An Taisce calls on TDs to propose amendments to the weak Climate Action Bill

2nd June 2015
Press Release

In the face of figures from the EPA that show we are unlikely to meet our Climate Change Targets and Ban Ki-moon’s call for ‘Ireland to do more to curb Climate Change’ An Taisce is calling upon TDs to put forward amendments to strengthen the Climate Action Bill.

The Climate Action Bill currently going through the Oireachtas is weakly drafted, fails to ensure existing targets are met and further delays meaningful action. The Bill is now scheduled for Committee stage on Tuesday 9th June. An Taisce and other NGOs involved in ‘Stop Climate Chaos (SCC)’ are calling on all TDs to put forward a series of amendments to ensure the Bill contains legally enforceable targets.

An Taisce fully supports the SCC campaign for amendments, and believes that, due to the scale and urgency of the action required, the Bill should go much further and include a hard mitigation pathway commitment - i.e. an explicit quantitative claim on the dwindling global cumulative carbon budget. Further, it should include an explicit acknowledgement and policy measures to ensure that the bulk of remaining fossil hydrocarbons are left in the ground.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released updated greenhouse gas emission figures [Ref 1&2] clearly showing that current Government policies are committing Ireland to a dangerous high emissions future and are manifestly failing to chart a low carbon pathway for Ireland. The EPA gives ‘worst case’ and ‘best case’ figures but An Taisce see little likelihood that we will do much better than the worst case projections, which show that Ireland will miss its 2020 target by 11 percentage points.

The new EPA Projections report states:

Ireland is not on track towards decarbonising the economy in the long term in line with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 and will face steep challenges post-2020 unless further polices and measures are put in place over and above those envisaged between now and 2020.

Speaking for An Taisce, Charles Stanley Smith said:

For the period 2013 to 2020 Ireland, as part of the EU, has agreed to make legally binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions but these EPA figures show that this Government has failed to apply the measures necessary to achieve any overall cuts at all over this period, let alone the cuts actually required.

In fact emissions rates from Ireland will increase ever more rapidly toward 2020 and beyond – seriously endangering efforts to meet the new and more challenging EU targets that will be set for 2030.

Inadequate climate policy is increasing risks to the Irish economy, imposing impossible policy choices on future Governments and increasing Ireland’s national responsibility for global climate change.

An Taisce urge all political leaders in Ireland to address the critical and dangerous climate change challenge to our future economic and personal well-being as a matter of national priority. The best international advice, agreed with by Ireland’s own international declarations, says that cutting total emissions year-on-year starting now is by far the least costly course.

A better Climate Bill is needed and is still possible but we need to act quickly.

ENDS

For further information, please call:

Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
John Gibbons, Climate Change Committee, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2332689
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

NOTES:

  1. Stop Climate Chaos proposed amendments
  2. Looking at key sectors for the period from 2013 to 2020: Energy emissions will rise by 11%, agriculture by over 2% and transport by a shocking 19%. Only in the built sectors are some reductions being made. All of these areas are directly affected by government policy but the EPA figures clearly show that government policy is entirely failing to cut emissions from the key sectors:
  3. In the Energy sector, climate policy realities require very rapid decarbonisation of electricity generation, yet policy is failing to plan definite shutdowns of peat and coal and peat generators. Targets for renewables such as wind and solar are very likely to be missed. The continued burning of dirty domestic peat and imported coal for power, despite the known, severe economic costs due to health and climate impacts, is misguided and unacceptable.
  4. Agricultural emissions are high due to large numbers of beef and dairy cattle and will increase due to a projected huge expansion of the dairy sector, overall producing increased emissions of methane and nitrous oxide (both potent greenhouse gases). Despite being largely for exported production, Ireland is responsible for these increased emissions from agriculture. [Ref 3]
  5. Transport emission increases reflect a complete failure to achieve sustainable transport policy targets, which are now largely ignored by national government. The ongoing failure of dispersed planning requires roads and services to commuter settlements and one-off rural houses [Ref 4]. Further poor planning and more roads increasing fossil fuel dependency appear to be set government policy.
  6. Since Government entirely failed to divide the overall 2020 target reductions among individual sectors according to achievability, it can only be assumed that all sectors, including agriculture and transport, have a target of reducing their emissions by 20% by 2020 relative to 2005. Neither agriculture nor transport, were given a waiver from achieving a 20% reduction.
  7. Currently, the Departments responsible for agriculture and transport mistakenly appear to think that maintaining emissions at 2005 levels is enough to count toward for mitigation action. This view is completely unfounded. Far more serious policy aimed at real achievement of immediate cuts starting now is required.
  8. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, states: “Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”. Ireland has signed agreements committing to emission cuts in accord with science and equity, in line with limiting global surface warming to 2ºC, but these cuts are not being achieved.

REFERENCES:

  1. EPA (2015) Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Projections 2014-2035
  2. EPA (2015) Emission Projections 2014-2035 press release
  3. An Taisce (2015) Response to the DAFM Mitigation document
  4. An Taisce (2015) Principles for Sustainable Rural Settlement
  5. An Taisce (2015) National Roads Authority crashing into climate policy