Cross-party consensus for serious climate action emerges in Oireachtas Committee votes on Wednesday evening


Cross-party consensus for serious climate action emerges in Oireachtas Committee votes on Wednesday evening

Special all-party Committee deciding its recommendations for its landmark report to be published on Thursday

March 27 2019, 11:56pm

The special all-party Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action voted on Wednesday evening on a series of recommendations for practical, far-reaching policies and measures to cut Ireland's climate polluting emissions. 

After months of public hearings and weeks of inter-party negotiations, the Committee, set up to consider the landmark call to action from the Citizens Assembly on climate change, has moved into public session to formally debate and adopt the recommendations that will part of its report that will be published tomorrow.

The recommendations will comprise a sweeping mandate from the Oireachtas for the Government to finally step-up Ireland's climate action. Minister Richard Bruton has promised a new All-of-Government climate action plan before Easter.

The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition welcomes the recommendations and will issue its full comment on the report as it is published tomorrow. 

The landmark recommendations being voted on this evening include:

  • New climate legislation providing for
    • A target for Ireland to have net-zero emissions by 2050 to be put into law
    • The setting of 5-yearly carbon budgets (pollution limits) by the Oireachtas
    • A target of 70% of electricity to be renewable by 2030
  • A stronger Climate Action Council.
  • A new standing committee of the Oireachtas to act as the public accounts committee for carbon.
  • A Just Transition Taskforce involving all stakeholders to deliver security and opportunity for those impacted until the move to a low carbon economy.
  • The establishment of a One-Stop Shop in each county to support citizen and community participation in the transition.
  • Public information campaigns by Government and a more pro-active role for broadcasters and Met Eireann.
  • An appraisal of the emissions impact of all new infrastructure projects including those in Project Ireland 2040.
  • That people and communities should be able to sell micro-gen solar and other renewables to the grid and get paid at least the wholesale price for electricity.
  • Planning restrictions for solar PV on homes, farms and small businesses should be lifted.
  • A target for community owned renewable electricity of 500MW by 2025.
  • The Government should re-evaluate its plans to subsidise biomass to co-fire the peat stations in light of the concerns of the Climate Advisory Council
  • Bord Na Mona and the ESB should re-evaluate its plans to co-fire peat with biomass due to the lack of indigenous supply of biomass.
  • A new plan for agriculture to align it with meeting Ireland's commitments under the Paris Agreement to be drawn up by the end of the year.
  • Reform of the CAP to support that transition.
  • The Government should convene a stakeholder forum on agricultural diversification by June 2019.
  • A new national land-use plan
  • A national hedgerow survey by 2020
  • An independent sustainability audit of Coillte's forest business in 2019
  • A new forestry plan, focused on climate mitigation by end 2020
  • A target of peatlands being net sequesters not emitters of carbon by 2050; a funded programme of rehabilitation and restoration of peatlands by the end of this year.
  • An urgent needs assessment of what is required to retrofit 45,000 homes a year and explore increasing that to 75,000 houses a year over time.
  • That revised building regs would set a Nearly Zero Energy Building standard by end 2020.
  • A huge programme of retrofitting public buildings
  • A ban on new fossil fuel boilers in public buildings
  • A  new implementation plan for the Smarter Travel: A Sustainable Travel Future policy in time for Budget 2020
  • Full implementation of the National Cycle Policy Framework by 2020
  • An expanded rural transport programme

Notes for the Editor

  1. 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.
  2. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action was established with cross-party consensus in July 2018, charged with considering the thirteen high level recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on climate change, and how current departmental climate policies could be strengthened. The outcomes of the Assembly showed that Irish society is ready for tangible and immediate climate action. The Assembly outcome represented the most explicit, detailed and considered public mandate for an immediate and strong political response. Stop Climate Chaos Coalition has consistently urged the Committee to respect and represent the level of policy ambition called for by the Citizens’ Assembly, by providing new substantive, concrete policy recommendations to ensure that action from now on is adequate and timely, and is line with Ireland’s international climate obligations.
  3. In March 2018, the Stop Climate Chaos coalition called for the establishment of a dedicated Oireachtas Committee to take the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations forward, as was done with the Assembly report on the eighth amendment to the Constitution. See the Stop Climate Chaos letter to the Oireachtas Business Committee.
  4. The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition’s submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action is available here.
  5. The Citizens’ Assembly’s published report is available here. This includes the Assembly’s 13 recommendations on ‘how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change’. The Assembly agreed these recommendations after four days of expert presentations in 2017 and following a major public consultation that received close to 2000 submissions.