2015 was the hottest year ever recorded, with many countries including Ireland experiencing extreme weather events on a level never seen before. Friends of the Earth and Trocaire have launched campaigns to encourage us to put questions to our politicians on their commitment to taking action on climate change and so set us on a path to a zero-carbon future.
Activists outside Leinster House illustrate the ‘tug-of-war’ between fossil fuels and renewables for the future of Irish energy policy
“Nobody ever mentions climate change on the doorstep”. This is what Oisin Coughlan of Friends of the Earth says he regularly hears from politicians. Given that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity, he says that when politicians are canvassing us for our votes we should ensure that we question them on what their policy is on addressing the challenge of climate change.
Oisin Coughlan says that by us mentioning flooding, fracking, or Ireland doing its fair share, on the doorstep or even just saying we’re concerned, means the TDs in the next Dáil will be that bit more likely to listen to organisations campaigning for climate action. He says that if you get into a conversation with politicians you can remind them that the recent Paris Climate Agreement and the Government’s new National Energy Policy that followed a few days later calling for a zero carbon future, means moving to a fossil-free, community-centred energy system, starting now. He goes on to suggest six questions that we could ask our constituency candidates.
Will you / your party:
- Ban fracking in Ireland?
- Put in place a payment for solar electricity so households and communities can get paid for the power they feed into the grid?
- Make a plan to stop burning peat for electricity by 2020 and coal well before 2025?
- Set up one-stop-shops in every county, like the Tipperary Energy Agency, to help households and communities to save energy and own renewable generation projects?
- Set up a financial support scheme, like the old SSIA’s, to help people invest in upgrading their homes to cut energy waste (Labour is promising one for first-time buyers, will you extend it to anyone retrofitting their home)?
- Make it the law that local communities have to be offered 20% ownership of developer-led energy projects, as happens in Denmark?
Oisin Coughlan says that a ‘yes’ to these six questions would be encouraging – and if these policies are implemented it would put us on path to a zero carbon future. Politicians will also face questions at an election husting event on Wednesday, 17 February at 5.45pm in Wynn’s Hotel. The event is being organised by Dublin Young Friends of the Earth Ireland and the Irish Environmental Network.
COLUMBAN ECOLOGICAL INSTITUTE’S QUESTIONS
The Columban Ecological Institute in Dalgan Park, Navan has developed a similar set of questions for us to ask politicians, as those compiled by Friends of the Earth. Writer and theologian Fr Sean McDonagh has been at the forefront of the Institute’s work. Included in the Institute’s questions is a specific question on how politicians can reconcile our commitments, on the one hand to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and on the other hand to increase the national cattle herd of 7.1 million cattle by 300,000 by 2025, as set out in the Governments ‘Food 2025’ Plan. The Institute points out that methane from cattle is even more damaging than carbon as a greenhouse gas and that agriculture already contributes one third of Ireland’s emissions.
TROCAIRE’S QUESTIONS AND VIDEO
Trocaire’s campaign slogan is ‘Vote for Justice in 2016 – Tell election candidates we need action on climate change’. The two questions they suggest that we ask politicians are: 1. Will you immediately take action to phase out polluting fossil fuels? 2. Will you commit to Ireland signing up to a Financial Transaction Tax? (To pay for urgent climate action and also to fund public services here in Ireland, at no extra cost to citizens. See http://www.robinhoodtax.ie). A humourous part of Trocaire’s campaign, but also one that highlights the serious issue of ‘short-termism’ is a spoof party political promotion video by Joseph Bloggs of the ‘Party Now’ Party. To view the video see ‘Get Involved / Election 2016’ at http://www.trocaire.ie
Trocaire’s spoof video, featuring Joseph Bloggs of the ‘Party Now’ Party, has a powerful message
February events can be found here