Climate Change Committee Terms of Reference

2014

The Climate Change Committee is a Policy Subcommittee of the Council of An Taisce.

Adopted by An Taisce's Council on 8 February 2014

See the Membership of the Committee on the Who Are We page

Background: the Climate Challenge

Human activity is now impacting the living environment on global scales. We are encountering multiple hard physical planetary boundaries, each with the potential for severe damage to global ecosystems in general and human welfare in particular. Of these, cumulative greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution of the atmosphere, and consequent widespread climate disruption is the most urgent, the most potentially catastrophic, but seemingly the most resistent to effective societal response. The potential impact of climate change on the welfare of this and future generations is now so large that it determines the very possibility for achieving all other more specific objectives and goals of An Taisce. In this unique historical context, it is necessary for An Taisce to adopt an explicit mission of advocating for radical, urgent, large scale, and politically painful, climate policy action. The An Taisce Climate Change committee (ATCC) is established to provide the necessary expertise, analysis, advice and action to inform and support the An Taisce Board and Council in realising this mission.

Scope

The scope of ATCC is all policy issues arising directly within Ireland, and in Ireland's interaction with the rest of the global human community, in relation to the challenge of geologically-rapid, human caused, change in global climate patterns. This includes education and outreach to citizens nationally and internationally, to help them understand the scale and urgency of the challenge, and to enable them to identify means of engaging in positive and effective responses according to their diverse roles and influence in society. It includes interaction with national media to facilitate and promote informed public debate on the most appropriate policy initiatives and responses for Ireland. It includes engagement with public and private institutions, to inform and to respond to their interventions. Finally, it includes interaction with the Irish state, in the form of state agencies, local government, and, especially, with national government, to hold political representatives to account in their most fundamental obligation to preserve a livable global and local environment for future generations.

Activities

In general, ATCC shall be responsible for determining, on an ongoing basis, the most appropriate activities it should engage in, in order to best support An Taisce on all issues falling within its scope. These may include, but are not limited to, the following (in no particular order):

  1. Prepare and disseminate high quality briefing materials, and facilitate access to spokespersons with the appropriate expertise and media skills, to ensure informed media treatment of climate issues.
  2. Respond to media comment on climate change science and policy, providing critical, evidence-based, commentary, and rebuttals where appropriate.
  3. Promote strong, proactive, engagement and leadership by the Irish state in international climate policy and the achievement of effective international action, commensurate with the physical challenge, and on a basis of global equity.
  4. Promote the enactment of specific national legislation, and establishment of effective state institutions, to proactively manage the Irish national response to climate change.
  5. Identify and advise on situations where legal action may be open to An Taisce to promote or protect effective climate policy action.
  6. Respond to consultations initiated by government departments, state agencies etc., which are relevant to climate policy.
  7. Engage directly with public representatives and others with formal and informal social and political influence to promote commensurate responses to the climate change challenge.
  8. Engage with individuals and communities throughout Ireland to inform and support them in responding to climate change, and participating in local, national and international policy development.
  9. Contribute to development of overall An Taisce strategy on an ongoing basis.
  10. Collaborate with An Taisce Environmental Education Unit to enhance the treatment of climate change issues at all levels in the Irish education system.
  11. Collaborate with An Taisce Advocacy to ensure climate change issues are fully reflected, and appropriately prioritised, in all aspects of the Irish planning system.
  12. Engage in such other activities as ATCC, in consultation with the An Taisce Board and Council, may identify as relevant and appropriate on an ongoing basis.

Membership

  1. An Taisce Council shall establish ATCC with specified initial membership.
  2. The Chairperson of An Taisce shall be an ex officio member of ATCC.
  3. Only members in good standing of An Taisce shall normally be eligible to serve on ATCC.
  4. Any member of An Taisce may volunteer to serve on ATCC.ATCC itself may invite additional persons to serve on ATCC.
  5. All proposals of new membership of ATCC shall be notified to, and subject to ratification by, An Taisce Council.
  6. Resignations of membership from ATCC shall be notified to An Taisce Council.
  7. Membership of ATCC shall be a matter of public record, published via the An Taisce website.

Procedures

  1. ATCC decision making shall be by consensus insofar as possible. Where voting is necessary, inclusive voting procedures shall be adopted as far as practical.
  2. ATCC media interaction, including press releases, participation in media interviews, discussion panels, response to media queries etc., (where such interaction is identified as on behalf of An Taisce), shall be managed in accordance with such protocols as may be established from time to time by the An Taisce Communications Officer.
  3. ATCC may nominate one member to attend as an observer at any An Taisce Council meeting.
  4. ATCC shall submit a formal annual report to An Taisce Council, summarising activities undertaken and plans for the following year. ATCC shall nominate a member to present this report at the relevant An Taisce Council meeting and to respond to any questions arising.
  5. ATCC should nominate one or more members to maintain active liaison with the An Taisce staff team, and to participate, insofar as practical, in regular staff team meetings.
  6. ATCC shall adopt such further detailed procedures as it sees fit to govern its own operation, including frequency and schedule of meetings, mechanisms for internal communication, and assignment of specific roles to individual members.
  7. In the event of conflict among members of ATCC, or between ATCC members and other members, officers or staff of An Taisce, appropriate positive conflict resolution measures shall be adopted. If, and only if, such means of collaborative resolution are exhausted, the Chairperson of An Taisce shall be called on for binding adjudication.