The letter [2] comes as discussions continued this week to finalise a joint policy framework by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to advance negotiations with other parties on the formation of the new Government. It is understood that the framework document will centre on containing the Covid-19 pandemic and stimulating economic recovery, but will also include measures to address climate change.

In the letter, the Coalition highlighted the utmost importance of implementing emergency measures to contain the virus and to help people in crisis. However, it also stated that it was essential that the crisis be a critical inflection point in Ireland’s response to the climate emergency declared by the last Dáil.

Oisin Coghlan, spokesperson for the coalition commented,

“The Government investment and intervention planned to protect jobs and incomes in the wake of COVID 19 is a once-in-a-generation chance to reset our economy to better serve society. We need a Fair Recovery that puts the wellbeing of people and planet first, not a rebooting of business-as-usual.”

“For over a decade politicians have been saying "business-as-usual is not an option" on climate action, before continuing to promote business-as-usual. If we want to stop climate breakdown we cannot afford to turn business-as-usual back on.”

“We are calling on all political parties to ensure the next Programme for Government demonstrates the same urgency and determination to reduce emissions as currently deployed to contain the transmission of coronavirus.”

The letter states that any stimulus plans that are envisaged in the next Programme for Government must reduce not increase emissions. According to the Coalition, if carefully considered, designed and targeted, the recovery plan could place Ireland on a firmer footing to implementing the Paris Agreement while building a more resilient, sustainable and equal society.

Catherine Devitt, policy coordinator with Stop Climate Chaos added,

“An overheating planet is already putting societies and economies at risk – if we delay any further the transformations required to build sustainable, climate-resilient economies and restored ecosystems, the dramatic, irreversible costs will keep rising.”

“The political debate is already focused on rebooting the economy. We are calling on all parties to ensure that any economic recovery plan currently being developed must speed up the transition to a healthier, fairer, more resilient society and economy. Amid the crisis, this is our chance to build a better future by ensuring that stimulus packages boost economic activity that are consistent with, rather than contradict, our climate action obligations. If we fail to do so, we will knowingly repeat mistakes from the last economic crisis that pushed us further away from achieving our climate commitments.”

In the Letter, the Coalition repeated its call for the next Government to prioritise strengthening the 2015 Climate Act, with a view to a new climate action law being passed by the Dáil within 100 days of the formation of a Government.

Sadhbh O’Neill, policy advisor with the coalition said:

“A stable climate policy governance framework can keep decision makers focused on the urgency of transitioning to a zero carbon future, especially when there is a risk that competing priorities can crowd-out essential climate action. Now more so than ever, we need to see strengthened climate legislation to drive sustained emissions cuts over the long-term.”

“This decade is the critical, decisive decade for our future and the future of the planet. Ireland is already far behind on where it needs to be to contribute our fair share of the global effort to avert climate breakdown. Despite all the plans and promises, we’re still not reducing emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.”

“To be in line with the science and our climate obligations, the incoming Government must deliver emissions reductions that average at least 8% a year over its lifetime. Indeed, as the UN Secretary General pointed out in 2019, that is what global emissions must be reduced by every year from now to 2030; richer countries will have to reduce further and faster.”

The outgoing Government, in the 2019 Climate Action Plan, proposed emissions reductions of only 2% a year over the next decade, which the letter describes as “simply inadequate and unacceptable” and “unsustainable politically as well as environmentally”.

Notes

  1. Stop Climate Chaos is the civil society coalition campaigning for Ireland to do its fair share to tackle climate change. The Coalition’s members include overseas aid and development, environmental, youth and faith-based organisations.
  2. The letter sent to party leaders is available here.

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