Stop Climate Chaos coalition responds to Climate Change Advisory Council’s Annual Review
July 25 2023, 01:24pm
Today, 25th July, the CCAC published its 2023 Annual Review. Key messages from their report include:
Ireland will not meet the targets set in 1st and 2nd carbon budget periods, 2021 to 2025, and 2026 to 2030 respectively unless action is taken immediately and emissions begin to fall rapidly.
The report warns that Ireland must prepare for a future based on a ‘significant and rapid reduction in the use of fossil fuels.’
The sectoral emissions ceiling for the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry sector must be set, and it must be clear by how much each sector must reduce its emissions.
Government needs to identify and remove barriers to policy implementation by ensuring adequate funding and planning reform at scale and speed.
Key actions need to be implemented now to prevent longer term damage and increased costs to society and the economy.
Government must adopt new approaches to address emissions reductions, creating investment and enhancing skills across the economy particularly in areas such as retrofitting and renewable energy.
Budget 2024 should set a target of all social housing being upgraded to a building energy rating of B2 or connected to a district heating network by 2030.
Establishment of a Just Transition Commission is recommended to ensure Just Transition principles are central to climate policy.
The connection of residential buildings to the gas network and the installation of new fossil fuel heating systems in new or refurbished buildings needs to be phased out urgently
Reducing data centre electricity demand should be based primarily on shifting demand to times when the output of renewable energy is high and avoid the use of on-site (gas and diesel) generation.
A requirement that Just Transition principles and plans are integrated and developed in tandem across climate policies to ensure a fair and equitable transition to climate neutrality.
Reacting to the publication, Sadhbh O’ Neill coordinator of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition stated,
“Today’s publication of the CCAC annual review throws into stark relief the work that Ireland has to do, to contribute our fair share of the global climate mitigation effort and get our polluting emissions down to net zero. The report says that Ireland is not on track to meet both the first and second carbon budgets. These budgets are legally binding, and it is welcome that the CCAC is calling on the government to introduce much more ambitious policies and at a faster pace. The Minister is legally required under the 2021 Climate Act to respond to this report and introduce corrective measures to get Ireland back on track to meet the carbon budgets.”
“The CCAC have noted that the Government has yet to finalise its sectoral emissions ceilings. Furthermore, the delays in reducing emissions today mean that steeper emission reductions will be required in the future in order to remain within the carbon budgets. We need each government department to step up and put in place measures to get back on track with the sectoral emissions ceilings.”
“The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action must now set up hearings with each Minister to hear about what measures they will now take following the publication of the CCAC review and latest EPA reports as is provided for in the Climate Act. This is an important accountability moment and the only legally mandated opportunity for TDs to interrogate each Minister on their performance under the carbon budgets and climate action plan.”
According to Dr. Ciara Murphy of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice,
“Climate policies must be socially fair. It is welcome that the CCAC is calling for the immediate establishment of a Just Transition Commission on a statutory basis. We cannot assume that the rapid emission reductions will be easy: families are struggling with rising costs of living and a housing crisis. Much more needs to be done to support households that are struggling financially and that are experiencing energy poverty. We call for additional measures that bring climate action and the cobenefits directly into communities via improved public services; sustainable and low-cost and social housing; affordable, clean energy; accessible and healthy green spaces; access to sustainable transport including active transport infrastructure; and investment in green skills and jobs.”
Caroline Whyte of Feasta, the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, commented:
"The Review mentions that energy demand is projected to increase by an enormous 37% by 2031, compared with 2021 levels. This projection - which comes from Eirgrid, and is based on future economic growth modelling - is absurdly extravagant and unjust. In a world of finite and contested resources, such demand growth is clearly unsustainable. Rather than authorising ever-more ‘growth-enhancing’ energy-hogs such as data centres, the State should instead focus much more strongly on equity and ensuring that everyone’s basic needs can be met.”
Collette McEntee of the joint ‘Feminist Communities for Climate Justice’ project between the National Women’s Council and Community Work Ireland commented:
“The CCAC report highlights the need to increase efforts to support all members of society in making the transition; we need to ensure that all climate policies are gender, equality and poverty-proof. The report calls for meaningful dialogue with civil society, which we welcome. Many people feel locked out of climate policy debates because it does not connect with their lived experiences and we need to ensure that efforts in reducing carbon emissions do not exacerbate inequalities. It is vital that we bring the conversation into communities and make the issues and the solutions relevant to the day to day struggles that people are living with. The Council’s report states that there is a need to set out a ‘Vision for Ireland’ which describes the kind of future we need to be planning for. We welcome this, and call for sustained public engagement in local climate action that recognises the intersectionality of energy poverty, insecure housing, gender inequality, poverty, and other forms of marginalisation.”
On transport, Sadhbh O’ Neill of The Stop Climate Chaos coalition stated:
“We welcome the report’s emphasis on the need for a strong planning framework to ensure that new housing avoids generating further unsustainable travel demand. The report states that we need to reduce vehicle kilometres travelled by private cars in Ireland by limiting further urban sprawl and creating more effective incentives to develop vacant and derelict sites in urban areas. We welcome the recommendation for a demand management strategy using proven policy measures such as congestion charging and low emission zones.”
On biodiversity, Oonagh Duggan of BirdWatch Ireland commented:
“It is welcome to see the Council acknowledge the biodiversity emergency in Ireland and call for win-win actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change as well as addressing biodiversity loss. To do this careful planning and habitat restoration, with support from landowners, is essential. A key message in the Council’s review is ‘right action in the right place’ however we have yet to see the state ensure this concept is integrated into its afforestation or renewable energy policies. This must change urgently as we risk further decimation of populations of wild birds and other biodiversity as a result. We also welcome the Council’s call for an ambitious and adequately resourced national policy framework for the conservation and restoration of biodiversity. This is a key piece of the jigsaw that must be put in place by the Government”.
Siobhán Curran of Trócaire commented:
“From an international climate justice perspective, the Government must significantly ramp up efforts over the coming years if Ireland is to do anywhere near its fair share of the global climate mitigation effort. Given our current high emissions per capita, historical emissions, higher incomes, and capacities, we must step up climate action. What is particularly useful in the CCAC report is the use of indicators to track progress and as a way of comparing Ireland with other countries. The indicators show that Ireland emits 8.5tCO2 per capita which is twice the global average.
Siobhán Curran continued:
“There is gross global inequality in emissions: the International Energy Agency states that the top 1% of global emitters emit 1000 times the carbon pollution of the bottom 1%. The bottom 10% of emitters globally live in developing economies in Africa and Asia, where they consume relatively small amounts of goods and services, and in many cases lack access to electricity and clean cooking. These are often the same communities and countries that are on the front line of global climate breakdown. Climate justice demands that we address excessive consumption of material and energy resources to create the room for developing countries to improve standards of wellbeing within planetary boundaries.”
Finally, on agriculture, Sadhbh O’ Neill coordinator of the SCC coalition remarked:
“We welcome the recommendation that the government invest in consumer information initiatives to better inform consumer choice in relation to sustainable diets. The report also recommends that detailed diversification measures are developed for inclusion in the EPA’s future modelling. Such measures would support farmers reducing their livestock numbers and engaging in horticulture, tillage and other farming and food production initiatives in ways that would enhance the sustainability of both the food system and land uses. However the CCAC does not recommend any reduction in livestock numbers which is regrettable, given the correlation between the milk output, synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use and the fact that it recognises that the sector will not meet the sectoral emissions ceilings target for 2030.”
Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) is a coalition of civil society organisations campaigning to ensure Ireland does its fair share to tackle the causes and consequences of climate change. Launched in 2007, it is the largest network of civil society organisations campaigning for action on climate change in Ireland. Its membership includes environmental, development, youth, community, social, and faith-based organisations.
Its members are: Action Aid, Afri, An Taisce, BirdWatch Ireland, Christian Aid Ireland, Christian Blind Mission, Clare PPN, Climate and Health Alliance, Comhlámh, Community Work Ireland, Concern Worldwide, Cultivate, Cyclist.ie, Dublin Friends of the Earth, Eco Congregation Ireland, ECO UNESCO, Feasta, Friends of the Earth, Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Irish Doctors for the Environment, Irish Heart Foundation, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Just Forests, National Women's Council of Ireland, National Youth Council of Ireland, Oxfam Ireland, Trócaire, Union of Students in Ireland, VOICE.