Cross-party Oireachtas Committee delivers historic mandate for climate action. Now Government must lead.


Cross-party Oireachtas Committee delivers historic mandate for climate action. Now Government must lead.

Minister Bruton’s response – a new All-of-Government Climate Action Plan – due within weeks

March 29 2019, 01:01am

Cross-party consensus reached on practical measures across all sectors

Committee Recommendations help put Ireland on the right track, but more to do

The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition has welcomed the publication of the Report of the special Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, saying it represents an historic mandate for the Government to immediately step up climate action to cut Ireland’s rising emissions.

According to the coalition of overseas aid agencies, environmental groups, youth, faith and community groups, the landmark Report is an important building block for Minister Bruton’s All-of-Government Plan, promised before Easter, and the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), which Ireland must submit to the European Commission by the end of 2019.

However, the coalition has warned that Ireland, which has an international reputation as being a laggard on climate action, must now urgently play catch-up if it hopes to achieve the immediate deep emissions reductions called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Catherine Devitt, environmental justice officer with the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice and policy coordinator for Stop Climate Chaos, said:

Historically, there has been a complete absence of a detailed roadmap of agreed policies and measures to set Ireland on the right pathway towards decarbonisation. 

This milestone Report sets a baseline of ambition that will help put Ireland on the right track towards playing our part implanting the Paris Agreement. But as the Committee itself says more will be required to do our fair share.  

“The Government must now respect the mandate of the Citizens’ Assembly and the Oireachtas Committee by integrating these urgent recommendations into Minister Bruton’s All-of-Government action plan, due before Easter. “That would represent a new departure for Irish climate policy.

The publication of the Report follows eight months of intense cross-party scrutiny of Irish climate policy, based on consideration of the thirteen high level recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on climate action.

On long-term ambition, the Report recommends replacing Ireland’s current self-designated target of 80% reductions in emissions by 2050 with a target of a new net zero emissions 2050 by that date, in response to the latest climate science.  It also recommends that this 2050 target and new, aligned 2030 climate and energy targets be legally enshrined.  Importantly it also urges the Government to support an increase in EU policy ambition for 2030 targets. This would mean a change in the Government’s current stance of blocking greater 2030 ambition at the collective European level.

The Report also includes recommendations from the Oireachtas to the Government for immediate changes to policy governance and accountability through the use of five- yearly carbon budgets, in addition to more specific wide-sweeping recommendations across all sectors of the economy and society. 

Ms Devitt continued:

Many of the measures recommended are set to improve people’s lives through warmer homes, better public transport and cycling infrastructure, and supports for citizen and community participation in the low carbon transition.

The emphasis placed by the Committee on the need for fairness for households and workers is essential and the recommendations for immediate and sustained action through a Just Transition Task Force is welcome. 

This Oireachtas Report provides an unprecedented, historic cross-party mandate, that if acted and built upon without delay, will help change the course of Irish climate policy, reduce Ireland’s growing emissions and honour our national and international climate obligations.”

Acknowledging the scale and urgency of the challenge, the Committee recommend a sustained agenda of policy development and public engagement. They emphasise the need to align policy with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, with the principles of climate justice, and with the latest science, which states clearly that radical change is needed within the next decade.

Ms. Devitt concluded,

We are currently witnessing considerable social and economic effects of climate breakdown hitting the poorest populations around the world. At the same time, thousands of young people around the world are on the streets demanding greater leadership and more action on an unprecedented threat to their future.  

Failure to implement the Committee’s Recommendations would be an inexcusable missed opportunity to deliver crosscutting and sector-specific measures that can deliver quantifiable reductions in emissions and help shift public policy toward decarbonisation.”

The report of the special Oireachtas Committee is online here:

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.