Oireachtas to set up special joint committee on climate action

Published by Manus Boyle on

July 4th, 2018

Politicians have expressed their support for the setting up of a Special Joint Committee to look into climate change and State action to tackle the issue.

A motion brought yesterday by the Minister for Climate Action, Denis Naughten, TD called for the setting up of the committee to take into account the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly.

The 17 final recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly are included in its report on How the State Can make Ireland a Leader in Climate Action and includes the need to set up a dedicated committee on climate action.

Mr Naughten said that the Joint Committee will be made up of a maximum of 16 members, five appointed by the Government and the rest from opposition parties.

The Committee will report its conclusions and recommendations to both Houses of the Oireachtas before the end of January 2019, the Minister added.

EPA emissions report

Eamon Ryan said that Ireland’s reputation on environmental issues “is in the doghouse” Photo: Green Party

Opposition sceptical of Government record

While opposition parties supported the motion they outlined criticism of the Government’s failure to meet climate targets to date.

report from Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe recently ranked Ireland as the second worst EU country in tackling climate change.

Fianna Fáil Deputy Timmy Dooley said that he “wholeheartedly” supported the call for a joint committee, but urged the Government to set short-term targets for the next two to three years to address climate change.

Ireland’s short-term 2020 target is to reduce the greenhouse gases emissions by 20 per cent compared to 2005 levels, however, the Environmental Protection Agency projects that we will only achieve a one per cent reduction.

Mr Dooley said that the Government are “way behind” on their climate targets and must take action now, “not in 2030 or 2040”.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said that Ireland’s reputation on environmental issues “is in the doghouse” and that he was “sorry for insulting dogs”.

“We are not bad at dealing with climate. We are itching to be good at this. The thing that is holding us back is the lack of political will,” he added.

Minister Denis Naughten will attend the Council meeting tomorrow Photo: Environment Ireland

Minister defends record

Mr Naughten defended the State’s efforts to address climate targets, adding that Ireland has “one of the most ambitious plans in the EU” to achieve long-term climate goals.

“One in every five euro in capital investment this Government will spend over the next decade will have a climate focus. That is significant. It is significant in European and global terms,” he added.

The State will spend €4 billion on energy efficiency upgrades, take “dirty fossil fuels” out of our heating systems and help Ireland to become the first EU country to ban the sale of new fossil fuel cars from 2030, he added.

Independent TD Danny-Healy Rae said that the Committee will simply be a “talking shop.” He argued that the Government should find other ways to tackle climate change “without pointing your finger at the farmers”.

The Citizens Assembly has called for the State to introduce a carbon price signal for agriculture in the form of a tax on excessive emissions and/or a subsidy to reward farmers who move to sequester additional carbon on their land.

The Assembly agreed that any revenue raised through a carbon tax should go toward supporting “climate-friendly agricultural practice”.

The Assembly also voted in favour of a recommendation to review and revise supports for land use diversification, in particular, for planting forests and encouraging organic farming.

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Manus Boyle

Manus is an MA Journalism student at DCU. He has an interest in the environment, the outdoors and live music.