Fine Gael seeks to water down 2050 ambition in climate action report

Published by Niall Sargent on

March 24th, 2019

Fine Gael amendments to the special climate action committee’s much-awaited report look to water down recommendations for more ambitious 2050 emissions targets.

Overall, the latest draft of the report seen by The Green News is widely ambitious as the committee recognises that the “window of opportunity” to reduce emissions and avoid severe climate impacts is “rapidly closing”.

The report follows six months of scrutiny by the Committee members and contains over 40 priority recommendations across all sectors based on a wish list outlined by the Citizens’ Assembly.

A Fine Gael amendment seen by The Green News, however, seeks to remove the inclusion of a 2050 net zero emissions target in new climate legislation set to be recommended by the committee.

At present, the draft report recommends that new legislation should be introduced this year and include the strict 2050 target in line with the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Fine Gael’s amendment looks to replace this recommendation with a provision for “an ambitious 2050 target” outside of the legislation and based on advice from a new expert Climate Action Council.

To achieve net zero emissions by 2050, the draft report states that emissions – currently over 60 million tonnes – would need to fall by five to 10 per cent per year.

The proposed legislation will “provide a new legal framework for tackling climate change”, the draft report states, and ensure a “continuous climate policy” that transcends short-term electoral cycles.

The proposed legislation would also set ambitious climate and renewables targets and require five-year carbon budgets across all departments.

Fine Gael also wants to remove a line in the committee’s draft report that calls for the new legislation to include a requirement that all new policies and measures are made “subject of a climate change impact assessment”.

The ruling party wants to alter this line to state that the “Government should draw up a carbon/climate impact tool which would consider relevant policies” outside of the proposed legislation.

At present, the draft also calls for a “coherent all-of-Government approach” to deliver on the proposed climate action. Another Fine Gael amendment seeks to add a provision that this approach should be adopted “using a least cost pathway”.

Fine Gael was contacted by The Green News for comment on its proposed amendments but did not reply at the time of publication.

The amendments are set to be voted on in private session this Tuesday, with the committee to consider the report in public session on Wednesday afternoon.

Last week, The Green News reported that the party’s MEPs also voted against proposals to boost the EU’s 2030 emission reduction target to 55 per cent compared with 1990 levels.

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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