All-party committee pre-empts climate change legislation

 

AN ALL-PARTY Oireachtas Committee, including members of Fianna Fáil and the Greens, has pre-empted Government legislation on climate change by publishing its own comprehensive Bill.

The Joint Committee on Climate Change yesterday published the Climate Change Bill 2010.

The Bill, which received unanimous backing from committee members, proposes that a reduction in carbon emissions of 80 per cent by 2050 be put on a statutory basis.

It also makes provision for a climate change strategy, carbon budgeting, a climate change commission and a climate adaptation strategy.

An unusual aspect of the legislation is that the onus of responsibility for implementing the provisions of the legislation lies firmly with the Taoiseach of the day.

The committee’s rapporteur, Labour TD Liz McManus, said it was clear to the committee that the onus should be so.

“Responsibility for climate change must lie at the centre of government. It must be led by the Taoiseach,” said Ms McManus.

The publication of the Bill brought into focus the delays that have been experienced within Government in bringing forward its own Climate Change Bill, a key goal of the revised programme for government in late 2009.

The Government set yesterday that the heads of the Bill (draft scheme) would be submitted to Cabinet for approval and that drafting would begin as soon as possible. It is unlikely that the full Bill will be published by the end of the year.

Minister for the Environment John Gormley and the Minister of State for Climate Change Ciarán Cuffe both welcomed the committee’s Bill.

Mr Gormley said it contained “some good elements which we will take into consideration in the finalisation of our own climate change Bill”.

Mr Cuffe said he hoped the degree of cross-party consensus on the issue would lead to “all-party support for this very important legislation when it comes before the Dáil”.

Mr Cuffe said the Bill was complementary – and would add to – the work on the legislation and he did not regard the committee’s Bill as a competing one.

There have been some tensions within Government on its own Bill. Ms McManus referred to these difficulties yesterday when she said a meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee on climate change was cancelled recently because of “unresolved issues”.