25th November 2020 | Environment, Press Releases

EPA REPORT – Ministers say Greens in government can turn crisis around

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Green Party Ministers Eamon Ryan, Pippa Hackett and Malcolm Noonan have said the Green Party in government will rise to the challenge of improving Ireland’s environment. Having delivered the most ambitious Programme for Government ever on climate action and biodiversity, Green ministers have already begun implementing the dramatic policy shifts they know will be needed to turn the crisis around. Published today, the Environmental Protection Agency’s State of the Environment Report highlights the urgent need for climate action and an environmental policy that includes all areas of society.

Responding to the publication of the report, Minister for Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan TD said: “Today’s assessment by the EPA of the state of our environment is a stark and timely reminder of what we need to do to tackle the climate, water and biodiversity crises we face.

“This is why the Greens are in government; to make those radical changes that we need to make. We are already making progress, with a new climate bill about to set binding emissions targets, and substantial budget 2020 increases in areas from retrofitting to public transport to biodiversity. We have also committed to developing a National Land Use plan.

“We know we have to do more, and the Green Party will fight to ensure that environment and climate issues are at the heart of decision making and investment over the lifetime of this government.”

Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett, said: “The EPA report highlights the need for environmentally-sustainable agriculture and I’m working with farmers to achieve that. We know we face a huge challenge, but that’s why my Department has sought and received funding for important environmental measures.

“Investment in the horticulture sector will double in 2021 to €9million and spending in the organic sector is up to €5.5million, which will support 400 to 500 more farmers to go organic. We have 23 EIP-Agri schemes (European Innovation Partnerships) where farmers are working collaboratively, in groups, with ecologists and advisers to achieve better habitat management for hen harriers, for pearl mussels, in the uplands and on dairy farms. I want to see more of this kind of activity, and I want us to use the learnings from these schemes to apply to other areas.

“Forestry has been identified in the report as having a role in our health infrastructure and I recognise that forestry of the future must be multi-functional. It must address climate action and deliver for biodiversity, for water quality, and for local communities. I’m appointing a Forestry Policy Group, which will include more environmental NGOs than previously, to work on developing this new forestry model.”

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, said that the report highlighted the scale of the challenge ahead, not just for Government but for all of society: “For my own part, I will be focusing efforts on a new National Biodiversity Plan commencing in 2021, setting ambitious targets for 30% land and 30% marine protection, with 10% strictly protected as guided by the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Within National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), we will be working on our big blanket bog restoration projects and wider partnerships towards rehabilitation of degraded bogs.

“I want to empower local authorities to lead on biodiversity and water quality through the development of an enhanced heritage division in each Council, an all-Island approach to biodiversity data gathering and conservation. The new all Ireland pollinator plan will plot a way forward for all communities to become active participants and citizen scientists in conserving biodiversity.

“The task is immense, but we are collectively committed to turning this story around into a positive one. This will require sustained investment, commitment and renewed focus of collective effort of all of society.”

Under Minister for Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan, this government has taken substantive action on: 

  • Climate:

We have substantially increased funding and ambition in tackling climate change. We are embarking on the most ambitious reduction of 51% by 2030. We will continue to increase funding, both public and private to achieve these aims.  We will redirect the National development plan to ensure we reach a sustainable and efficient economy, by investing in our homes and also in reducing car dependency.

  • Waste:

We’ve Launched a Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy that seeks to tackle waste at source, increasing re-use, decreasing non-recyclable packaging to achieve far higher recover rates.

  • Biodiversity:

Yesterday we launched a pioneering Bog rehabilitation program that will revitalise 33,000ha for enhanced flood protection, providing for a just transition and most importantly ensuring these bogs are restored to support the unique biodiversity of the peatlands. We will hold a citizens assembly on biodiversity, allocate marine protected areas and have substantially increased funding for the national parks and wildlife service (NPWS).