Additional weekend announced for Citizens’ Assembly on climate change

Published by Niall Sargent on

July 27th, 2017

The Chair of the Citizens’ Assembly has called for an additional weekend to “truly do justice” to the complicated question of how Ireland can lead in tackling climate change.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said that the decision will allow the Assembly to fully consider one of the “most complex topics facing Irish society” and enhance future recommendations.

“In order to do truly do justice to this topic, we must consider areas such as energy, transport and agriculture,” she said. “For that reason, I concluded that an additional weekend would be necessary to give this topic due consideration.”

The Assembly members – 99 randomly selected citizens representing the Irish electorate – will now meet on the weekends of 30 September 2017 and 4 November 2017.

The conclusions and recommendations of the Assembly will be turned into a report to be presented to the Houses of the Oireachtas for further debate.

Justice Laffoy is urging members of the public, representative groups and citizen organisations to make a submission to the Assembly before the deadline of Friday, 11 August 2017.

“Climate change will affect us all and we want to hear from as many people as possible to make the best possible use of the Assembly’s time on this important topic,” she said.

She said that climate change poses challenges for societies “right across the world” and all decisions to “lead or to step back” from the issue will be watched closely internationally.

“[Climate Change] is a global talking point right now, therefore it is timely for us to be participating in this discussion,” she said.

The September meeting will hear from Pat Gilroy, Chair of the newly formed advisory group on the National Dialogue on Climate Change (NDCC).

The NDCC’s goal is to ensure inclusive engagement and consensus building across society in moving Ireland toward a low carbon and climate-resilient future.

Justice Laffoy said that she welcomes the chance for the Assembly to “dovetail” with the NDCC’s work and feed into the engagement with the wider public on climate change.

Members of the NDCC were announced by the Climate Minister Denis Naughten last week to coincide with the release of the National Mitigation Plan.

The long-awaited Plan sets out 106 distinct actions to be taken by the Government to cut emissions in a range of areas including electricity generation, transport, agriculture, and forestry.

The Plan has also been met with widespread criticism from environmental organisations for its lack of ambition or meaningful targets.

The Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC), Professor John FitzGerald, yesterday said that the Plan lacks a “framework for policy prioritisation” and that Ireland will not achieve our national transition objective by 2050 in the absence of additional policy action.


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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