Government’s commitment to climate goals questioned

Irish role on hunger hypocritical without climate change action, says Independent TD


Ireland’s role as a champion in countering hunger is hypocritical if it fails to act on climate change, Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan has claimed.

Questioning the State’s commitment to sustainable goals and the Green Climate Fund, she said, at leaders’ questions in the Dáil: “There can be no ambiguity around emissions.”

Ireland is acknowledged as a champion in countering hunger, she said, “but unless we walk the walk on climate change, we are guilty of being hypocritical”.

She questioned the State’s policy coherence because it was giving development aid but “taking back in that we are not delivering on climate change.”

Ms O’Sullivan asked: “Will we just keep giving foreign aid and pay millions, if not billions, in fines to the EU because we are not meeting targets?”

But Taoiseach Enda Kenny, insisting that the goals set for Ireland were not achievable, replied that Ireland’s profile in its production from the agrifoods sector was disproportionate to other countries.

As the Paris climate change talks continue, Mr Kenny said that “no other country, with the exceptions of New Zealand, Uruguay and, to an extent, Denmark, matches Ireland’s profile in this regard . . . The point is that the targets set for Ireland of a 20 per cent reduction by 2020, [based] on 2005 figures, are not realisable.”

Balance and common sense was therefore required, Mr Kenny said. “I am all for ambitious targets, but I want targets that we can achieve.” But he said that as the economy improved, the State would catch up more rapidly than others because of research in agrisector smart technology.

There had to be some “hard bargaining” with the European Commission in the next fortnight.

“These targets will be set down by mid-February, and once set down, they will be exceptionally difficult to change.”

Mr Kenny referred to one opinion he heard expressed that the 45,000 Irish beef farms should be planted with forestry instead.

“If we followed that line of logic, we would decrease the capacity to produce food by thousands of tonnes and would transfer the opportunity for more rainforests to be demolished and levelled for food to be produced to inferior standards with much higher emissions.”

Ms O’Sullivan also called on the Taoiseach to commit to contributing to the Green Climate Fund in line with pledges made by similar developed countries.