17th April 2019 | Climate Change, Press Releases

Irish MEP greenwashing laid bare in voting report: Senator Grace O’Sullivan


Irish MEPs are not living up to what they are saying on climate change. This report on MEP voting record shows how Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have delayed and blocked climate action over the last five years.

Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan reacted angrily to the report saying:

“This report lays bare the truth behind Ireland’s political greenwashing. They’re jumping on the bandwagon in the public eye, being seen to show their support to the climate strikers and a general public who care deeply about their future. They’re saying one thing to the camera and behaving with utter contempt for the people who put them in their jobs, when it comes to voting for real change. One thing is clear if Irish voters want Green they should vote Green.”

The report “Defenders, Delayers, Dinosaurs: Ranking of EU political groups and national parties on climate change” assesses the voting behaviour of current MEPs in relation to climate and energy issues. The report was prepared by Climate Action Network (CAN) who are a leading international environmental NGO based in Brussels.

It reveals which political parties act to protect Europeans against climate change.

With the information from this report in hand, Irish voters are equipped to vote for candidates from those parties which support climate action in the upcoming European Parliament elections in May.

Political parties were given scores out of 100. They were divided into three categories: defenders of climate action, delayers or climate action or dinosaurs, who don’t see the need for action against climate change.

And the assessment is bad for Ireland’s political parties:

–          Fine Gael score 20.8% putting them in the category of ‘dinosaurs’, who don’t grasp the importance of climate action.

–          Fianna Fáil score 0% because of the absence of their only MEP.

–          Sinn Féin score 48.7% putting them in the category of ‘delayers’ of climate action. This ranking puts them a category below their own political group GUE/NGL.

This scoring is all the more surprising because it was possible for MEPs to score highly. The average score for MEPs in the Greens/EFA group was 84.9%, for GUE/NGL it was 66.5% and for the S&D group it was 61.3%.

MEPs were ranked on how they voted in 21 important votes for tackling climate change. They covered a number of issues including: making emissions trading more effective, reporting on fossil fuel subsidies, increasing climate change effort sharing measures, and promoting higher energy efficiency targets.

Speaking of her dismay at the figures, O’Sullivan, a former peace and environmental activist with Greenpeace, said the report showed how quick Irish MEPS were to say one thing publicly but do something entirely different in parliament.

“Really and truly, I’m sick to the teeth of it. I’ve taken some fairly extreme measures in efforts to highlight environmental issues over the years. I’ve climbed the anchor chain of a Russian nuclear warship; I’ve put myself in the firing line of Japanese harpoonists intent on killing whales. I’ve been jailed. I’ve seen my dear friend murdered, when the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace ship we were crew on was bombed by the French Secret Service. We’ve seen a movement worldwide for action on the environment and Climate Change. Everyone – adults and children want our politicians to wake up and listen to us. What do we have to do to be heard on this – start climbing the flagpoles outside Leinster House?

“For 30 years I have been doing everything I can to highlight Climate Change. When I moved into politics that was front and centre of the issues I wanted to focus on. It’s an issue that is hitting the headlines and reaching into the hearts and minds of international civic society, thanks to the wisdom and outspoken demands of our younger generations who are fighting for their futures and begging us, this current adult generation, to protect them.

“It’s time for Irish MEPs to wake up and start doing some real work on this and becoming the Defenders this report refers to. I want to be elected to the European parliament so I can start to put right our disgraceful record and start representing the views of people who want to have a healthy planet into the future.”



Below are some examples of key votes held in the European Parliament that would have done much to increase the EU’s climate ambition, from phasing out fossil fuel subsidies to preventing deforestation and promoting renewable energy.


• The Governance of the Energy Union, the 2018 legal framework for putting the Paris Climate Agreement into practice in the EU, establishes that Member States must adopt national energy and climate plans for 2030 and long-term climate and energy strategies for 2050, with corrective measures in case of any delays or shortfalls. The Greens in the European Parliament proposed that Member States must adopt clear plans to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020. The proposal was however defeated by the political right in the EPP, ENF, ALDE, ECR, EFDD

»AMENDMENT 72 – reporting on fossil fuel subsidies

Make Member states plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020″ (Greens in favour, SF abstained, FG against)


Lynn BOYLAN Rebel Abstain GUE-NGL Sinn Féin
Matt CARTHY Rebel Abstain GUE-NGL Sinn Féin
Nessa CHILDERS Loyal For S&D Independent
Deirdre CLUNE Loyal Against EPP Fine Gael Party
Brian CROWLEY Absent Absent ECR Fianna Fáil Party
Luke Ming FLANAGAN Rebel Abstain GUE-NGL Independent
Marian HARKIN Loyal Against ALDE/ADLE Independent
Brian HAYES Loyal Against EPP Fine Gael Party
Seán KELLY Loyal Against EPP Fine Gael Party
Mairead McGUINNESS Didn’t vote Didn’t vote EPP Fine Gael Party
Liadh NÍ RIADA Rebel Abstain GUE-NGL Sinn Féin


The Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation is part of the EU’s climate and energy strategy, designed to make sure that the EU’s efforts in cutting emissions are coupled with avoiding emissions from land use change and forestry. Numerous negative amendments, hoewever, made the regulation revision in 2017 counterproductive to these long term climate goals, the main example being an amendment put forward by the EPP that would allow for reference levels of carbon sinks (i.e. how much does a forest count in terms of emission reduction) to stay the same even with increased harvest from the forest, as long as the forest is not completely cut down. This amendment was opposed by the Greens but passed with the votes of the EPP, the Conservatives, Liberals and parts of the Socialists


»AGAINST: AMENDMENT 65/1 – conditions for sustainable forest management (Greens against, EPP for, ADOPTED)

“Deletes “intensity” from the sentence “based on the continuation of current forest management practice and intensity” thus allowing for a more intense forest harvesting”


Lynn BOYLAN Absent Absent GUE-NGL Sinn Féin
Matt CARTHY Loyal Against GUE-NGL Sinn Féin
Nessa CHILDERS Loyal Against S&D Independent
Deirdre CLUNE Loyal For EPP Fine Gael Party
Brian CROWLEY Absence Absence ECR Fianna Fáil Party
Luke Ming FLANAGAN Loyal Against GUE-NGL Independent
Marian HARKIN Loyal For ALDE/ADLE Independent
Brian HAYES Loyal For EPP Fine Gael Party
Seán KELLY Loyal For EPP Fine Gael Party
Mairead McGUINNESS Loyal For EPP Fine Gael Party
Liadh NÍ RIADA Loyal Against GUE-NGL Sinn Féin


 The Directive for the promotion of Energy from Renewable Sources (RES) was revised in 2018 and aims to provide guiding principles on financial support schemes for RES, renewable energy self-consumption, energy communities and district heating. It sets the target that renewable energy should account for at least 32% of the EU’s energy mix by 2030. The Greens believe much higher ambition is needed to reach 100% renewables by 2050, and thus supported raising the ambition to 45% of renewable energy by 2030. However ALDE, ECR, ENF, the EPP and a majority of the S&D opposed this amendment.


»IN FAVOR: AM 339 – increasing target to 45%

“45% of Renewable energy in the EU by 2030 and mandatory nationally binding targets” (Greens in favour, EPP against, SF abstained, REJECTED)


Sinn Fein abstained (Anderson, Boylan, Carthy, Ni Riada, Flanagan)

3 Fine Gael were against: (Clune, Kelly, Mc Guinness) Hayes in favour