Climate Bill Amendments by Mattie McGrath & others would turn Ireland from Climate Laggard to Laughing Stock
2 Jun 2021
Climate Campaigners call for Climate Bill’s definition of Climate Justice to be improved or deleted
The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition's "traffic light" assessment of the proposed amendments is online here.
As the Climate Bill moves to Committee Stage this Thursday where detailed amendments will be considered and voted on, Friends of the Earth has expressed its dismay at the Bill’s current definition of climate justice and has warned that the Bill would be gutted if certain amendments being proposed by TDs opposed to adequate climate action are accepted.
The Dáil Select Committee on Environment and Climate Action will commence its committee stage consideration of the Climate Action Bill tomorrow, 3rd June and will meet for 28 hours over this week and next week. Climate campaigners are urging the Government to accept amendments that will improve the Bill’s weak definition of the term “climate justice”.
Commenting, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisín Coghlan, said:
“The Bill’s current definition of climate justice is deeply disappointing. It amounts to co-option of the term and betrays the climate justice movement and all who care about a justice based approach to climate action. It would be better to have no definition of climate justice than to use this weak, misleading definition that will encourage greenwashing, not justice or climate action.”
A range of amendments to improve the Climate Bill’s definition of climate justice have been proposed by opposition TDs.
Commenting on this, Sadhbh O’Neill, Policy Coordinator of Stop Climate Chaos said:
“We’re encouraged to see strong amendments proposed by People Before Profit, the Social Democrats, the Labour Party, Thomas Pringle and Joan Collins that would improve the Climate Bill’s definition of Climate Justice.
These amendments connect the definition of climate justice to Ireland's responsibility, under the Paris Agreement, to do our fair share of the global effort to address climate change - and would make doing our fair share an explicit objective of the Climate Act.
As a rich country, doing our fair share of the global effort is the very least we can do to stand in solidarity with poorer countries who are already experiencing the worst impacts of climate change, despite having done least to cause it. So amendments to achieve this are important and we hope they will be accepted.
Their amendments also define climate justice more clearly in terms of a just transition and the need to protect those most vulnerable to climate change while respecting human rights and the need to improve wellbeing.
Some of the proposed amendments are better than others - we particularly like the version proposed by Thomas Pringle and Joan Collins that defines climate justice in terms of Ireland's UNFCCC commitments and which stresses the need to address inequalities, implement a just transition and ensure public participation in climate action planning. We hope that other parties will support this wording.”
Other proposed amendments could severely damage the Bill, by exempting the agricultural sector entirely or by weakening the power of the Minister to achieve Ireland’s climate targets .
Commenting on this, Sadhbh O’Neill, Policy Coordinator, of Stop Climate Chaos said:
“Amendments proposed by a small minority of TDs who are opposed to adequate climate action would set us back decades and make our action to reduce emissions much less fair for most ordinary people.For example, Mattie McGrath, Carol Nolan, Michael Collins, Richard O Donoghue and the Healy Raes have proposed an amendment to exempt the agricultural sector from the scope of the Climate Act. The agricultural sector is responsible for over 34% of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions and there is huge potential for farmers to both save money and to reduce these emissions through diversification, shifting to low input methods and high nature value farming. If agriculture does not reduce its emissions other sectors would have to do even more, which is unreasonable and unfair.
An amendment proposing that methane should be accounted separately from other gases is in blatant conflict with the international emission accounting rules and would make a mockery of Ireland’s attempt to develop ambitious climate legislation.
Amendments tabled by Michael Fitzmaurice, who runs a turf contracting business, are also very concerning. They propose ruling out any climate actions to address emissions from peaty soils and seek to delay the ending of peat harvesting for a further 10 years."
Oisín Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth, added:
“If damaging amendments like this are accepted, Ireland will go from climate laggard to climate laughing stock. They would gut the Climate Bill - making it unfit for purpose. The Climate Committee must stay strong against amendments that have vested interests behind them.”
- Some of the proposed amendments, which would damage the Climate Bill, include proposals to:
- Accounting for methane separately from other gases which conflict with IPCC/UNFCCC accounting rules (proposed by Regional Independent Group, led by Denis Naughten).
- Diluting the national climate objective into meaningless nonsense that would delay action until a new set of treaties were agreed (proposed by Rural Independent Group).
- Limiting the power of the minister to take any action (Proposed by Rural Independent Group and Regional Independent Group).
- Limiting the responsibility of the state to do any climate action that might conceivably affect 'rural' communities as defined by their requirement for one-off housing and the need to continue with the already-outdated FoodWise 2025 strategy. (Proposed by Rural Independent Group).
- Seeking a permanent exemption of all agricultural fuels from carbon taxation. (Proposed by Rural Independent Group).
- Ruling out any climate actions that might address emissions from peaty soils and seeking to delay the ending of peat harvesting for a further 10 years. (Proposed by Michael Fitzmaurice).
- Most chillingly of all, exempting the agricultural sector from the scope of the Act in its entirety (proposed by Rural Independent Group) even though, according to Teagasc, many climate actions would save farmers money.
- Seeking to ban any 'cull' of livestock before 2050 in the absence of a public consultation.(Proposed by Rural Independent Group).
- Seeking to protect agricultural sector (conflated with 'rural Ireland') from any negative impacts without considering the potential impacts on other social groups. (Proposed by Rural Independent Group).
- Proposing a new carbon offset scheme to write off all of the emissions from agriculture - but with grants and subsidies! (Proposed by Rural Independent Group).
- Opposing the giving of climate responsibilities to local authorities and public bodies (Proposed by Rural Independent Group).
- Stuffing the climate change advisory council with representatives of farming organisations and 'rural Ireland' so that it would be effectively paralysed.(Proposed by Rural Independent Group).
- Setting up an arbitrary 'balance' between urban and rural reps on the CCAC (disregarding the issue of expertise) and giving the Dail the power to replace members of the council (Proposed by Michael Fitzmaurice).