The amendments have altered the character and ethos of the Bill, radically shifting the emphasis from the scientific to the political.

Giving any Minister the power to make regulations regarding the methods for counting greenhouse gas emissions or removals is a most significant deviation from the previous provisions in the Bill. 

The amendments’ requirement that the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) “shall comply with [Government-defined] regulations” is unacceptable. This undermines the independence and objectivity of CCAC, and reverses the direction of advice and information, with the Government giving the CCAC advice instead of the other way around.  

On foot of interventions by academics, climate activists and others over the weekend, a significant drafting error is being corrected in a new proposed amendment. While this is welcome, it still leaves in place the Minister’s powers to regulate, albeit more constrained.  

While the Minister has issued verbal assurances that he will consult with the CCAC, under these proposed amendments the council would still be legally obliged to comply with any Ministerial regulations, regardless of the science.

Professor John Sweeney, member of An Taisce’s Climate Committee, said:

Friday’s amendments were clearly flawed and seriously erode the Bill’s approach to measuring and monitoring greenhouse gas removals. It would be preferable for them to be removed at this stage and for a purely scientific and established approach to be reinforced in the Bill.

Professor Barry McMullin, member of An Taisce’s Climate Committee, said:

These last minute amendments were hasty, ill-considered and risk seriously undermining the scientific integrity of Irish climate action. Much better to omit, and allow CCAC to make properly independent, scientifically grounded, carbon budget recommendations, without subversion by sectoral vested interests.

Prior to the addition of these problematic amendments on Friday, the Bill represented a significant step forward for climate action in Ireland. We now call on TDs to pass the Bill without Friday’s additions and in so doing ensure that our legal framework for climate action is as scientifically and democratically robust as possible.

A series of other major remaining concerns regarding the Government’s. amendments in the Seanad are collated below:

  • They compound the existing Bill’s vagueness because they do not prevent future ministers or Governments from passing different regulations at different times, which would affect the carbon budgeting rules for different sectors or greenhouse gases or land CO₂ “removals”. If others then find that a Government has not taken due consideration of Paris-aligned carbon budgeting then will an individual or NGO need to assert the obligation to act consistently with the UNFCCC & Paris aims in court? And if someone does need to turn to the courts to assert climate law obligations, as Climate Case Ireland did previously, how will the mooted plans to change legal costs & standing rules to restrict access to justice impact on any such cases?


  • That means the very basis of national carbon budgeting and how society-wide emissions and pathways add up in regard to 2030 and Paris commitments could easily become confused and lacking in transparency thereby enabling mitigation deterrence and predatory delay. 


  • Such regulation could also open up potential misuse of public funds to reward polluters for reducing emissions on the basis of ad hoc regulation or base year definitions that claim Paris-alignment but fail to show a quantitative basis for the claim. 

  • Nowhere does the amendment specify or require that the CCAC be involved in developing regulations at all. Worse, even if the CCAC disagree (publicly or not) with the Government regulations, the CCAC are specifically precluded from setting carbon budgets and long-term goals on the basis of their own expertise, they can only follow the regulations they are given. If a Government fails to follow CCAC advice on regulations, the amendments do not require Government to explain why they did not follow carbon budgeting advice (in the UK such explanation is required). This is an unacceptable failure of democratic oversight.