Citizens’ Assembly to start a ‘new national dialogue’ on climate change

Published by Niall Sargent on

August 23rd, 2017

The Citizens’ Assembly can help to start a “new national dialogue” on how we tackle climate change, the leader of the Green Party said today.

Speaking after the publication of the party’s submission to the Assembly upcoming session on climate change, Deputy Eamon Ryan, TD, said that the Assembly will bring communities and the State together in taking necessary climate action.

In their submission, the Green Party state that addressing climate change now will protect the Irish economy from international economic shocks, create a fairer society, and protect Ireland’s natural environment.

The Assembly, which is comprised of 99 randomly selected Irish citizens, was formed in 2016 to consult and make recommendations to government on key issues in Irish society.

The Assembly will discuss climate change when it next meets on September 30th and, following the second weekend of debate will vote on recommendations to Government on November 5th.

Mr Ryan said that the Government has failed to show “real climate ambition” to date. He called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to show “progressive leadership on climate change” by turning Ireland into a new low carbon society.

“Ireland is not rich in the materials that drove the fossil fuel economy, but we have the right resources for a new green economy,” Mr Ryan added. “Tackling climate change can help us build secure local industries as we manage these natural resources… It can be a win win-win transition.”

To date, the Assembly has received over 1,200 submissions from the public, as well as environmental and civil society coalitions, farming groups and politicians ahead of its session on tackling climate change.

Prominent organisations within the Irish environmental sector made submissions, as well as many individual citizens. While the submissions offer a wide range of opinions on actions that Ireland could take to tackle climate change, most conform to a broad consensus that urgent action must be taken.

The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of 26 national environmental organisations, said in its submission that the Assembly must call for a referendum to give a constitutional right to environmental protection to the people of Ireland.

The Pillar said that the Assembly offered “a unique moment for the people of Ireland to decide the basis for a framework that reflects the significance of climate change and its impacts”.

Stop Climate Chaos, a coalition of 33 organisations, also made a joint submission with the Environmental Pillar recommending eighteen actions on climate change in Ireland that would “bring the years of inaction to an end, move Ireland to the level of most of our EU partners, and take a leadership role in certain areas”.

Actions include setting an end date for peat burning and coal-fired electricity generation, putting concrete support in place for small-scale community renewable projects, and providing significant funding for deep retrofitting of Ireland’s housing stock.

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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