Dail to debate climate emergency motion today

Published by Kayle Crosson on

May 9th, 2019

The Dáil is set to debate a motion this evening calling on the Government to declare a national climate emergency.

The motion to accept and endorse the recommendations in the new landmark report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action was amended by the Green Party to include a call for a national declaration of a climate emergency.

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan said that there is now a real opportunity for the political system to “recognise the scale of the challenge” and commit to begin taking the steps “needed to turn the ship around”.

“That change begins with accepting the reality that this is an emergency; while there is still denial in the Dáil and Government, Ireland won’t make the leap we know we have to,” Mr Ryan added.

Ireland remains way off track to meet its 2020 and 2030 climate targets according to the latest EPA data and has been singled out as the worst performing country in Europe for addressing climate change.

The motion comes in the wake of last weekend’s protest in both Dublin and Cork that called on the Government to declare a climate emergency – a key demand of both the school strikes movement and Extinction Rebellion.

Scotland, Wales, and Westminster officially declared climate emergencies in the past few weeks. Wicklow became the first county in Ireland to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency last week.

Extinction Rebellion Ireland protest Photo: Niall Sargent

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition sent a letter to all TDs this morning urging them to support the motion.

The letter calls on them to “demand that the Government incorporates the full suite” of recommendations in the Oireachtas report in forthcoming climate change policy.

The civil society coalition also called on politicians to ensure the preparation for our first carbon budget are carried out within 12 months as proposed and to urgently bring legislation to incorporate new national targets into law.

“This is the Dáil’s opportunity to rise the challenge climate change and represent the public’s increasing desire for urgent action,” said Oisín Coghlan, coordinator of SCC.

“Declaring a Climate Emergency is a rationale response to the threat level and our failure so far to stem the pollution poisoning our life support system on Earth, our only home,” he added.

“Accepting and endorsing the report of the Joint Committee on Climate Action is a good first response to that emergency.”

Image by NiklasPntk from Pixabay
Image by NiklasPntk from Pixabay

Species in decline globally

Calls for the state to also declare an ecological emergency have risen in recent months.

On Monday, a UN-backed report found one million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction and declining at rates unprecedented in human history.

Additionally, a report from the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London released last October found that 60 percent of the world’s large animals had disappeared since the 1970s.

Around one-third of Ireland’s 98 wild bee species are threatened with extinction, while recent findings show that over 60 per cent of the 202 species of commonly occurring birds in Ireland is now on the red and amber conservation lists.

Over 90 percent of 58 listed habitats in Ireland also have an ‘inadequate’ or ‘bad’ status and just over half of the 61 European protected species in Ireland have a ‘favourable’ conservation status.

“We have lost half our wildlife in the last fifty years and are witnessing an unprecedented climate and biodiversity emergency unfolding across the globe,” according to Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan.

“The government needs to stand up and commit to working to protect our children’s future by shouldering the responsibility and delivering system change now,” Ms O’Sullivan continued.

Ciaran Ciuffe, Green Party, at MEP Elections Debate Photo: Niall Sargent
Ciaran Ciuffe, Green Party, at MEP Elections Debate Photo: Niall Sargent

European Manifesto

The Green Party is set to unveil its European manifesto today in the lead-up to MEP elections at the end of the month.

The manifesto calls for new European climate law with binding carbon budgets to reduce emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030.

The document stressed that such a process must include the restoration of natural carbon sinks in forests and soils.

Also included in the manifesto is a call for the phase-out of coal and other fossil fuels, including gas, by 2030 and the taxation or banning of non-recyclable plastics.

In relation to transport, the Green Party proposes banning the sale of fossil-fuel cars in Europe after 2030 and the creation of low-emission zones in European cities and towns.

The document also calls for the redirection of air travel subsidies to sustainable transport through the introduction of a European flight tax, European value-added tax on tickets as well as bringing an end to the kerosene tax exemption for planes.

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Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.