Coalition delays publication of climate change legislation

 

The Government has delayed the publication of draft legislation on climate change for two weeks but has maintained both Coalition parties are in agreement on its provisions.

The heads of Bill is expected to incorporate the short-term EU targets which compel Ireland to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent compared with 2005 levels but do not to include specific targets for 2030 and 2050.

However, the draft legislation does provide that future international agreements on reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be incorporated. The decision not to include specific targets for the medium term and long term were partly influenced by legal advice from the Attorney General’s office on the basis that they might be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.

The legislation proposes the establishment of an independent group but not the carbon commission proposed by the previous government.

The lack of specific longer-term targets in the proposed legislation was criticised by opposition parties and campaign groups yesterday, with several asserting that the Labour Party was backsliding from its pre-election stance.

‘Lot of improvement’

However, Labour TD Kevin Humphreys said the party had strongly opposed a previous version of the draft Bill before Christmas and that the latest version had been strengthened considerably.

“I think with the amount of engagement that has taken place, there has been a lot of improvement – including much stronger language,” he said.

A 90-page report by the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) secretariat, recognised the need for goals and targets, but said that more emphasis should be placed on finding “how-to” measures to achieve those ends.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said there was no 2030 target included.

He agreed with part of the NESC report and said any solution did not preclude a “bottom-up approach” or tackling the “how-to” questions.

But he defended the primacy of targets. “It’s one way to make sure you come up with solutions. It sets the overall framework and leaves it free to government to come up with solutions.”

Friends of the Earth welcomed the delay. Director Oisín Coghlan said it opposed a Bill with no targets and no independent advisory council.