Eamon Ryan: new US climate pledge matches “Ireland’s increased ambition”

22 April 2021 

The United States’ new climate pledge “aligns with Ireland’s increased ambition” in the recently revised Climate Bill, the Minister for Climate Action said today.

Speaking at US President Joe Biden’s Climate Summit, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan welcomed the pledge from the White House to halve national greenhouse gas emissions by the end of decade and to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

The United States is the world’s largest historical emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, producing roughly a quarter of total global emissions to date while having roughly 4 per cent of the population. 

The 51 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 compared to 2018 levels proposed in the Irish Climate Bill also represented “some of the most ambitious of any developed country”, Minister Ryan added. 

Speaking at the Earth Day summit session on climate adaptation and resilience, Minister Ryan also said that adaptation was a “key focus of Ireland’s agriculture policy” and that the Irish government realised that “producing more food while at the same time combating climate change is one of the most important policy changes we face both nationally and internationally.” 

“Climate solutions here at home need to support adaptation and resilience for family farms,” he said.

To date, agriculture is Ireland’s largest emitting sector, contributing over a third of total greenhouse gas emissions.

It is also responsible for 99 per cent of ammonia emissions and is one of the main pressures on water bodies, according to the EPA

Criticism of the Bill 

The Climate Bill went before the Dail yesterday to begin its second stage, and was a piece of legislation that would symbolise “the protection of the Irish family farm,” according to Minister Ryan. 

Opposition TDs listed a number of criticisms however of the Bill, including members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action (JOCCA). 

Sinn Fein TD Darren O’Rourke noted that the document had benefited from pre-legislative scrutiny, but stressed than amendments around Just Transition and fracked gas would need to be proposed. 

Deputy Brid Smith of People before Profit found that the Bill was not fit “for the crisis we face” and that it did not represent “a good first step” in addressing the climate emergency. 

Jennifer Whitmore TD from the Social Democrats also shared Deputy Smith’s judgment of the Bill being insufficient. 

“Climate change and biodiversity loss does not care for compromise. Compromise is what got us here in the first place. It’s time we pick up the pace,” she said. 

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Kayle Crosson