Civil society calls for greater climate action as State prepares for COP25

Published by Niall Sargent on

November 6th, 2019

Civil society groups have called on the State to support increase EU climate ambition and to ensure greater commitment for international climate finance at next month’s UN Climate Change Conference in Spain.

Speaking before the Joint Committee on Climate Action this afternoon, representatives from Trócaire, Friends of the Earth Ireland, and Christian Aid said that we need to up our game after failing to support increased climate ambition at previous climate conferences.

The 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) will take place in Madrid, Spain between 2- 13 December following civil unrest in the original host country Chile.

Jennifer Higgins, a policy advisor with Christian Aid Ireland, said it is “vital” that the upcoming conference is used as an “opportunity to improve Ireland’s poor record on climate finance” to date.

Ireland is falling short of doing its “fair share” to support the global international climate finance effort, she added, giving far less annually than many European neighbours.

“Ensuring results in a just and viable future for the world’s poorest people demands a dramatic increase in Ireland’s domestic mitigation action, and a swift and steady increase in the financial support to those countries who bear the greatest impact,” she added.

While Ireland is generally well-respected within the UN for supporting the world’s least developed countries, Cliona Sharkey of Trócaire said that we still need to put a plan in place about how we will meet our “growing responsibility on the international climate finance side”.

“In its statement at COP25, the Government should clearly acknowledge its own role and responsibility in guiding global and domestic climate action, its intention to enhance short term domestic ambition… and its support for an increase in the EU’s 2030 climate and energy target,” she added.

Sir David Attenborough COP24 Photo: UNFCCC
Sir David Attenborough COP24 Photo: UNFCCC

One of Ireland’s leading climatologists, Professor John Sweeney, who was also speaking at the hearing, noted Ireland’s historical failure at previous COPs to step-up its climate ambition.

“Ireland will exceed its annual emissions allocation for the third consecutive year, and it is highly likely that Ireland will be identified again as a climate laggard at COP25.

“To maintain the goals of the Paris Agreement will thus entail more stringent reduction requirements than before,” he warned.

Oisín Coghlan, director with Friends of the Earth, said that it is essential that Ireland significantly step up action over the next decade to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement. 

To put Ireland on the right path, Mr. Coghlan called on the Government to deliver governance reforms promised in the all-of-government Climate Action Plan without delay.

“The Committee on Climate Action recommended that the new climate law be passed by the end of 2019, by way of amendments to the 2015 Climate Act. That is only six weeks away in parliamentary time and nothing has happened yet.”

Mr Coghlan also pointed out that Ireland must also provide a detailed long-term strategy to the European Commission in January 2020, outlining how it intends to put Ireland on a pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050.

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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