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Citizens’ Assembly asks where is the political leadership on climate change?

October 1 2017, 04:05pm

Stop Climate Chaos Coalition
For immediate release
Sunday 1 October 2017

Citizens’ Assembly asks where is the political leadership on climate change? 

This weekend the Citizens’ Assembly kicked off a pioneering process in democratic decision-making on climate change. The 99 citizen members heard presentations from national and international experts on ‘how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change’.  The major issue which emerged over the weekend was the lack of political leadership in Ireland to drive climate action.

On Sunday (1st of October), the Assembly heard from several experts, including former EU Commission official Marie Donnelly, who highlighted that many other European countries are taking huge strides in combatting climate change, making renewable technologies available, reducing energy bills, cutting polluting emissions and improving citizens’ health. However, Ireland is being left behind; the Government is not implementing the sort of positive incentives for households and communities that are being put in place across Europe. The State is also failing to capitalise on excellent local projects and schemes, such as those carried out by the Tipperary Energy Agency.

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

 "Today the Citizens’ Assembly heard a series of inspiring presentations on what climate change leadership looks like in the energy sector. The Assembly really engaged with practical zero-carbon measures to sustainably generate electricity and heat our homes. But the takeaway message from the speeches and the discussion was the real lack of political leadership in Ireland. Time and again the Assembly asked why is Ireland a laggard and it emerged that the real impediment was Government inaction.”

The Citizens’ Assembly will meet again on the weekend of 4th and 5th November to vote on recommendations to Government.

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

ENDS

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

Notes for the Editor:

  1. All of the presentations and trancripts from the Assembly's sessions this weekend are available at 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 Pillaris 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 submissionthe 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 reportedthat 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 obligationsrather than planning on how to meet them, thereby undermining rather than supporting EU collective action on climate change.