Department of Climate: amendments not a fundamental change to Bill

Published by Kayle Crosson on

13 July 2021 

A spokesperson for the Minister of the Environment, Climate and Communications has said that recent amendments are not “fundamental changes” to the Climate Bill. 

In a statement to The Green News, a spokesperson for Minister Eamon Ryan said the new amendments brought forward by the Seanad on Friday will, according to their statement, “provide clarity on how the carbon accounting systems will be developed”.

“Most importantly, the regulations must be set within the overall framework of the Bill, and must be consistent with the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Land use is accounted for in a specific way under existing national, European and UN accounting rules and the regulations will take these into account,” the spokesperson added. 

Yesterday Professor John Sweeney warned that the newest addition of Seanad amendments had “taken the guts out of the Climate Bill and destroyed the principles under which it was established” and that they had “undermined the scientific basis of any Climate Bill”. 

These amendments that were proposed and passed by the Government last Friday in the Seanad included those which say the Government shall make regulations for determining how greenhouse gas emissions are taken into account and the manner in which they are calculated. 

The proposed changes are now set to go to the Dáil tomorrow evening and will either be rejected or accepted by TDs. 

The amendments are “not just telling the Climate Change Advisory Council what emission reduction they need to aim for in 2030, they’re also interfering in the how”, according to Independent Senator Alice-Mary Higgins. 

“This is creating a concern. It will create – at the minimum – a tension for the Climate Change Advisory Council where they are on one level meant to be consistent with international best practice, but on another level they’re being told to comply with Government regulations. 

“There’s no guarantee that these regulations will be saying the same thing as international best practice,” she told The Green News. 

The tension is “unnecessary” and if the Government does want to add in regulations on removals they can do so at a later point with proper oversight, Senator Higgins continued. 

“The Government should let the Bill go through without these amendments,” she added. 

A “serious doubt has been raised” 

The Stop Climate Chaos Coalition has written to Minister Ryan and urged him to clarify why the amendments were introduced last Friday and what they mean for “the integrity of the carbon budgeting mechanism in the Climate Bill and the independence of the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC).” 

“A serious doubt has been raised as to whether the intent of the proposed amendments to provide for the possibility of excluding a particular greenhouse gas, or to facilitate an entirely new metric or target for methane in response to lobbying from the agrifood industry,” Stop Climate Chaos Coalition Policy Coordinator Sadhbh O’Neill told The Green News. 

“The perception has been created that ‘removals’ will permit vast amounts of soil carbon to be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector. In reality, there is no significant soil carbon sequestered by agricultural soils and Ireland is actually a net emitter from land use,” according to Ms. O’Neill. 

“We hope the Climate Bill can be passed without much further delay but we’re urging the Minister to address our concerns, as set out in a letter we have written to him, before the Dáil debates the Bill on Wednesday evening,” she added. 

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