Make Ireland’s climate law strong enough to work

Без имени-2The Government’s draft climate law is too weak to deliver the low carbon future it promises. Ireland’s emissions are among the highest in Europe and rising again. Last week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon urged Ireland to do more to tackle climate change when he said Ireland should “align its climate effort with its admirable engagement on hunger”.

Minister Alan Kelly has told the Dáil he is considering possible amendments to the draft law.

We need to make sure the changes aren’t just window dressing, that they actually make the law stronger, by clearly indicating how much we plan to reduce emissions by 2050, by ensuring that the independence of the Expert Advisory Council is explicitly guaranteed and by committing to climate justice as a guiding principle.

The Minister must also keep his promise to have the Bill through parliament and passed into law before the summer break. It’s almost three months since the draft law was first debated in the Dáil and we’re still waiting for the Government’s proposed changes. Time is ticking and the crucial UN summit in Paris is now less than six months away. Countries like Ireland, with high emissions and higher historical responsibility, have to demonstrate a credible commitment to climate action if we are to build the trust required for a global deal in Paris.

The only thing that has kept the Climate Bill on track to become law at all is the continuous pressure from campaigners like you. We need one last push to make it a climate law we can be proud of. Please sign the petition now and share it with your friends.

GEAI rejects decision to extent peat burning plants lifetime

Good Energies Alliance Ireland joins the Environmental Pillar in condemning the decision to extend the lifetime of two peat-burning power stations in the Midlands beyond the present agreement of ceasing operation in 2019. The stations are located in west Offaly and at Lough Ree. The decision to extend their operation was revealed a letter to Bord na Móna workers from the company’s chief executive Mike Quinn.

“The present generation of electricity by burning peat goes completely against Ireland’s requirement to reduce carbon emissions and choose renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels. Ireland’s energy generators do not seem to realise that business as usual is not an option any longer”, GEAI spokesperson Aedín McLoughlin said.

“This decision demonstrates clearly the result of not having definite targets in the current Climate Bill. There is no requirement on companies to meet the challenges of reducing our carbon emissions and no alternative plans put forward”, GEAI spokesperson stated.

Good Energies Alliance has advocated since its creation in 2012 for a transition towards a carbon neutral Ireland. “We have the solution at hand, we can power ourselves without endangering the planet. Ireland has a great potential for wind, solar energy and biomass power. We are a small country but we can become a great example for the rest of the world. Continuing to burn peat sends out all the wrong signals,” Aedín McLoughlin concluded.

Ireland deserves a better Climate Bill

Environmental-Damage-2

Ireland deserves a better Climate Action Bill to play its role in tackling climate change. The current Bill “will fail to deliver the low carbon future it aims to achieve unless critical weaknesses are addressed”, according to an independent report by environmental lawyers Client Earth.

Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) criticised the lack of ambition of the new bill since its publication in January. Now this independent analysis confirms that “the opportunity to lead the way towards a carbon neutral future has been thrown away”, GEAI director Aedín McLoughlin said. “There are no targets for lowering carbon emissions, not even a mention of the mandatory targets set by the EU. Neither is there commitment to contributing to the Global Climate Fund, a shame for Ireland.”

The report was commissioned by the Irish coalition Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) and also compares the Government’s Bill with climate legislation around Europe. The study finds that the lack of 2050 targets for carbon emissions produces critical uncertainty for investors and the status and membership of the Expert Advisory Council undermines its independence. Unless revised at Committee Stage in the Dáil, due this month, the Bill will do little to help Ireland meet its international commitments or move the economy onto a less polluting pathway.

Last September the Taoiseach Enda Kenny talked at the UN Climate Summit about “long terms objectives for 2050 of an 80% reduction across electricity, transport and built environment”. “Where are those targets now?” asks McLoughlin. “This Government  has failed to show commitment, imagination or leadership in the drafting of the Bill.”

Fracking is not the way to reduce Ireland’s energy imports

Drilling

Ireland imports 89% of the energy it consumes during a year according to the last data release by Eurostat and 98% of this is supplied by fossil fuels. It is the 4th highest energy importer in the EU, after Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus. Ireland’s high dependency on imported fossil fuels makes her vulnerable, because she has no control over her energy supply. Problems in other parts of the world can have a huge impact on Ireland.

However, drilling for local sources of gas or oil is the wrong answer. Using renewable energy sources, e.g. wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power, is the only way to reduce Ireland’s energy imports.

“We depend on fossil fuels to generate electricity, heat our homes and drive our cars. We need to change that and the right way is by generating energy from renewable sources”, said GEAI director Aedín McLoughlin. “Recent studies confirm that 80% of global fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground to stop climate change and keep conditions on Earth suitable for humans. Fracking is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem.”

“Business as usual is not an option, we need to reduce our energy use and move towards a low carbon economy”, the GEAI director remarked.

”We have the solution at hand, we can power ourselves without endangering the planet. Ireland has great potential for wind, solar energy and biomass power. We are a small country but we can become a great example for the rest of the world. Our politicians must rise to the challenge and transform the current dull Climate Action Bill by including targets that will contribute towards a low-carbon world.”

Climate Action Bill 2015 – All smoke, no fire?

Environmental-Damage-2“Transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by the end of 2050.” In the context of the climate crisis now confronting the earth, this is the ONLY aspiration of the Government in the Climate Action Bill 2015. There are no targets beyond the 2020 carbon reduction targets imposed on us by Europe. The opportunity to lead the way towards a truly significant and morally just pathway to a carbon neutral future has been thrown away.

Where is the echo of the Taoiseach’s commitment in New York at the UN Climate Summit last September, “We will only succeed in tackling climate change if we adopt a sustainable and truly collective approach, one that is ambitious but fair, that is challenging but achievable”?

Where are his “long-term objectives for 2050 of an 80 per cent reduction across electricity, transport and built environment”?

Where is the promise “We will continue our efforts, for example through our Origin Green Programme, to drive carbon efficiency and shape the international approach to sustainable agriculture and food production”?

This Government has failed to show commitment, imagination or leadership in the drafting of this Bill. Instead, they have kicked to touch, ensuring that no hard decisions on climate change or carbon emissions will be taken before the next election. Even after that, all that is proposed is the setting up of an Expert Advisory Council with the task of putting forward a Mitigation Plan and an Adaptation Plan in two years, bringing us post 2017 before the public can even consider their proposals or make submissions.

Has anyone in Government even considered that such Plans must undergo Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) and conform to the Aarhus Convention on public participation in decision-making? Is there no appreciation of the fact that business cannot go on as usual? How long in reality will it take to make tough decisions if no vision is put forward, no ambitious and exciting targets are proposed, no concept of climate justice is even mentioned?

The Government has missed a chance of rallying the Irish people around the cry of the earth in trouble. Instead they give us Expert Advisory Councils manned by the usual suspects; they give us Plans; they give us “Transition Statements”. We want action! Only yesterday, a leading climate scientist, Michael Mann said, “Ireland should make a bold statement to the world to show it is possible to thrive economically while making deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.”

Does this Climate Action Bill make a “bold statement”? No, it does not!

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