you are here : home » news »

What climate campaigners will be looking for in the Fianna Fáil - Fine Gael joint policy document

11 Apr 2020

Climate campaigners will be examining the joint policy framework for government Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are sharing with smaller parties with an eye on three big questions and six specific policy areas.

Friends of the Earth will be looking for answers on three overarching questions about the parties' approach to climate change:

1. Do the parties "Unite Behind the Science", and commit to 8% a-year emissions reductions?
2. Will the economic recovery plans reduce emissions
or return to business, and pollution, as usual?
3. Is there a new commitment to social dialogue to ensure climate policy has public support?

1. Do the parties "Unite Behind the Science", and commit to 8% a-year emissions reductions?

Greta Thunberg's mantra has never been more apposite. If we are learning anything from the response to COVID 19, it is that when political leaders unite behind the science, follow-expert advice, act in a timely and decisive manner, communicate effectively with the public, and do whatever is necessary to protect those impacted especially the most vulnerable, that society responds amazingly, despite short-term inconvenience and disruption, and we can save lives and stave-off catastrophe.

We need the same leadership and determination to contain climate-changing emissions as we are seeing to contain coronavirus transmission. It is over 20 years since Ireland pledged to bend the curve of our emissions trajectory but instead it is still rising. As a result, we need much more drastic action now to avoid our economic and social systems being overwhelmed by climate breakdown.

The latest climate science from the UN indicates we need to reduce global emissions by 7.6% a year from now to 2030. As a rich country Ireland should, in fairness, do more, which is why before the election climate campaigners called for the incoming government to reduce emissions by at least 8% a year over the lifetime of the 33rd Dáil. 43 TDs signed the One Future pledge to that effect, including the leaders of Sinn Fein, the Green Party, Labour, the Social Democrats, and Solidarity-People Before Profit. The leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael did not however, and their manifestos did not commit to cutting emissions faster than the entirely inadequate 2% a year in the 2019 Climate Action Plan.

2. Will the economic recovery plans reduce emissions or return to business, and pollution, 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 turn business-as-usual back on when we ease the COVID 19 shutdown.

We need a Fair Recovery that puts the wellbeing of people and planet first, not a rebooting of business-as-usual. 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 reimagine our economy to better serve society.

At the very least parties talking about forming a Government must commit to ensuring their economic plans reduce emissions over the lifetime of the Government not ramp them up recklessly again.

3. Is there a new commitment to social dialogue to ensure climate policy has public support?

While NESC and the National Economic Dialogue (NED) have been useful stakeholder forums, it is essential that the principles of social dialogue and public participation are more effectively applied to climate policy than they have been to date.

We know that many social partners, including IBEC and ICTU not just the Environmental Pillar, are of the opinion that a more structured, ongoing, social dialogue is now required, perhaps combining the best elements of the Stakeholder Forum on Brexit, the NED and NESC. As members of the Environmental Pillar, Friends of the Earth looks forward to engaging constructively in any initiative in this regard.

These three issues were raised in a letter to party leaders on Thursday from the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition. That letter is online here.

Stop Climate Chaos has also produced a media briefing on Six questions the next Government will have to answer on climate and energy, whoever is in Government and whatever the level of their existing commitment to action. Download it here.

The six questions, mostly driven by existing national, EU and UN commitments and policy processes, are as follows:

  1. How quickly will the Government pass the new Climate Action Bill?
  2. Will the energy security review be independent and evidence based?
  3. Will the new Government sit down with the trade unions immediately, to negotiate a Just Transition from coal and peat?
  4. Will the new Government remove the barriers to citizen and community ownership of renewable energy?
  5. What emissions reduction target will the new Government set for the agricultural sector?
  6. Will Ireland be a drag or a driver of EU climate policy?

Download the full briefing here:
https://www.stopclimatechaos.ie/assets/files/pdf/six_questions_the_next_government_will_have_to_answer_on_climate_and_energybriefing.pdf

Digital Revolutionaries