Minister’s UN climate change speech says little and delivers less


Minister’s UN climate change speech says little and delivers less

Political rhetoric again masks sad reality of Government inaction on climate change

November 16 2017, 04:58pm

Political rhetoric again masks sad reality of Government inaction on climate change

After being ranked the worst country in Europe for action on climate change, Minister Naughten delivered a predictable and underwhelming statement on Ireland’s response at the UN climate talks in Bonn. In line with Government statements in previous years, the Minister’s speech was clear on the collective challenge but exceptionally weak on real climate action at home.


Jerry Mac Evilly, Policy Coordinator for the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, commented:

While the Minister’s strong support for greater coordination at UN level is to be welcomed, it is extremely disappointing to again hear the tired line of Ireland lacking “capacity or resources” , instead of focusing on what the Government has actually committed to do.

The state’s key strategy for climate action, the National Mitigation Plan, received only a passing reference and the various opportunities included in the recent recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly were not mentioned at all.


Dr. Cara Augustenborg, Head of Science and Communications at Friends of the Earth Ireland, commented:

Minister Naughten stated that small countries like Ireland “cannot do everything”, but the issue isn’t having “do everything”, it’s that Ireland is failing to do anything like its fair share.

He also claimed that we could do some things to reduce emissions well and be an example to other countries. However, it was disappointing that none of his examples – efforts to genotype the beef herd; reduce household food waste; increase broadband coverage across the country; and test ocean energy prototypes – would result in direct and immediate emissions reductions! It's no wonder Ireland was ranked worst in Europe in the 2018 Climate Change Performance Index if our own Minister for Climate Action doesn't even seem to understand that doing our fair share to prevent climate change requires far more than mere tokenism.



Ireland’s national statement, delivered by Minister Naughten at the COP 23 climate talks in Bonn, is available here.

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


Notes for the Editor

Stop Climate Chaos 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.

The 2018 Climate Change Performance Index is available to download here. The Index, which was launched at the UN COP 23 climate talks in Bonn, highlights Ireland as being the worst performing country in Europe for action on climate change. The Index is produced annually on the basis of joint analysis by two leading European think-tanks. It places Ireland 49th out of 56 countries, a drop of 28 places from last year. See list of media coverage via this link.

The recommendations, presentations and transcripts from the Citizens’ Assembly's examination of climate change are available at

Information on Ireland’s climate action

  • 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 one of seven EU Member States which is set to miss its 2020 emission reduction targets under the EU Effort Sharing Decision and Ireland is the only one of this group where emissions are predicted to continue to rise, even with the use of EU flexibility and accounting procedures. See analysis from European Environment Agency here.
  • 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.
  • 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. See articles by the Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, two articles by Politico (here and here), as well as Climate Change News.
  • 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.