Introduce a climate change law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
To ensure that Ireland does it fair share and moves decisively towards a low-carbon economy, we are calling on the government to implement the polluter pays principle and immediately bring in a climate change law which provides for an annual 'carbon budget', analogous to the annual financial budget, and 3% year-on-year reductions in Irish greenhouse gas emissions.
All sectors of Irish society would have to contribute to keeping within this budget, and allocations would therefore probably be made sector by sector. The carbon budget would be given similar political importance to the conventional budget with all government departments having a role to play in keeping emissions within the limits set.
Based on the scientific evidence, and the lead responsibility that should be taken by rich countries, we believe that the carbon budget should be set in line with a total average annual reduction in Irish greenhouse gas emissions of at least 3%. It should be noted however that the level of annual reduction rises with each year of delay, and that it must in any case be kept under review to reflect the latest scientific analysis of the sensitivity of the climate to greenhouse gas concentrations.
In order to achieve the required pollution reductions the Government will need to introduce a range of policies that support and incentivse innovation in public services, private enterprises and personal behaviour. The implementation of the polluter pays principle endorsed at the Rio Earth Summit will have to be central to that effort. Putting a price on carbon across the whole economy can be a clear and fair way to encourage individuals and organisations to make choices which reduce pollution. The carbon pricing system can and must be designed in a way that ensures the social protection of the most vulnerable people in our society. Failure to act will exacerbate the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable people on the planet.