EU climate negotiations a key test of Ireland’s ambition on climate change

Tomorrow (Tuesday 21st November) marks a key stage in EU climate change negotiations when representatives from the Council and Parliament again meet to discuss a new EU climate law concerning emissions reductions to be made by Member States between 2021 and 2030. As recently as October, Ireland pushed for the inclusion of several loopholes in the proposed legislation. However, last week at UN climate talks in Bonn, Minister Naughten welcomed efforts by the Fijian Presidency to increase global ambition through a new Talanoa Dialogue process. In order to move Ireland from its current position of European laggard, Minister Naughten must build on this international momentum and bring the EU Council’s position in line with the Paris Agreement.

Professor John Sweeney of Maynooth University commented:

The Government’s approach to these EU negotiations must focus on the need for increased action, not the inclusion of accounting loopholes. Tomorrow’s meeting between the Council and the Parliament is an opportunity to bring the proposed climate law into line with Paris Agreement commitments. Ireland should align itself with likes of the Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden and Luxembourg in the Council who are trying to strengthen the negotiating text.

If the Council continues to block necessary amendments, our 2050 commitments will only become more challenging. The text as it currently stands will also be a missed opportunity for Ireland to reap the many co-benefits of reduced emissions, such as improved soil, lower health costs and enhanced air quality.”

Jennifer Higgins, policy and advocacy advisor at Christian Aid Ireland, commented:

Just a few weeks ago the Citizens’ Assembly issued a clarion call for Government to step up climate action and put forward 13 recommendations to ensure Ireland catches up with our European neighbours. The Government must listen to their call for greater action and support a strong, as opposed to weak, EU climate law. Crucially, this means moving the Council position closer to that of the European Parliament.”

The weak negotiating text as currently proposed would see Ireland’s required efforts between 2021 and 2030 going from a 10%  reduction in polluting emissions to just 1%. This embarrassing result was noted by experts in Brussels in September, serving to further damage Ireland’s reputation.

An expert report recently produced by the Oeko Institute highlights the weakness of the Council’s position which risks undermining the delivery of EU 2030 targets. The approach put forward by the European Parliament is noted as allowing for the most progress.