May 8th, 2019
Ireland is not among the eight EU countries who have signed a statement calling for the bloc to make climate action a priority in future European policy.
The coalition of signatories – Belgium, France, Denmark, Portugal, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden – have urged the EU to cut emissions to net zero by 2050 and scale up emission cuts by 2030.
This comes ahead of the Future of Europe summit on 9 May in Sibiu, Romania – a meeting that will see the heads of the Member States discuss the strategic agenda for 2019-2024.
Due to the recent mass citizen protests and demands for political action, the EU summit aims to put climate change at the centre of the discussion.
Signatories have also demanded that at least 25 per cent of the EU budget is spent on projects to fight climate change.
A spokesperson for the Department of Climate Action said that the government’s imminent cross-departmental climate plan will “step up Ireland’s response to climate change’’ and “reduce emissions to ensure we meet our goals’’.
Wendel Trio of the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said that the recent surge in public protests is one of the factors “forcing European leaders’’ to “finally recognise the urgency needed to combat the climate crisis’’.
An agreement on achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and increasing 2030 goals needs to be reached at the June European Council summit, the last meeting before the UN Secretary General Climate Summit in September 2019.
At this stage in September, all EU countries are expected to propose new commitments for climate action as requested by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
The laggard of Europe
This is not the first time that Ireland has opted not to sign a document calling for greater climate action. In December 2018, Ireland did not join with other EU states in signing a letter calling on the European Commission to support a target to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.
As well as this, Ireland was the only country in Western Europe not to sign a similar Green Growth Group (GGG) letter in June 2018. The letter was issued during the Environment Council in June 2018, setting out priorities for the forthcoming EU long-term strategy and climate ambition
Ireland ranked second last in the Climate Action Network’s (CAN) ambition and progress chart for 2018. Due to these combined factors, Klaus Röhrig, climate and energy policy coordinator with CAN Europe said that when it comes to climate, Ireland “cannot be considered a progressive country’’.
By Marianne Foody