Children’s Rally for Climate Action Photo: Kayle Crosson

Ambition in Climate Bill “must be increased”

17 November 2020 

The ambition in the recently published Climate Bill must be increased, according to a coalition of over 40 civil society organisations. 

Stop Climate Chaos published their recommended amendments to the Bill and have additionally urged the Government to close the existing loopholes within the document. 

The demands were released the evening before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action held its first meeting today to discuss their recommendations to Minister Ryan on the Bill. 

Following testimony from expert witnesses, Stop Climate Chaos warned that a 2050 goal of climate neutrality is “far too late” and that the current draft of the Bill fails to reflect the fair share of effort required by rich countries under the Paris Agreement. 

The coalition is also calling for the inclusion of interim targets, for a definition of a “fair and safe emissions budget”, and for policies to be consistent with a Just Transition. 

“It is inexcusable that Just Transition was left out of the draft Bill,” Dr Ciara Murphy from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice said. 

“These principles should be embedded in the legal and regulatory framework established by the Bill, to guide the policy decisions that will ultimately be made under it,” she added. 

Nature-based solutions 

While the Bill is focused on climate action and emissions reduction, it must ensure that nature-based solutions to the climate crisis are included within the Bill itself and that “biodiversity is safeguarded,” according to Oonagh Duggan of BirdWatch Ireland. 

By incorporating appropriate definitions of biodiversity and nature-based solutions into the Bill, biodiversity protection can guide decision-making and ensure that “no part of Ireland becomes a ‘sacrifice zone’ as we implement climate mitigation”, she said. 

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action heard testimony last month that if the Bill fails to adequately consider biodiversity, it could reduce our ability to respond to future climate shocks. 

Professor of Zoology Yvonne Buckley warned that such shocks are coming down the road in twenty to thirty years and removing biodiversity from the system could result in the loss of resilient food systems. 

In the current draft of the Bill, the term biodiversity is mentioned just twice in its 54 pages. 

Alongside “ecosystem services”, it is also considered an area of expertise for a Climate Change Advisory Council member. 

The Committee will continue to meet to formulate its recommendations to Minister Eamon Ryan over the coming days and weeks. 

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Kayle Crosson