Loopholes in Climate Bill must be closed
With public hearings on the Climate Action Bill resuming today in front of an Oireachtas Committee, TDs and senators have crucial work to do to ensure that Ireland’s new climate law is fit for purpose.
October 21 2020, 02:43pm
Stop Climate Chaos Coalition
For Immediate Release
Wednesday 21st October 2020
The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition has today published a briefing that identifies key loopholes in the Government’s new Climate Action Bill, published two weeks ago, that must be closed if the new law is to drive the promised reductions in Ireland’s polluting emissions. Publication of the briefing  comes on the day the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action resumes its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill in order to recommend changes to the Government.
Commenting, Sadhbh O’Neill, Stop Climate Chaos Policy Coordinator said:
"The new Climate Bill substantially improves the 2015 Climate Law but we have identified serious loopholes that could undermine the purpose of the law."
"TDs and Senators have the opportunity now to recommend that these loopholes are closed and make the new climate law work as it was intended."
"Much of the progress on climate policy in recent years has come from TDs and Senators forging a cross-party consensus in the Oireachtas and driving official policy in the right direction. We urge them to do that again now."
The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition of over 40 civil society organisations is urging TDs and Senators on the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Climate Action to recommend the following key changes to the Bill:
1. "The State shall pursue and achieve" the 2050 objective.
The Heads of Bill published by the outgoing Government in January included the word achieve in the 2050 objective. This draft Bill does not. It needs to go back in again. Simply pursuing the objective is not good enough, we need to achieve it.
2. The state shall achieve the objective of a climate neutral economy by 2050 at the latest.
The 2050 objective in the Bill must be a floor for Ireland’s climate ambition, not a ceiling, particularly as net-zero by 2050 still does not represent our fair share of the global effort to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
3. The definition of a Carbon Budget must be tightened to make it explicit that it will cover all gases and all sectors in a single national emissions limit.
4. The Bill must oblige the Climate Change Advisory Council to propose Carbon Budgets that are in line with the 2050 climate objective in the Bill.
That clear and direct relationship between the long-term target and the 5-year Carbon Budgets is the driving force of effective climate laws in other jurisdictions. The budgets must ensure consistent, sustained action between now and 2050 in line with EU targets. It is currently missing in this Bill.
5. There must be a clear duty on the minister and the government to produce plans that are in line with the Carbon Budgets.
Not just to “have regard to” the Carbon Budgets when producing their plans.
Michael McCarthy Flynn, Senior Research and Policy Coordinator at Oxfam Ireland said:
"Many of the world’s poorest communities, who have done the very least to cause climate change, are already suffering most from its impacts. Climate change is not a future threat but a lived reality that people are already battling every day, facing increasingly frequent floods, droughts and heatwaves."
"The Bill must recognize the need for real climate justice and ensure that Ireland, as a rich, highly polluting country, is doing its utmost to reduce emissions. Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is far short of our fair share of global efforts to tackle the climate crisis. The Bill must make clear that this is the floor, not the ceiling of our ambition, and that early action is required to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees."
Dr. Ciara Murphy, Environmental Policy Advocate for the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice said:
"The Government must take the lead in tackling the climate crisis but public participation and buy-in will be a vital component of any climate action. The Bill should ensure that there is a legal commitment on the State to provide opportunities for the public to meaningfully engage with climate policy decision-making."
"We need key stakeholders from trade unions, farming organisations, business, the community and voluntary sector along with environmental and climate organisations around the table to discuss how we are going to cut pollution in a way that is fair and just. Public participation at the local level and dialogue between communities and local authorities is essential too."
"Climate action must leave no one behind, especially the most vulnerable and those who are most impacted by the transition to a low carbon economy."
- A full copy of Stop Climate Chaos’s briefing on the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2020 can be accessed here https://www.stopclimatechaos.ie/assets/files/pdf/what_needs_to_change_in_the_climate_bill_-_scc_briefing_oct_2020.pdf.
- Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) is a coalition of over 40 civil society organisations campaigning to ensure Ireland plays its part in preventing runaway climate change. It was launched in 2007 and is the largest network of organisations campaigning for action on climate change in Ireland. Its membership includes development, environmental, youth and faith-based organisations. Its members are: Afri, BirdWatch Ireland, Christian Aid Ireland, Comhlámh, Community Work Ireland, Concern Worldwide, Cultivate, Cyclist.ie, Dublin Friends of the Earth, Eco Congregation Ireland, ECO UNESCO, Feasta, Fossil Free TCD, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Irish Environment, Goal, Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Self Help Africa, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Just Forests, Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC), Liberia Solidarity Group, Methodist Church of Ireland – Council of Social Responsibility, Mountmellick Environmental Group, National Youth Council of Ireland, Oxfam Ireland, Peoples’ Climate Ireland, Presentation Ireland, Tearfund Ireland, Trócaire, An Taisce, VITA, VOICE., and Young Friends of the Earth.