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Citizens’ Assembly issues clarion call for Government to step up climate action

Common-sense, practical recommendations would allow us catch up with our European neighbours

November 5 2017, 04:53pm

Following four days of presentations and deliberation, the Citizens’ Assembly has voted to make 13 recommendations for State action on climate change . The Stop Climate Chaos coalition described the the outcome as “a clarion call for the Government to immediately step up climate action”.

Commenting on the outcome, Oisin Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth said:

"These common-sense, practical recommendations for climate action will not get us from laggard to leader. But they will allow us to catch up with our European neighbours. If implemented by Government they will end nearly a decade of dithering and delay”.

Niamh Garvey, Head of Advocacy at Trócaire commented:

Climate change is here, it is now, and it is everywhere. It’s impacting most profoundly on those who have done least to cause it. For the communities that Trócaire works with, the impacts of climate change are already too much.

Taken together, the 13 recommendations from the Citizens Assembly have the potential to ensure Ireland draws nearer to the European average for greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

The most striking recommendations to the Government from the Citizens’ Assembly include:

  • Prioritise public transport investment over new road infrastructure spending at a ratio of no less than 2-to-1. Currently the majority of state investment goes to road building which means more cars and more emissions.

  • The Citizens’ own willingness to pay higher taxes on carbon pollution and their recommendation that the agriculture sector should also apply the ‘polluter pays principle’ to its emissions, along with a further recommendation that the resulting revenue should be reinvested to support climate friendly agricultural practices.

  • An end to State all subsidies for peat extraction on a phased basis over the next five years. That would bring peat-firing for electricity to an end a lot sooner than 2030, which is Bord Na Mona’s current plan.
    An end to subsidies for peat extraction would cover not just the subsidies for burning peat for electricity but the subsidies for burning biomass with peat as well.

  • Establishment of an independent watchdog with clear powers to make sure the State sets and meets five-yearly targets for emissions reductions. The introduction of such targets were removed from climate legislation by the government before it passed in 2015.

ENDS

The recommendations, presentations and transcripts from the Assembly's sessions this weekend are available at www.citizensassembly.ie

Notes for the Editor:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. See analysis from European Environment Agency available here.
  3. The Government has pushed for the inclusion of several loopholes in EU legislation currently under negotiation concerning reductions in polluting emissions to be made by Member States between 2021 and 2030. The weak provisions as currently proposed would see Ireland’s required efforts going from a 10% additional reduction in emissions to just 1%. In relation to renewable energy legislation also being negotiated in Brussels, the Government is proposing that our 2030 target should be no higher than our 2020 target and is resisting EU initiatives to get us to do more.
  4. The Government is lagging behind the public on support for climate action. In a recent Eurobarometer poll, of all 28 EU member states Irish people responded most favourably to the statement "Fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can boost the economy and jobs in the EU" (88%). The poll shows that Ireland is 4th strongest on the need for our own government to "increase the amount of renewable energy used, such as wind or solar power, by 2030". 96% of 1,021 respondents in Ireland said that was important or very important.