Too Little, Far Too Late: National Mitigation Plan an Unmitigated Failure

17th March 2017
Press Release

The government’s newly published Draft National Mitigation Plan (NMP) is little more than a catalogue of failures and an unambitious roadmap to nowhere, according to An Taisce. Climate Action Minister, Denis Naughten describes the NMP as “a hugely important first step by this Government in enabling transition in what will be a long journey”. However, with no clear destination in mind and precious little ambition or political will invested in this entire Plan, it seems that rather than setting out on a bold journey, the government remains stuck in a rut.

While claiming to recognise climate change as “the global challenge of our generation”, the tone of the draft NMP belies the fact that the changes demanded on all societies if we are to have a fighting chance of averting what the IPCC has warned as “abrupt or irreversible climate change” are profound, wide-ranging and urgent, not vague, distant and incremental, as this document seems to imply.

What compounds the sense of failure is that the Government has, inexplicably, failed to first update its own long-term emissions reduction goals, known as the National Climate Change Mitigation Objective [Note 1]. In the absence of such an update, the new NMP simply locks Ireland in for climate actions that are both completely inadequate and also and also clearly inconsistent with our international commitments under the 2015 Paris Accord on Climate Change.

On RTE radio (‘Drivetime’) on Wednesday, Mr Naughten appeared to have more to say about protecting a few hundred (unsustainable) peat-burning jobs in the midlands and promoting the biomass industry than the safety and well being of the Irish public and our children’s generation. To recall the slogan of the International Trade Union Confederation: “there are no jobs on a dead planet”. An Taisce have suggested many times that a very needed real ‘Deep Retrofitting Programme’ would provide many jobs in the area [Note 2].

This is a time for courage and leadership”, according to John Gibbons of An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee. “The window of opportunity to act on the climate crisis while it is still possible is rapidly closing, but Minister Naughten appears to be content to gaze out this same window and continue to frame radical action as something that only needs to occur 20-30 years in the future.”

Minister Naughten has said repeatedly that we need to avoid ‘lecturing’ people and to ‘bring the public along’ when it comes to facing the huge challenges posed by climate change. However, this too requires political leadership. We trust that the Minister’s major public awareness and education campaign highlighting the scale of the challenge will rally this public support"

The minimal media coverage of what should have been an historic – and long overdue – announcement, underlines this dearth of ambition. Headlines such as ‘Government publishes vague climate plan, admits EU targets will be missed’ [Note 3] undermine Minister Naughten’s claim to have taken a “hugely important first step” with the publication of this draft mitigation plan.

An Taisce acknowledges the scale of the uphill challenge Denis Naughten faces as Ireland’s first Climate Action Minister, given the lip service Enda Kenny has paid to this crunch issue for his entire six years as Taoiseach, and given the sway powerful vested interests opposed to even the most modest climate action hold over the current government. However, he needs to be brave and determined in acting in the wider public interest, guided by scientific necessity, not political expediency.

To borrow a phrase from Mr Kenny’s own speech to the Paris Climate Conference [Note 4] in November 2015, we would urge Mr Naughten to now ratchet up his ambition and: “send the signal the world is waiting for and let us not deprive our successors and their children of a real future before they are born.

ENDS

For further information, contact:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland
www.antaisce.org

Notes

  1. Ireland’s Climate (In-)Action Plan: How can we plan a journey if nobody knows the destination? http://www.antaisce.org/articles/ireland%E2%80%99s-climate-in-action-plan-how-can-we-plan-a-journey-if-nobody-knows-the-destination
  2. Money to burn? Or 3,000 sustainable jobs for the Midlands http://www.antaisce.org/articles/money-to-burn-or-3000-sustainable-jobs-for-the-midlands-0
  3. Government publishes vague climate plan, admits EU targets will be missed (Harry McGee, Irish Times 15/03/2017) http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/government-publishes-vague-climate-plan-admits-eu-targets-will-be-missed-1.3012109
  4. COP21: Full text of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s address to Paris summit. (Irish Times, 30/11/2015) http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/cop21-full-text-of-taoiseach-enda-kenny-s-address-to-paris-summit-1.2449204

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.