Dáil Eireann Declares Climate Emergency and Endorses Blueprint for Climate Action

Dáil Eireann has tonight voted [1] to declare a “Climate Emergency” and ” accept and endorse” the blueprint for action developed by the cross-party Committee on Climate Action.

Reacting, Oisin Coghlan, Coordinator of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, said:

“This is a radical mandate for climate action from the Dáil. It really puts it up to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, whose climate action hasn’t matched his virtue signalling. Minister Bruton has promised a new all-of-government climate action plan will be published within weeks.
“To respect this declaration of a Climate Emergency the Government’s first response must be to commit to the immediate implementation of the Dáil’s blueprint for action, in full and on time, as part of their own new plan.
“We have a climate emergency because we now have to do in 10 years what we should have started 20 years ago. None of the Oireachtas’s recommendations are rocket science. Few are radical or new. All are overdue. But together they put us on the path to implementing the Paris Agreement.

The 41 recommendations of Oireachtas Committee, “accepted and endorsed” by the Dáil tonight, include:

  • New climate legislation to be enacted in 2019 providing for
    • A target for Ireland to have net-zero emissions by 2050 to be put into law
    • The setting of 5-yearly carbon budgets (pollution limits) by the Oireachtas
    • A target of 70% of electricity to be renewable by 2030
  • A stronger Climate Action Council.
  • A new standing committee of the Oireachtas to act as the public accounts committee for carbon.
  • A Just Transition Taskforce involving all stakeholders to deliver security and opportunity for those impacted until the move to a low carbon economy.
  • The establishment of a One-Stop Shop in each county to support citizen and community participation in the transition.
  • Public information campaigns by Government and a more pro-active role for broadcasters and Met Eireann.
  • An appraisal of the emissions impact of all new infrastructure projects including those in Project Ireland 2040.
  • A carbon price trajectory that rises to €80 per tonne by 2030, only be implemented when an evidenced-based plan is in place to increase supports and incentives for climate action measures, including the protection of those vulnerable to fuel poverty.
  • That the proceeds from carbon pricing should be ring-fenced in legislation to ensure this does not go into general Exchequer funding, with a consultation on whether the revenue should be invested in climate action or refunded directly to citizens by way of a “cheque in the post”.
  • That people and communities should be able to sell micro-gen solar and other renewables to the grid and get paid at least the wholesale price for electricity.
  • Planning restrictions for solar PV on homes, farms and small businesses should be lifted.
  • A target for community owned renewable electricity of 500MW by 2025.
  • The Government should re-evaluate its plans to subsidise biomass to co-fire the peat stations in light of the concerns of the Climate Advisory Council
  • Bord Na Mona and the ESB should re-evaluate its plans to co-fire peat with biomass due to the lack of indigenous supply of biomass.
  • A new plan for agriculture to align it with meeting Ireland’s commitments under the Paris Agreement to be drawn up by the end of the year.
  • Reform of the CAP to support that transition.
  • The Government should convene a stakeholder forum on agricultural diversification by June 2019.
  • A new national land-use plan
  • A national hedgerow survey by 2020
  • An independent sustainability audit of Coillte’s forest business in 2019
  • A new forestry plan, focused on climate mitigation by end 2020
  • A target of peatlands being net sequesters not emitters of carbon by 2050; a funded programme of rehabilitation and restoration of peatlands by the end of this year.
  • An urgent needs assessment of what is required to retrofit 45,000 homes a year and explore increasing that to 75,000 houses a year over time.
  • That revised building regs would set a Nearly Zero Energy Building standard by end 2020.
  • A huge programme of retrofitting public buildings
  • A ban on new fossil fuel boilers in public buildings
  • A  new implementation plan for the Smarter Travel: A Sustainable Travel Future policy in time for Budget 2020
  • Full implementation of the National Cycle Policy Framework by 2020
  • An expanded rural transport programme

The special cross-party Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action was set up in 2018 to consider the 13 high-level recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly and to develop specific, time-bound, actions for Government Departments to be included in the National Energy and Climate Plan that the Government has to submit to the European Commission before the end of 2019.

Notes

[1] The motion passed by the Dáil this evening reads:

That Dáil Eireann declares a climate and biodiversity emergency and accepts and endorses the Report of the Joint Committee on Climate Action entitled ‘Climate Change: A Cross Party Consensus on Climate Action’, copies of which were laid before Dáil Eireann on 29th March 2019, and calls for the Citizens’ Assembly to examine how the state can improve its response to the issue of biodiversity loss.

[2] The report of the Joint Committee endorsed by the Dáil tonight, ‘Climate Change: A Cross Party Consensus on Climate Action’, is online here: http://bit.ly/JOCCAreport1.

[3] The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action was established with cross-party consensus in July 2018, charged with considering the 13 high-level recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on climate change, and how current departmental climate policies could be strengthened.

[4]  The Citizens’ Assembly formal report on climate change was published in April 2018 (available here) and was laid before the houses of the Oireachtas.

[5]  In March 2018, the Stop Climate Chaos coalition called for the establishment of a dedicated Oireachtas Committee to take the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations forward, as was done with the Assembly report on the eighth amendment to the Constitution. See the Stop Climate Chaos letter to the Oireachtas Business Committee.

[6] In 2017 the Citizens’ Assembly considered climate change, with a major public consultation that received close to 2000 submissions, and four days of expert presentations and deliberation. The Stop Climate Chaos press release on the adoption of the Assembly’s 13 recommendations in November 2017 is here: “Citizens’ Assembly decisions on climate change a momentous opportunity to shake up Ireland’s backward policies“. Our submissionto the Assembly’s public consultation is online here.

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