Government urged to give more detail on climate plans

Stop Climate Chaos calls for implementation of Citizens Assembly recommendations

Environmental and development organisations have welcomed Ireland’s underlining of its commitment to the Paris agreement on climate change but have called for more detail on “huge changes” promised in Government action on global warming.

Reacting to Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton’s national statement at the UN COP24 summit, deputy director of Trócaire, Finola Finnan welcomed the recognition “that the window of opportunity for action on climate change is rapidly closing, and that a failure to respond would be catastrophic”.

Commenting after Irish NGOs in Katowice met Mr Bruton, she said: "We also welcome his acknowledgement on the international stage that Ireland has not been delivering, but that he is ready to make huge changes."

She noted, however, the minister’s statement was brief on specifics. “It was disappointing that at this first political gathering since publication of the recent [UN]IPCC report that the minister did not take this opportunity to endorse this landmark report and commit to placing the safer goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees at the centre of national policy making.”


She hoped the COP24 outcome would send an urgent signal that political leaders have heard the science “and will act accordingly to avoid preventable deaths and hardship, particularly among the poorest communities in countries where Trócaire is working”.

On Mr Bruton’s announcement of additional €4.5million in international climate finance, much of it to support action in developing countries, she said it was not enough.

“Resources will have to increase significantly in the coming years to enable poor communities to cope with the impacts they are experiencing, from persistent drought to storms and flash flooding, all of which are exacerbating poverty, hunger and health in the countries Trócaire is operating in.”

Equally importantly, Ms Finnan said, was to ensure Ireland was not giving with one hand and taking with the other. "The all of Government approach the Minister has committed to must ensure we urgently reduce our contribution to the problem, in all our interests."

Christian Aid Ireland welcomed the allocation for global climate action, and Mr Bruton's "restating of his commitment to the implementation of the Paris agreement".

Policy and Advocacy advisor Jennifer Higgins said it was one sign of hope when it comes to Ireland's reputation on climate. "We hope that it will continue and that Ireland will seek to contribute its fair share to international climate finance, without it we will never hope to achieve the goals set in Paris."

Mr Bruton’s comments that Ireland would “make huge changes” domestically was welcome, she said. “Despite its small size, Ireland has a big impact on the climate, and is, as we already know, massively off course to achieve our 2020 tagets but also our 2030.”

Stop Climate Chaos called for implementation of Citizens Assembly recommendations to be at centre of Minister's actions. Spokeswoman Marion Briggs of Friends of the Earth said it was was good to hear the Minister refer to his experience of the conference as a "wake up call".

She looked forward to his forthcoming climate action plan, notably to see the specifics of how he was going to prompt the promised “revolution in how we live”.

“There’s no better place to start than the proposals put forward by members of the public in the Citizens Assembly. These common sense, yet far reaching measures, show that meaningful engagement and public consultation can enable real and fair change,” she said.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times