Climate change: ‘PAC’ for climate change proposed

Report calls for laws to set more ambitious climate and renewable electricity targets

Oireachtas report calls for legislation to  to limit emissions. Photograph: Getty

Oireachtas report calls for legislation to to limit emissions. Photograph: Getty

 

An all-party committee has delivered a mandate “for this and future governments” to implement a range of actions to address the threat of climate breakdown.

While implementation of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action report would be difficult, it had gone about its business in a fair way and forged a “majority consensus”, which would make it easier to do what was urgently needed, according to chairwoman Hildegarde Naughton.

Citizens including young people were demanding a better response to climate change by politicians, she said.

“This is a sign the Oireachtas is listening, and we are acting now...climate change is a real and present threat. It is not tomorrow’s problem and can no longer be treated as such.”

Speaking in Leinster House after the report’s publication on Tuesday, Ms Naughton said the group considered key sectors; agriculture, transport, energy generation and the built environment.

The proposed new governance structure would ensure its recommendations were implemented effectively.

It would elevate climate action to the same level of importance as finance and budgetary matters in terms of political priorities, while a new Oireachtas committee would create “A PAC [Public Accounts Committee] for climate”, she said.

The report, which follows six months of work by committee members and contains 40 recommendations, has been welcomed by many sectors including agriculture, energy and environmental NGOs.

Sinn Féin and People Before Profit members voted against it because of its position on carbon taxes, which they claimed would penalise the less well-off , who are most dependent on fossil fuels.

The report calls for legislation to set more ambitious climate and renewable electricity targets; the introduction of five-yearly “carbon budgets” to limit emissions and an increase in existing carbon tax from €20 to at €80 per tonne of CO2 by 2030, once supports and protection mechanisms are put in place for the less well off.

Increased revenues should be ring-fenced, but the committee has yet to determine whether they should be returned to households or reserved for climate actions .

The report will be fed into an overall report to be published shortly by Minster for Climate Action Richard Bruton.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on climate action, Timmy Dooley said the committe’s work was a comprehensive blueprint.

“If followed by this and future governments we have a chance - and it’s only a chance to avert [CLIMATE]change.”

He paid tribute to academics and environmental NGOs who had helped bring climate onto the “mainstream agenda”. It was time now to bring it into the lives of the people, helped by a bipartisan approach politically. A carrot and stick approach would be needed to prompt consumers to embrace climate actions, he added.

Labour TD Seán Sherlock said the Government should fully embrace their recommendations. If this did not happen, Ireland would fall further behind in its addressing its carbon emissions.

The redirection of farming could be done in a way “that doesn’t force farmers to stop production overnight”, he said.

The scale of change needed to reduce emissions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 was unprecedented, said Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, and there should be no glossing over the need to act immediately.

This required changing the entire agriculture system. There was less consensus on overhauling a “broken transport system”, he noted, but the committee, which is to stay in existence, would return to this issue.