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Citizens’ Assembly is a momentous opportunity to shake up Ireland’s backward climate policy

September 29 2017, 02:59pm

Stop Climate Chaos Coalition 
Friday the 29th September 2017
For Immediate Release

Citizens’ Assembly is a momentous opportunity to shake up Ireland’s backward climate policy

The Citizens’ Assembly will begin a ground-breaking process in democratic decision-making on climate change this weekend (September 30th). The 99 citizen members will hear presentations from national and international experts on ‘how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change’.

The experts will address several key topics, including the devastating effects of climate change both in Ireland and around the world. Assembly members will also learn about the significant changes needed in Irish policy-making, as well as a specific session on action in the energy sector. After a second weekend of debate, the Assembly will vote on recommendations to Government on November 5th.

Speaking on behalf of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, Jerry Mac Evilly commented:

 "This is a historic opportunity for Irish action on climate change. We have already seen the positive impact of this type of deliberative exercise by citizens, such as the previous consideration of marriage equality. The Assembly received a huge number of practical recommendations and will get key insights from climate change experts. They will have a unique opportunity to mandate our politicians to act urgently and decisively to cut climate pollution.”

The Assembly has already benefited from an extremely successful public consultation. This consultation generated major public interest both within Ireland and abroad and received close to 1,200 submissions from individuals, NGOs and businesses. The recommendations, which are available online, contain a huge number of transformational but practical ideas across energy, housing, agriculture and transport.

Actions put forward in the joint submission of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and the Environmental Pillar include setting an end date for peat burning and coal-fired electricity generation, putting concrete support in place for small-scale community renewable projects, providing significant funding for deep retrofitting of Ireland’s housing stock and increasing the share of investment that goes to walking, cycling and clean public transport.

Spokesperson for the Stop Climate Chaos member group, Friends of the Earth, Dr. Cara Augustenborg, explained:

“The consideration by the Citizens’ Assembly of Ireland’s response to climate change is an innovative approach that will be closely watched not just in Ireland but around the word. The public consultation brought in such a great selection of positive ideas on how Ireland should respond urgently to cut polluting emissions. The Assembly now has the opportunity to make sure the Government takes positive action on this crisis.”

The Assembly’s consideration of Government efforts to reduce harmful emissions is one of the most innovative approaches to the issue yet seen, both nationally and internationally. While the Assembly has been asked how Ireland can be a leader in tackling climate change, for decades Ireland has been a laggard on climate action. Our emissions are rising not falling and we are going to miss our 2020 targets.

ENDS

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Mr. Jerry Mac Evilly, Policy Coordinator, Stop Climate Chaos Coalition: jerry@stopclimatechaos.ie

Also available for interview are the following representatives who will be attending the public sessions of the Assembly this weekend:

Oisin Coghlan, Director, Friends of the Earth Cara Augustenborg, Head of Communications, Friends of the Earth Niamh Garvey, Head of Policy, Trócaire Philip Kearney, Chair, Climate Change Committee, An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland Niall Sargent, Communications and Development Officer, Irish Environmental Network

Civil society will also be tweeting on the following hashtags -

#CitizensAssembly

#LeadOnClimate

Notes for the Editor:

1. The public sessions of the Assembly meeting will be live streamed on www.citizensassembly.ie

2. Information on the remit of the Citizens’ Assembly, as well as submissions received from the public, is available here. Their 2017 meeting to consider abortion in Ireland, which recommended significant changes in abortion law is here. The Assembly is a successor to the 2012–14 Constitutional Convention, which catalysed the legalisation of same-sex marriage approved in Ireland’s 2015 momentous Marriage Equality Referendum.

3. The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition is the civil society coalition campaigning for Ireland to do its fair share to tackle climate change. The Coalition’s 33 members include overseas aid and development, environmental, youth and faith-based organisations.

4. The Environmental Pillar is a national social partner, comprising 26 national environmental organisations. It works to promote the protection and enhancement of the environment, together with the creation of a viable economy and a just society, without compromising the viability of the planet on which we live for current and future generations of all species and ecosystems.

5. In their joint submission the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and the Environmental Pillar make 18 practical recommendations that would (1) bring the years of inaction to an end, (2) move Ireland to the level of most of our EU partners, and (3) take a leadership role in certain areas, notwithstanding our poor record to date. They range across all sectors of the economy and society: energy, buildings, transport and agriculture.

6. Ireland is the third highest producer of emissions per person in the EU, and eighth in the OECD with polluting emissions increasing by 3.7% in 2015. Ireland is only one of five EU Member States which is set to miss its 2020 emission reduction targets under the EU Effort Sharing Decision, and the only one of these five States where emissions are predicted to continue to rise and where the State will likely be highly reliant on special flexibility procedures, such as the buying of credits from other countries, to close the gap based. See analysis from European Environment Agency available here.

7. The Institute of International and European Affairs reported that Ireland faces non-compliance costs of between €3bn and €6bn by 2030 without new substantive climate action measures to significantly reduce polluting emissions. Ireland’s reputation among EU partners has suffered as the Irish Government has repeatedly called for less demanding obligations rather than planning on how to meet them, thereby undermining rather than supporting EU collective action on climate change.