Absence of 2050 targets in climate laws criticised

Environment body told emissions cuts of up to 90% needed


The Government’s decision to omit long-term targets for greenhouse gas emissions has been repeatedly criticised during three days of Oireachtas hearings on proposed climate change legislation.

Some 30 organisations, individuals and interested parties are making presentations to the all-party Committee on the Environment, chaired by Labour Party TD Michael McCarthy on the outline heads of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Bill.

The majority of those presenting so far have expressed reservations about the absence of specific targets for 2050, with many arguing for emissions reductions of between 80 per cent and 90 per cent. Hearings will continue next week.

Yesterday, the Committee heard from six groups and interests, including the group representing Irish business Ibec; the group which represents the agrifood industry and aid agency Trócaire.

Neil Walker of Ibec broadly welcomed the legislation saying it provided a basis for climate change law that could command widespread support.

“It is certainly a huge improvement on previous attempts at national legislation which, in our view, would have worked against, rather than alongside EU policy.”

Mr Walker said Ibec would welcome provisions to make the policy framework for greenhouse gas reductions more “accountable and democratic”.

Trócaire said there was no political scenario in which Ireland could be given a licence to continue to emit high levels of emissions. It accepted it would be hard to imagine what Ireland would look like with 80 to 95 per cent less emissions in 2050 but “this is where we must go”.

Irish Corporate Leaders on Climate Change, representing some of the country’s biggest corporations including Vodafone, Diageo and Bord Gáis struck a different note to Ibec, arguing that “an overarching vision for Ireland is not apparent in the draft Bill. Our group has long argued that Ireland, like other countries, should adopt a science based target for 2050 to encapsulate our vision”.

The Irish AgriFood Industry group welcomed the draft.