New report confirms fatal flaws in Ireland’s proposed Climate Bill – An Taisce

4th May 2015
Press Release

Embargoed to 00:01am 5th. May 2015

The Government’s Climate Bill now going through the Oireachtas is deeply deficient compared to climate legislation already passed by other European nations. The recent independent analysis by ClientEarth, a London-based international environmental law firm, shows that the proposed legislation is politically compromised, legally ineffective and unlikely to aid in delivering any substantive climate action beyond bare compliance with EU targets.

As it stands, An Taisce considers the Climate Bill to be a worthless ‘Greenwash’, giving a misleading appearance of action but in fact failing to give any assurance of intent to actually deliver the necessary year-on-year reductions in total national greenhouse gas emissions. Contrary to Government rhetoric, Ireland is already falling far short of its EU 2020 emissions and renewables targets, and Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency projects ever-increasing emissions, especially from transport and agriculture, directly due to Government policy.

The ClientEarth report details “critical weaknesses” of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill, showing that it still needs:

  • Binding targets to 2050 with five-year plans that would direct continuous action on climate change, ensure future economic resilience and provide investment certainty.
  • An Expert Advisory Council that is truly independent of Government to resist short-term political pressures and deliver science-based national carbon budgets in line with emission reduction toward long-term targets.
  • Legal strength from regulation and penalties to ensure that binding targets, Expert Advisory Council advice and mitigation plans, are actually followed. (Otherwise what is the point of having legislation?)

As part of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition that commissioned this independent analysis, An Taisce fully endorses the damning conclusions of the ClientEarth report and further notes that the Government’s Climate Bill is entirely at odds with Ireland’s internationally stated commitment to act in accord with science and equity to limit global warming to +2°C and deliver climate justice for the poorest and most vulnerable.

The UN-mandated climate science expert advisory (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC) have stated unequivocally that “limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions”. Instead, and despite empty rhetoric to the contrary, current Government policy promotes uncontrolled increases in total greenhouse gas emissions on Ireland’s part. The proposed legislation does nothing to ensure that this reckless course will be reversed. The Climate Bill fails even to endorse the Government’s own National Policy Position on Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development thereby indicating that there is no sincere intent to deliver any substantial reductions in Ireland’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

For An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee, Barry McMullin said:

“As it stands, the Government’s climate legislation entirely fails to make certain that government departments will collectively deliver the necessary year-on-year cuts in total emissions that are critical to climate action needed to avoid irreversible dangerous climate disruption.

The ClientEarth report further supports our call for strong, reality-based amendments to the Bill as Stop Climate Chaos has repeatedly and clearly set out. We have to start cutting our annual national greenhouse emissions now to achieve a low carbon economy rapidly and to limit the very long-term climate damages that we are collectively causing by our current emissions.”

Amendments to the Bill are urgently needed now that the Bill has reached Committee stage; and these must be substantive and meaningful rather than a continuation of the cosmetic greenwashing indulged in to date. If such amendments are not forthcoming then An Taisce will be forced - most reluctantly - to call for outright rejection of both the Bill and the flawed Advisory Committee it creates; a Committee which appears likely - by design - to bow to short-term, political, departmental and vested interests.

We urge the Government to realise the vital importance of binding, progressive, year on year targets, advisory independence, and legal force so that it can deliver the worthwhile climate legislation it originally promised. An Taisce calls on all members of the Oireachtas to take this opportunity to produce a Climate Bill that will actually drive decarbonisation, encourage low-carbon investment and produce long-term benefits for future generations. It can be done – but only through political leadership based on tough but honest assessment of an implacable physical reality. Even at this belated eleventh hour, the Irish people surely deserve no less.

ENDS For further information, please call:

Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.ie

NOTES:

  1. ClientEarth's report - European Lessons for Ireland's Climate Law https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxEVOTzgFnKEVjhpRVptbVNHYXM/view?usp=sharing