McManus criticises delay publishing climate Bill HARRY McGEE Political Staff - The Irish Times - Thursday, November 19, 2009

LABOUR PARTY spokeswoman on energy Liz McManus has criticised the planned timetable for new legislation on climate change.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley said yesterday that the Bill would be published as early as possible in 2010.

However, Ms McManus said it was imperative that the legislation be published before Taoiseach Brian Cowen travels to the UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen in next month.

The politicians were speaking at a conference discussing the new British climate change act, which was held at the residence of British ambassador Julian King yesterday.

In his keynote speech, Mr Gormley said that Ireland, like Britain, wanted to lead from the front and by example.

He said Britain had given leadership through the legislation introduced last year which has commitments to reduce carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050.

It also sets out a framework for five-year carbon budgets and a new trading scheme for medium and large companies which are not subject to the EU’s emissions trading scheme.

The Minister said that a recent report on a Bill by the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on Climate Change was a valuable input. He said that the report, whose lead author was Ms McManus, could not, in itself, provide the basis for drafting legislation, though it showed there was clear all-party support for the legislation.

Ms McManus contended that the report could form the basis for legislation. She said that given the speed of the passage of the Nama legislation through the Dáil and Seanad, there was nothing to prevent the heads of a climate change Bill from being published for the Copenhagen conference.

Ms McManus said it was vital for Ireland to give a strong message of intent to the world.

Mr King, opening the conference, said that it went without saying that the UK Act was not part of Ireland’s domestic legislative process.

“As neighbours, we hope that by sharing our experience of what worked well, what didn’t and what we would have done differently, we can be helpful to you,” he said.

Mike Childs of Friends of the Earth in Britain said the legislation was firstly conceived by his organisation which began an active campaign several years ago to have the act adopted.

He said one of the big challenges was to achieve the targets set out to decarbonise electricity by 90 per cent by 2030, something which could not just be left to the Emission Trading System.

However, on British government plans to build 10 nuclear power plants, Mr Childs said that while every environmentalist had reconsidered the nuclear issue in recent years, he did not consider this the best option for Britain.

Charles Butterworth, the chief executive of Vodafone Ireland, said business wanted a long-term policy framework that creates certainty.

He said the corporate leaders’ group, of which Vodafone is a founding member, also wants the Taoiseach to take overall control of climate change policy.