August 24th, 2018
Environmental, conservation and opposition groups have criticised Fine Gael’s environmental record following the announcement of their Green Week campaign.
The campaign, introduced on Monday, saw the Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD and several of his party colleagues appear on social media to increase public awareness of climate change and suggest ways to go green.
However, critics say that the Government is ignoring its own responsibilities as the country is falling far behind on national carbon emissions targets.
The Green Party Leader, Eamon Ryan, described the campaign as “laughable” and accused the governing party of “greenwashing”.
Mr Ryan said: “In one way, you have to admire Fine Gael’s brass neck to run a ‘Green Week’ environmental campaign, given their record in this area.”
Mr Ryan said that the Fine Gael-led government has failed on tackling climate change and environmental issues and that “a week-long spin campaign won’t change that”.
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) said they wished to remind the public of Fine Gael’s “atrocious environmental record” and that a week of social media messages is “no substitute for actual environmental policies”.
The IWT said that since coming to coming to power in 2011, Fine Gael has presided over significant agricultural expansion plans that have resulted in “ballooning greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and habitat loss”.
This week, Fine Gael is going green. Our climate is changing, so we are raising awareness about how you can be greener, what supports are available to you and why we need your help to tackle climate change. For more, visit: https://t.co/rud70TFc46 pic.twitter.com/b0RbwDKiZH
— Fine Gael (@FineGael) August 20, 2018
The conservation group also criticised the government’s role in the passing of the Heritage Bill that will allow for hedge-cutting and upland burning at a time when wildlife is at its most vulnerable.
The group were equally critical of a lack of investment in the National Parks and Wildlife Service, a lack of effort to end overfishing by 2020 and a failure to protect endangered species.
IWT Campaign Officer, Padraic Fogarty described Fine Gael as the party of “ecological ruin” and claimed that the Green Week campaign cannot “disguise the damage they have wrought on nature during their time in office.
“It is disgraceful that they think they can use their PR machine to weasel their way out of this shameful record,” he added.
Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton, Chair of a New Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, defended her party following the criticism.
“The 2020 targets will be a big challenge for us, but with €22bn – that’s €1 in every €5 – invested in tackling climate change I would be very hopeful that we could not only reach our 2030 targets but be leaders in this particular area,” she said.