June 18, 2020

Coalition agreement will put Ireland in stronger position claims climate director

Climate Action in Ireland

A leading representative in the climate transition in Ireland has stated that the coalition deal represents the best option to efficiently tackle carbon emissions.  Oisín Coghlan, the director of Friends of the Earth believes there is no alternative strategy capable of delivering a quicker and fairer approach towards climate action. 

Mr Coghlan believes that the climate movement in Ireland has never been stronger and the three parties together have the potential to introduce policies capable of reducing emissions significantly. Mr Coghlan admits the government programme is not perfect but has the potential to put Ireland on the right track towards reaching the targets set in the Paris Agreement. Committing to reaching an average 7% reduction in emissions is a bold move and will require a supportive climate policy that will specifically limit pollution levels across all industries. 

The director highlights that the government programme is supportive of transport, property and renewables, with clear actions towards community energy and solar projects, but lacks solid measures concerning agricultural pollution and coal and peat consumption for electricity.

Climate change coalition ‘Stop Climate Chaos’ has voiced their support for the programme, stating it is a significant sign of progress in climate policy in Ireland. Stop Climate Chaos consists of an extended coalition of climate, environmental and charity organisations, gaining support from a large number of green party representatives.

Sadhbh O’Neill of Stop Climate Chaos states that it is critical that the planned climate change amendment bill receives support and is moved as quickly as possible so carbon budgets for future periods can be adopted before the end of the year. O’Neill believes this should be viewed as a top priority in tackling emissions reductions relatively quickly. The proposed climate legislation will enhance scientific support for climate policies by incorporating climate scientists and the inclusion of gender balance within the Climate Change Advisory Council. O’Neill believes this is essential in delivering carbon budgets for all sectors.

The climate action plans were not welcomed by all with leading Climatologist, Professor John Sweeney of Maynooth University saying that focusing on climate actions on future years rather than the lifetime of the proposed government was not in the best interests of the nation. Sweeney believes that a lot of initial work was effectively being delayed to 2025 onwards, essentially passing this work on to the next government. In this instance, if reductions in emissions were not met, it may result in stricter enforced actions on customers, such as a rise in carbon taxes, climate quotas and certain rulings on diesel and petrol vehicles.

Sweeney emphasises if new policies were incorporated and implemented into government plans they would generate greater impacts and could accelerate Ireland’s position in tackling climate change. What is required now is more clarity on the plans for the oncoming period between 2020-2025 and the subsequent period after. Agriculture should be viewed as a priority and enable farmers to understand and adopt government plans as quickly as possible. This includes a fund of 1.5 billion euros raised from carbon taxes, expansion to the Rural Environment Protection Scheme and improved support towards biodiversity protection.