Labour publishes climate change bill


Ireland must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by some 80 per cent by 2050 if “catastrophic” climate change is to be averted, the Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said today.

The Taoiseach would be made accountable for Ireland's climate change targets under a bill published today by the party.

The draft legislation sets a national objective of an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050, along with an interim target of 30 per cent by 2020.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Ireland is committed to remaining 13 per cent above its 1990 emissions levels. But recent figures show we are currently 25.5 per cent above those, Labour said.

Party leader Eamon Gilmore said the targets laid down in the bill were "in line with what the science demands if we are to avert catastrophic climate change".

"Tackling climate change is the biggest challenge of our age. Ireland has made commitments internationally which we have not lived up to, as the record shows."

Mr Gilmore said good intentions were "simply not enough".

"What we require is a robust framework which will translate aspirations into action. It needs to be driven from the very top in a co-ordinated integrated fashion and it needs to be grounded in legislation. That's what our climate change bill is all about."

He said it was about taking our responsibility seriously, but also about opening up opportunities for innovation and job creation in new technologies "that can harness nature's resources in order to safeguard the future of our world".

"We can not op-out of dealing with climate change. We have been living in the carbon equivalent of a property bubble. Ireland is the fifth highest emitter per capita of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) in the world and the second highest in the EU. Each citizen here is responsible for emitting 17 tonnes of GHG equivalent per annum, up from 15 tonnes in 1990."

Under the Labour proposal, the Taoiseach, working with the Environmental Protection Agency, would be responsible for setting a carbon budget for each five year budgetary period which he would be obliged to present to the Oireachtas

"Up to now there has been no legislative mechanism by which to achieve or monitor our climate change targets. This Bill makes the Taoiseach accountable for these targets. The Taoiseach will set the carbon budget and targets, report to the Oireachtas and outline the proposals and policies for meeting them," Mr Gilmore said.

Mr Gilmore said Ireland would not be allowed to "buy" its way out of the crisis by purchasing so-called carbon credits, whereby countries with higher levels of emissions can trade or 'buy' the surplus allowances of countries with lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

He said the purchase of carbon credits would be limited to 40 per cent of the reduction in emissions and that domestic reductions must "form the backbone" of the overall reduction.

"Politically, everyone is signed up the need to address climate change. There is now a broad scientific consensus that we need to prevent temperatures from rising by more than 2°C above their pre-industrial level.

"International experts, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Stern report have called on reductions in carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. This bill puts in place a framework and mechanism for reaching that target," Mr Gilmore added.