Is Ireland’s new Climate Plan too weak?

HAVE YOUR SAY ON DRAFT CLIMATE PLAN

The Government has published its draft National Mitigation Plan on how it intends to reduce the mitigation plan.pngharmful emissions that contribute to climate change. A requirement under our climate legislation, the Plan must establish how Ireland will reduce emissions from buildings, agriculture, transport, and energy production. Liam Murtagh looks at the response of Minister Naughten and climate campaign groups to its publication and also how you too can respond.

Climate change is already a major cause of severe weather events, famines and refugee crisis that are happening around the world. Governments, including our own, have a major role to play in efforts to reduce harmful emissions, but they can’t do it alone. All organisations and individuals have also have a role to play. Because of our high emissions from fossil fuels and agriculture Ireland is not going to meet its EU 2020 emissions reduction targets by a long way and as a result our country will face hefty fines. Targets for 2030 are also expected to be challenging for Ireland, so serious and concerted efforts now need to begin.    

 In publishing the draft National Mitigation Plan (NMP) the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D. said that it represents a “hugely important first step by this Government in enabling our transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. Ireland faces significant challenges in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions …. It is vital now that interested stakeholders have their say as part of this public consultation to inform our ongoing work in finalising the Plan.” The Minister goes on to point out that the NMP is intended to become a living document, which is continually updated as ongoing analysis, dialogue and technological innovation generate more options.

 

RESPONSE FROM ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS

The response from climate campaign group to the draft Plan was generally one of disappointment. Oisin Coughlan of Friends of the Earth said: “The first consultation on this plan was in 2012. And five years later they launch another consultation on options because they don’t want to take any decisions. Contrast the lack of concrete commitments in this plan to the National Recovery Plan in 2010 or the Action Plan for Jobs, or the plan for agricultural expansion.”

stop-climate-chaosThe lack of definite and planned actions in moving Ireland to a low carbon economy was also reflected in the comments of spokespeople for the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition. Cliona Sharkey, Policy Officer with Trócaire and a Coalition spokesperson said: “The Plan locks Irish society into regressive and unjust actions for the next five years. This will not only hurt our economy in the long-term as the impacts of climate change worsen, but will also have significant environmental and human costs, affecting the most, poorest communities here in Ireland and abroad’

It is also argued by many that practical projects that would make a difference to emissions and also benefit the economy would include the deep retrofitting of houses, the electrification of most of our transport system, creating more offshore windfarms and also supporting domestic solar energy generation. While the Minister is well intentioned and says he wants to bring the public with him it is felt by many that he could be doing with more support from his Ministerial colleagues on this issue.

NATIONAL DIALOGUE ON CLIMATE ACTION

A ‘National Dialogue’ announced by the Minister is to “provide an inclusive process to green schoolsengage and seek consensus across society on enabling the transition to a low carbon and climate resilient future.” There will be a range of national, regional and local initiatives. Among possible one mentioned were Public Participation Networks, Climate Gatherings, People Talk and Citizen Juries, The People’s Conversation, and Climate Justice: Evidence to Action. There are already plans to involve young people through the BT Young Scientist competition and the Green Schools Programme – and under it a ‘Climate Expo’ is planned for this autumn.

HAVE YOUR SAY

As well as participating in the National Dialogue people can also respond in writing to the draft National Mitigation Plan (on Climate Change). A series of questions to guide responses to the public consultation, are included as an annex to the draft Plan. To view the Plan see ‘Latest Consultations’ at http://www.dccae.gov.ie. The closing date for submissions is 26 April 2017.

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