New campaign calls for faster, fairer climate action from next Government

Published by Niall Sargent on

January 22nd, 2020

A new nationwide climate campaign launched today calling on general election candidates to ensure a faster and fairer route to climate leadership if they are elected to the next Dáil.

Launching this morning at an event at Sandymount Strand, the One Future Ireland campaign looks to push election candidates to ensure “faster and fairer climate action”.

The campaign is open to all civil society groups and individuals, with th Union of Students in Ireland, the National Women’s Council of Ireland and Concern among several groups that have already pledged their support.

The campaign will supply supporters with flyers and “public ask card” outlining key policy asks that they can hand to candidates when they come canvassing.

Policy asks include the delivery of annual emissions reductions of at least eight per cent per year on average over the lifetime of the new Government.

While ambitious in many areas, the Climate Action Plan launched by the Government last year would see a year-on-year emissions reduction of just over two per cent, well short of the 7.6 per cent cut needed every year for the next decade to meet the 1.5°C Paris target.

Key policy asks

The campaign also wants to see a legal commitment to a national net-zero target for the whole economy, as well as a revision of the legal mandates of key agencies such as Coillte and Teagasc to ensure that they function in line with Ireland’s climate and biodiversity obligations.

Substantial investment in public and active transport, including a chunk of funding for a rural transport programme, is another key policy aim, together with a deep retrofit programme for all local authority housing with an annual investment of €200 million.

The campaign is also calling for far greater support for community renewable energy schemes, including a nationwide programme that ensures every school is a solar school by 2025 and microgeneration support to “unleash a community energy revolution across the country”.

The next Government should ban the use of coal and peat for electricity generation by the end of next year, according to the campaign, together with bans on the issuing of new exploration licences for all fossil fuel exploration in Irish waters and the importation of fracked gas into Ireland.

Last year, the Government banned the issuance of future oil exploration licences but gas licences are still up for grabs. In addition, current oil exploration licences will remain active.

The campaign is also calling for agricultural, forestry and peatland policy that is in line with climate and biodiversity objectives, including support to reform the Common Agricultural Policy to reward farmers for close-to-nature farming practices.

In terms of biodiversity protection, the campaign also wants to see all parties commit to a Citizens’ Assembly to address biodiversity loss and a reversal in cuts to the under-resourced National Parks and Wildlife Service, calling for €100 million funding in 2021.

Ceara Carney and Louis Heath of XR Ireland Photo: Gary O'Neill
Ceara Carney and Louis Heath of XR Ireland Photo: Gary O’Neill

Canvass for the climate

The campaign also launched a #Canvass4Climate pack that supporters can download to help them to organise door-to-door canvassing in their local areas to encourage people to raise climate concerns with candidates.

This coming Friday, the campaign will hold a “reverse canvass” to present their policy asks at the offices of the two largest parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fail just off Merrion Square in the capital.

On 1 February, the last Saturday before voting, the campaign plans to hold a nationwide “reverse canvass” day, asking supporters to approach their candidates and present them with the policy ask cards.

Speaking at today’s launch, One Future spokesperson Oisin Coghlan said that the campaign aims “to turn the tables on election candidates” and empower people to challenge politicians on their climate ambition.

“Every party is paying lip service to climate action in this election. One Future will help people test whether politicians are promising to do enough and whether they are promising to make sure what they do is fair,” he said

“Climate action is not a trade off with better public services. Climate action is about better public services… in the shape of warmer homes, better bus, train, cycling and walking infrastructure, and opportunities to share in the ownership of the energy system.”

Extinction Rebellion Ireland (XRI) is also canvassing the public across the country, asking citizens if they are concerned about the climate and listening to their concerns.

In a newsletter sent followers this week, the group made it clear that it is not canvassing on behalf of any party but “on behalf of the planet”. 

The group has also developed an election canvassing pack and a beginner’s guide to canvassing for climate in order to guide its members.

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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