June 18th, 2019
The Government’s new climate plan released yesterday has been largely welcomed while also receiving criticism from opposition parties for its vague policy indicators in several key emissions areas.
The Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Breakdown contains 180 actions to gain Ireland a ‘more sustainable future’ in areas such as transport, electricity, waste and agriculture.
Deputy Catherine Murphy of the Social Democrats said that the plan, however, leaves a “glaring gap” by not prioritising funding for public transport.
“Without substantially increased investment in public transport, there is no hope of delivering on the targets in the plan,” she added.
The report put a heavy emphasis on getting close to one million electric cars on the roads by 2030, a difficult measure to achieve given poor uptake rates to date and issues with the charging infrastructure.
“In every other country, radical changes to the public transport model are crucial parts of tackling climate change and building sustainable communities,” Ms Murphy said.
The Green Party largely welcomed the plan, but the party’s leader Eamon Ryan TD lamented the fact that there is a “real lack of clarity, ambition and urgency” with the plan in many key areas.
Mr Ryan said that the Government is “fudging” the 2050 net-zero target but outlining plans to examine how to become carbon neutral by mid-century instead of committing to the target now.
Mr Ryan said that that words “consideration will be given” appear 67 times throughout the plan showing a lack of certainty from the Cabinet.
“The question I would have for the Government is where is the change in the budget going to come from? Where is the change in the National Development Plan that would actually deliver a real low-carbon future?” he said.
People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith described the plan as “an elaborate PR exercise” which lacked any ambition and failed to face the reality climate breakdown.
Ms Smith came down hard on the plan as she said that it places the burden on ordinary people rather than holding large polluting corporations to account. She also said that it will leave fossil fuel corporations free to explore for more sources of carbon off Irish coasts.
“The plan is not close to what we need if we accept we have a Climate Emergency – it is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. This might have sounded progressive 30 years ago, now it’s simply insulting to the climate movement,” she said.
During a hearing of the Budgetary Oversight Committee today, Fianna Fail’s Lisa Chambers said that the Plan is “short on detail” and was alarmed that “we don’t know how much it will cost”.
Ms Chambers, said that publishing a plan without knowledge of costings and how it would be implemented is “utterly ridiculous”. She also raised the issue of “quarterly reporting” on how the plan is being delivered.
“How can you report on delivering a plan if you don’t know how you’re going to deliver it, what your timeline is for delivery is, and how much it’s going to cost?” she said.
The Climate Action Plan is to be funded through Ireland 2040 which has €30 billion allocated to it in total.
However, the Department could not specify today how much money schemes like the Diesel Scrappage Scheme outlined in the plan would cost.
Frank Maughan of the Department of Climate Action (DCCAE) did not directly answer when questioned about costings of the plan during the hearing.
Ms Chambers replied that “these are questions you and your team should be able to answer”.
by Marianne Foody