Departments given fortnight to produce emissions reduction plans

TD says having vision to fight climate change important but it is hard to see one across Government

Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton, who is chairwoman of the Oireachtas climate change committee. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton, who is chairwoman of the Oireachtas climate change committee. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

The chair of the Oireachtas committee on climate change has ordered all 15 Government departments to produce within two weeks tangible actions they will take to reduce carbon emissions following “completely unsatisfactory” responses from most of them to date.

Hildegarde Naughton of Fine Gael has written to the Minister or Climate Action Richard Bruton asking him to direct all Minsters and departmental secretaries general to report to the committee outlining three actions each will take to help reduce emissions across the State.

The committee, she has said, wants the information in advance of Mr Bruton’s first appearance before it since moving into the brief after the resignation of Denis Naughten last month.

The intervention by Ms Naughton follows appearances by the secretaries general of most departments before the committee this month, at which TDs and senators expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of detail and information about the plans they had to reduce emissions within their sector to try to help Ireland meet its binding-EU carbon reduction targets.

Projections

Committee members including Eamon Ryan (Green Party), Timmy Dooley (Fianna Fáil) and Brian Stanley (Sinn Féin) were unhappy that some key departments had no specific plans, timelines or projections for how they would fulfil their responsibility in reducing emissions.

Mr Bruton has already announced he will develop a climate action plan, setting out concrete goals to help meet the targets set out by the EU for 2020 and for 2030.

“It is important there is a vision and it was hard to see what it was. It was also unclear what actions the departments were taking to meet the targets,” ms Naughton said.

The members were particularly critical that Project Ireland 2040 - the Government’s plan for future development - did not include projections for climate impact before its publication.

While the Government has said a fifth of the budget will be devoted to sustainable projects, critics have said there are no figures to show the impact of the proposals on the environment.

“The question we asked was what is the trajectory and what are the carbon emissions from the plan,” said Ms Naughton. “If there are zero carbon buses, have you done that calculation on the impact? That has not been done.”

Quadrupled

Turning to the issue of carbon tax, Ms Naughton pointed to the estimate of the Climate Change Advisory Council that it would need to be quadrupled from €20 a tonne to €80 a tonne by 2030, which would likely lead to very steep increases in fuel costs for vehicles and home heating.

“That’s going to happen gradually over 12 years,” she said. “What we need to do now is to set out a trajectory up to 2030 in relation to a carbon tax. This will set out for the next 10 years how the increases will be implemented. That would need agreement from all parties.”