Earlier this month a number of cross-party activists staged a sit-in at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment in Dublin to protest at the lack of government action on climate change.
The group want the government to ensure that 3 Bills presented to the Dáil are passed and not blocked by the Fine Gael led administration:
(1) Climate Emergency Services Bill (People Before Profit)
(2) Microgeneration Support Scheme Bill (Sinn Féin)
(3) Waste Reduction Bill (Green Party)
The Climate Emergency Services Bill introduced by PBP would ban oil and gas exploration off the Irish coast and was supported by the majority of TDs in the Dáil at the start of 2018. However an Oireachtas Committee split 50/50 on the question of returning the Bill to the Dáil earlier this week with Fine Gael and Independent members opposed. Independent Senator Michael McDowell said that the legislation was “ill-conceived” and said that the state was likely to depend on fossil fuels for some time yet.
Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley accused industry of scaremongering and called for a principled stand to be taken on tapping into wind energy.
The Bill for now is stalled and will be revisited by the Committee in January.
Sinn Féin’s Microgeneration Support Scheme Bill would force energy suppliers to accept electricity from ‘microgenerators’ including households, small communities and farmers.
The Bill would oblige suppliers to give a feed-in tariff to those that supply to the grid and therefore incentivise the further development of renewables.
Friends of the Earth’s Kate Ruddock said that
“If passed, it will be the law that anyone who generates power through microgeneration will be entitled to be paid for any electricity they do not use.
“In practice it will mean solar power, hydro power and small wind turbines will be viable on Irish farms and in Irish Communities all across the country.”
The Bill received support from all parties in the Dáil and has now been sent to Committee.
Finally the Waste Reduction Bill tabled by the Green Party was first launched in June 2017. It called for an outright ban on single-use non-recyclable plastics such as coffee cups and plastic cutlery by 2020.
The legislation also seeks to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for containers such as bottles and cans.
The government has opposed the Bill and stalled it over the course of 2018 but a new EU Directive on Single Use Plastics will surely make them change their approach.
The ranking of the Dublin government, for the second year in a row, as the worst performing in the EU for action on climate change is shameful indeed.
The state is well off track to meeting its 2050 decarbonisation target.
The Dublin government has the appearance of an administration that has to be dragged towards meeting its environmental commitments. However with legislation being passed through cross-party work at least there is momentum building.
In the north the Civil Service has just published the Outcomes Delivery Plan 2018-19 Mid-Year Report:
“Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) from Agriculture, Energy and Transport are all on the rise, and we have commissioned the Committee on Climate Change to complete a report on the options, strategies, measures and schemes that can be considered for us to reduce GHG emissions in the future.”
The draft Programme for Government targets in regard to the environment were quite unambitious so to see emissions rising when we need to be cutting back significantly is appalling.
Whats more depressing is that here in the north there is a lack of public debate on these issues or even the need for a basic Climate Change Bill.
Climate Change Deniers here are on the wane. Whats even more of a threat now are Climate Change Ignorers. Parties need to bring forward realistic policy proposals on how we are going to reduce emissions in the specific areas of agriculture, energy and transport. Otherwise, they form a significant part of the climate change problem that this island desperately needs to get to grips with.