Immediate implementation of the Oireachtas Committee recommendations in full and on time the litmus test of Leo’s response to election results say campaigners.
Reacting to what the media is calling a Green Wave in local and European elections where climate change was one of the central issues, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan commented:
“The climate movement has made climate change a doorstep issue. Voters have sent a clear message that they want our Ireland to do our fair share to cut pollution. Now we need our public representatives to take climate action from the doorstep to the statute book.
“It was good to hear Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to say the Government had got the message. But it’s worrying he still leads by talking about individual behaviour change. The Citizens’ Assembly was crystal clear, people want the Government to lead. Ireland is not a climate laggard because the general public is against action, Ireland is a laggard because our Governments have failed to act on the evidence and the expert advice.
“There is no shortage of things for Government to do if they want to catch-up with the public’s appetite for climate action. The cross-party Oireachtas committee recently made 42 recommendations across all sectors of the society and the economy.
“The litmus test for Leo and Richard Bruton is will they commit to the immediate implementation of the Oireachtas Committee’s proposals in full and on time. Their new all-of-government climate action plan is due for publication in June. Then we’ll see if the Government is serious or not.
The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition is setting 5 tests for the new all-of-government climate plan:
1. Does the plan acknowledge the scale of the challenge?
Does the plan accept that Ireland needs to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 and that our 2030 targets must be strengthened in line with the Paris Agreement and the IPCCC science. Will Ireland finally join with other countries calling for the EU’s ambition to match its rhetorical commitment to the Paris Agreement.
2. Does the plan commit to putting the Oireachtas recommendations on governance into law by the end of the year
Will the Government bring forward legislation before the summer recess to amend the Climate Action Act in line Chapter One of the Joint Oireachtas Committee report to be enacted before Christmas. That includes our 2050 target into law, 5-year carbon budgets voted on by the Dáil, a strengthened Climate Action Council (and a standing committee of the Dáil to act like the Public Accounts Committee for carbon emissions.
3. Does the plan cut emissions in every sector?
Does the plan include new measures to cut emissions in every sector of the economy. And not just “consider” or “explore”. John FitzGerald, chair of the Climate Advisory Council famously called the Government’s last climate action plan in 2017 “100 good ideas but no new decisions”. The decisions in the plan have to be definite enough to allow the EPA to revise its emissions projections.
4. Does the plan “do the math”?
Does the plan quantify the emissions reductions for every measure. And does it add them all up and benchmark them against our existing 2030 target and our 2050 goal. Does it express them as a carbon budget.
5. Does the plan make clear how the Government will devise the next set of actions?
The Oireachtas Committee makes clear that even its full suite of recommendations achieve our fair share of climate action. Does the Government plan acknowledge that too and, crucially, lay our a process and a timeline for developing and adopting the next round of actions.