Ireland to raise climate ambition, says Bruton

Ireland will raise the ambition of its climate action efforts in line with a global coalition, the Minister for Climate Action said during his speech at COP25 today.

Speaking in Madrid at the climate conference this morning, Richard Bruton committed Ireland to join the Carbon Neutrality Coalition to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century. 

Mr Bruton stressed that Ireland is “determined to play its part” in addressing climate disruption, adding that the new Climate Action Plan will put the State “on a trajectory to be net-zero” by 2050. 

Mr Bruton cited the 2020 Budget as evidence of Ireland’s commitment to climate action and stressed that the state must “catch this historic tide in the affairs of mankind”. 

Despite Mr Bruton’s strong words this morning, the data shows that Ireland continues to lag in its climate commitments, with the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index singling Ireland out as one of the EU’s worst climate performers for the third year in a row.

Although Ireland has improved in relation to renewable energy, governance and commitment to fortified EU-wide emissions targets, the Index still placed Ireland at 41st out of 57 countries examined in the study based primarily on a comparison of 2017 data.

The Index cites aspects of the Climate Action Plan are “positive” policy moves if enacted without delay, namely a legally binding 2050 target and five-year carbon budgets.

Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton at stakeholder meeting Photo: Niall Sargent

Enthusiasm must turn to action

The plan, however, will likely see emissions fall by two per cent per year, substantially lower than the UN recommendation of seven per cent needed to stay within 1.5 degrees of warming. 

“We need the enthusiasm in Minister Bruton’s speech to translate into concrete and ambition climate action,” according to Jennifer Higgins of Christian Aid Ireland.

“We’ve learnt nothing new in terms of Ireland’s planned response to the climate crisis and the existing Climate Action Plan still places Ireland as a low performer in the EU,” added Ms Higgins, who is currently in Madrid for the climate conference.  

Mr Bruton also announced that Ireland will double its annual commitment to the Green Climate Fund that helps developing countries transition to low-carbon economies. Ms Higgins said, however, that the State should be doing far more to “fairly contribute to efforts to prevent catastrophic global warming”.

Speaking to The Green News, Trócaire‘s Cliona Sharkey concurred, stressing that the proposed level of funding “still leaves Ireland well short of the financial support it owes to developing countries given the State’s disproportionately high rate of emissions”. 

A new report from Christian Aid and Trócaire released this month found that Ireland’s contribution to funding climate projects in developing countries must, in fact, increase six-fold if we are to appropriately pay our way in the global effort to tackle climate breakdown.

Ms Sharkey welcomed Mr Bruton’s endorsement of the Commission’s Green New Deal launched today to set more ambitious climate goals for the bloc but questioned why the State is also hesitant to join other EU states in calling for stronger 2030 emissions targets.

Responding to Mr Bruton’s comments on the climate action funding included in Budget 2020, Ciara Murphy of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice said that the funding allocations actually “failed to deliver” adequate support for real climate solutions, “even overlooking simple adaptations such as cycling infrastructure”. 

“Fine words about civilization, creativity and collaboration are easily proclaimed. But taking those words seriously means real and decisive action now,” she added. “Even after the publication of the Climate Action Plan, we remain laggards.” 

About the Author

Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.

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