Minister Naughten to deliver annual climate change statement today as Ireland’s reputation on climate action lies in tatters

Minister Naughten will come before the Seanad today (Wednesday 29 November) to deliver the Government’s second annual statement on Ireland’s action on climate change. The statement is a requirement under the 2015 Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act. As part of this statement, all relevant Ministers (for energy, transport, agriculture and housing) are required to provide an update on measures taken to reduce polluting emissions in their respective sectors and report on progress made on national and EU commitments.

Minister Naughten is expected to face tough questions on Ireland’s record as the state’s emissions are continuing to increase at an alarming rate. The Government’s ongoing failure has been repeatedly raised at national and EU level by both independent and State authorities:

  • Just this week, the Environmental Protection Agency released its latest analysis which shows that Ireland’s emissions increased markedly in 2016, following another substantial increase in 2015. National emissions increased by over 7% in just two years with significant increases across all the main polluting sectors.
  • Earlier this month, the EU’s independent advisory body on climate change, the European Environment Agency, produced its annual overview of emissions reductions. Ireland is the third highest producer of emissions per person in the EU and is one of seven EU Member States which is set to miss its EU 2020 emission reduction targets under the EU Effort Sharing Decision. Crucially, Ireland is the only one of this group where emissions are predicted to continue to rise.
  • Also in November, Ireland was ranked the worst performing country in Europe for action on climate change. The Climate Change Performance Index, which is produced annually on the basis of joint analysis by two leading European think-tanks, placed Ireland 49th out of 56 countries, a drop of 28 places from last year.
  • In July 2017, Ireland’s Climate Change Advisory Council produced its first Periodic Review Report, which provides an independent, expert assessment of Ireland’s performance on climate change. The Council stated: ‘Ireland is unlikely to meet its [EU] 2020 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a substantial margin. This will have implications not only for 2020, but also for compliance with 2030 targets. It is urgent that effective additional policies are implemented to place the economy on an environmentally sustainable pathway to a low-carbon Ireland in 2050.’

While Ireland’s record is poor and is getting worse, the recommendations recently produced by the Citizens’ Assembly highlight that the Irish public is prepared to back immediate and strong action to tackle climate change. On the 5th of November, the Assembly voted to make 13 common sense, practical recommendations for state action on climate change

 

Jerry Mac Evilly, Policy Coordinator for the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, commented:

 

‘Stop Climate Chaos is calling on Minister Naughten to immediately revise the Government’s strategy on climate change, the National Mitigation Plan. The Minister has repeatedly said that the Plan is a living-document and given Ireland’s extremely weak record, as well as this mandate provided by the Citizens’ Assembly, now is the perfect moment to begin revising the strategy.’

 

Notes 

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.

Information on Ireland’s climate action:

  • Ireland is the third highest producer of emissions per person in the EU, and eighth in the OECD with polluting emissions increasing by 3.7% in 2015. Ireland is one of seven EU Member States which is set to miss its 2020 emission reduction targets under the EU Effort Sharing Decision. Ireland is also the only one of these seven States where emissions are predicted to continue to rise. See analysis from European Environment Agency here
  • The Government has pushed for the inclusion of several loopholes in EU legislation currently under negotiation concerning reductions in polluting emissions to be made by Member States between 2021 and 2030. The weak provisions as currently proposed would see Ireland’s required efforts going from a 10% additional reduction in emissions to just 1%. In relation to renewable energy legislation also being negotiated in Brussels, the Government is proposing that our 2030 target should be no higher than our 2020 target and is resisting EU initiatives to get us to do more.
  • Ireland’s reputation among EU partners has suffered as the Irish Government has repeatedly called for less demanding obligations rather than planning on how to meet them, thereby undermining rather than supporting EU collective action on climate change. See Editorial by the Times here (final section). See articles by the Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, two articles by Politico (here and here), as well as Climate Change News.
  • The Government is lagging behind the public on support for climate action. In a recent Eurobarometer poll, of all 28 EU member states Irish people responded most favourably to the statement “Fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can boost the economy and jobs in the EU” (88%). The poll shows that Ireland is 4th strongest on the need for our own government to “increase the amount of renewable energy used, such as wind or solar power, by 2030”. 96% of 1,021 respondents in Ireland said that was important or very important.
  • The recommendations, presentations and transcripts from the Citizens’ Assembly’s examination of climate change are available at www.citizensassembly.ie

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