Coalition says Bill on climate will fulfil pledges


The Government claims its draft legislation on climate change to be published tomorrow will be robust and fulfil all its programme commitments despite criticism from the Opposition and campaign groups of no targets being included for 2030 and 2050.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan is expected to bring the Heads of Bill for the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill to tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting with a view to the full Bill being published this year.

The Bill was due to come before Cabinet a fortnight ago but its publication was delayed amid speculation it was being “tweaked” at the behest of the Labour Party over concerns it was not strong enough.

Small changes

However, according to a Labour source, there have been only a few small changes in the past few weeks, with the main one involving the title of the legislation being changed from the National Low Carbon Transition Bill. Most of the major changes, said the source, occurred after an earlier draft in December 2012 was not considered strong enough by Labour in government.

Both parties have said they are comfortable with the fact that no specific targets are included for 2030 and 2050, saying there are provisions in the Bill that will oblige the Government to adhere to targets in any new international deals.

Food production

There are also concerns, especially on the Fine Gael side, that committing to an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels) would mean a substantial reduction in food production in Ireland that could be very damaging to the agri-food sector.

While accepting that the previous coalition had included a 80 per cent reduction target by 2050 in its Bill, the Labour source said it was clear during the parliamentary debate that nobody knew how it could be achieved, and what implications it would have for Ireland, especially for the agrifood sector.

The Bill tomorrow will make the EU target for 2020 (which require a 20 per cent reduction in emissions) the national target and also commit the State to “existing or future obligations...under any international agreement”.