climate change

Draft National Mitigation Plan inadequate to tackle climate change, say environmental groups

26th April 2017

The Government’s long overdue draft National Mitigation Plan is almost wholly inadequate to meet the climate challenges ahead, according to Ireland’s leading environmental organisations.

The Environmental Pillar, together with Stop Climate Chaos, has outlined its findings on the draft Plan in a submission sent as part of a public consultation set to close today.

The joint submission finds that the proposed approach requires fundamental changes and states that a new plan should be brought forward urgently.

The groups find that the current draft Plan largely fails to meet obligations set in the Climate Act and the Paris Agreement. and EU targets, and will leave us facing increasing emissions increases up to, and beyond, 2050.

The submission comes in the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) latest emissions findings which states that it is  “unlikely” Ireland will meet 2020 and 2030 targets set by the European Union.  Ireland may face potential fines of up to €6 billion for non-compliance with our 2020 and 2030 targets.

“Cautious, bordering on defeatist”

While welcoming certain aspects of the draft, such as plans to prepare options for phasing out fossil fuels, Environmental Pillar spokesperson, Charles Stanley-Smith said that the tone of the Plan is “cautious, bordering on defeatist and gives a message that “climate action is undesirable, costly and disruptive to our current national development plans.”

“Ireland cannot afford to adopt a wait-and-see climate policy approach,” he added. “The draft Plan clearly shows that the Government’s plan is to put off action and investment now and instead knowingly expose Irish society to financial penalties that could be equivalent to the levels of spending cuts during the years of the financial Bailout.”

The submission also finds that the draft Plan does not adequately address key emissions drivers, namely energy production, transport and agriculture,  the economic importance of which must be balanced with reducing emissions according to the draft.

However, according to the submission, the Government should instead focus on the potential future costs of having to adapt to climate change impacts, such as flooding. The EPA estimates that costs could be anywhere from €80m to €800m per year.

According to the statement, there is no clear outline as to how and when objectives will be achieved to lead us into a carbon-neutral future. This contrasts sharply with recommendations from the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) to put a concrete policy framework in place to achieve 2020 and 2030 EU targets,[iii] and set a road map to reach Ireland’s self-declared 2050 national objective.

This contrasts sharply with recommendations from the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC) to put a concrete policy framework in place to achieve 2020 and 2030 EU targets, and set a road map to reach Ireland’s self-declared 2050 national objective.

F-rating

In this light, Oisin Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth Ireland said that the Plan needs to be “substantially redeveloped” to provide ambitious climate policy planning going forward. “After 6 years Enda Kenny’s Government has finally published a draft climate plan. But it’s so awful it’s embarrassing,” he added. “If Minister Naughten’s draft climate plan was a fridge-freezer it would get an F-rating.”

“It’s not really a plan at all; it reads like a discussion document. And it doesn’t actually adopt any new actions to reduce Ireland’s emissions.”

The joint submission outlines several policy recommendations for areas such as renewable energy, transport and agriculture and pushes for the establishment of a carbon budget with “detailed objectives and policy measures” set for a minimum of five years. The groups also recommend that the Government divest the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund of fossil fuel assets, phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and move away from coal and peat-fired energy production.

The groups also recommend that the Government divest the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund of fossil fuel assets, phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and move away from coal and peat-fired energy production.

The groups also recommend that the Government divest the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund of fossil fuel assets, phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and move away from coal and peat-fired energy production.

However, the groups contend that the Government prefers to focus on the past as the draft Plan indicates that Ireland’s 2020 emissions target is “misinformed” and puts Ireland’s failure to meet its short-term targets down to “reduced investment capacity” during the economic crash. Minister Naughten came to a similar conclusion in a recent op-ed piece in the Irish Times.

While the recession did create some investment restrictions, the submission says that this argument is “disingenuous” as there has been a complete failure in the post-recession era to develop policy measures to decouple resumed economic growth from increasing emissions.

About the Author

Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London

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