Three years after it was first due to be published, the Fine Gael/Labour Government has published its climate change report which critics have said offers nothing in the way of strict targets.
Released by Ireland’s Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, TD, the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 has given Ireland 35 years to achieve a ‘low-carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy’, but refrains from setting actual targets and how this will be achieved.
The lack of defined targets was first proposed by Kelly’s predecessor Phil Hogan, now the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, and has fiercely been criticised as giving the Irish Government an easy way out and three years later, much of the wording has not changed.
In comparison, the European Union’s (EU) 2020 climate agreement between member states will need to see Ireland lower its emissions by as much as 20pc from its 1995 levels, which if not met, will see heavy financial levies placed on the country that could reach as high as billions of euros.
Potentially damaging to green economy
However, those in Government say this bill will be adhering to the 2020 target and beyond with the help of an advisory group of between nine and 11 members that will assist the Minister for the Environment on government decisions relating to climate change and its future in Irish life.
This will include a national mitigation plan that will attempt to push the country’s energy supplies away from fossil fuels and on to renewable energy sources, as well as a national adaption framework to respond to the physical effects of climate change, in particular rising sea levels.
The Green Party has been particularly vocal in its criticism of the bill, with its leader Eamon Ryan saying, “Reading the Climate Bill, one thing is clear: Fine Gael and Labour have no ambition when it comes to tackling climate change. Quite frankly, they don’t give a damn.”
He continued, “The lack of any long-term climate targets will kill investment in new low-carbon economic infrastructure. The potential exists for thousands of jobs in the green economy, but by delaying today, those jobs will be lost to foreign competitors, and we will have a more expensive and difficult transition to make later on.”