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17th June 2019 | Biodiversity, Climate Change

Climate Action Plan Lacks System Change Needed to Tackle Crisis – Greens

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The Green Party today welcomed the all-of-Government Climate Action Plan but said it lacks the significant system change required to truly tackle the climate crisis. The Party said the plan lacks ambition and detail, highlighting a number of key areas including public transport, the government’s National Development Plan, and land-use.

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan TD: “We welcome the plan. We welcome the fact that this issue has moved up the political agenda. We welcome the fact that the work and influence of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action can be seen throughout the document, and the fact that the Citizen’s Assembly helped set that up. However, there is still a real lack of clarity, ambition, and urgency.”

Deputy Ryan listed three specific examples where the Action Plan falls short: “Firstly, one of the things that was in our Joint Oireachtas Committee report was the need for a commitment to go carbon zero by 2050. The government are fudging that. They’re saying we’ll agree if Europe agrees, but I think we should have the ambition to set that goal ourselveslike the British government did last week. That would make a real difference.

“Secondly, the National Development Plan had no climate impact assessment, and that has to change if we’re going to take climate change seriously. We can’t continue with a plan that is all about roads and doesn’t really tackle climate change. 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? Show us the money!

“Thirdly, we need a new land use plan. We need to plan out where the forestry is going to go. What type of forestry it is going to be. Which bogs are we going to preserve? What type of farming and where? This report talks a lot about consideration. Consideration is good, but we now need commitment and certainty: we’re going to get a land use plan, and out of that we’re going to transform Irish agriculture and forestry. It’s important to remember that we have a biodiversity crisis as well as a climate crisis, and a comprehensive land-use plan would allow us to tackle both of these problems.”

Green Party MEP for Dublin Ciarán Cuffe: “This is business as usual with green sprinkles on top. A government that is truly committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions would bring all council homes up to an A-energy rating, lower public transport fares, and increase the public transport fleet. If Fine Gael persist in backing additional capacity at Dublin Airport and building the Galway Outer Orbital road then their commitment to tackling climate change must be questioned.”

Green Party Representative for Dublin South East Inner City Cllr Claire Byrne: “There are some interesting proposals in the plan as far as towns and cities are concerned, but having recently helped negotiate a climate action plan for Dublin City I would argue that our own plan is much more ambitious. As Greens, we would like to see cities that are more friendly towards cyclists, pedestrians, and children, and it’s difficult to see how the government’s action plan today will provide for that.”

Green Party Spokesperson for Climate Cllr David Healy: “I think it’s important to look at the plan in an overall sense, and what is very positive is that it recognises the need for a transition. It does acknowledge that there are large changes to be made, but when you drill down into the detail, those changes aren’t there. So, what we have is a series of marginal changes – small, technical options, as opposed to the larger systemic change needed in areas such as transport and agriculture. Systemic changes are only discussed in terms of future plans. For example, for rural public transport, the strategy is to produce a strategy. When it comes to the bogs there is a lot of discussion of looking at the potential for reducing emissions from the degraded peatlands, but there’s no actual plan to make the necessary investments in retaining the carbon in our soils across the countryside.”