Government climate change plan a ‘moral and legal failure’

Environmental groups say draft plan is wholly inadequate to meet challenges

Minister for Communication, Climate Change and Environment Denis Naughten. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister for Communication, Climate Change and Environment Denis Naughten. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Government’s draft plan to combat climate change has been described as a “moral and legal failure” by environmental groups in an official submission.

Stop Climate Chaos and the Environmental Pillar, which jointly represent more than 30 organisations, will today submit its response to the draft National Mitigation Plan, published by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten.

The submission, which has been seen by The Irish Times, has described the plan as wholly inadequate to meet the climate change challenges ahead.

It says the draft plan fails to meet the obligation set out in the Government’s own climate legislation, the global Paris Agreement as well as European Union targets to which Ireland is committed.

The submission comes a week after a report by the Environmental Protection Agency which said Ireland would fail to meet its 2020 targets, and warned that emissions would continue to rise in the following decade, based on current projections.

Fracking

The submission is highly critical of the lack of specificity or tangible action in the plan. It does welcome certain aspects including plans to phase out fossil fuels, a prospective ban on fracking, as well as a possibility that Ireland might become one of the first western nations to divest itself fully from fossil fuels.

However, it criticises the lack of a clear outline on how and when objectives will be achieved. “Unfortunately the Government appears more interested in the status quo, particularly in relation to agriculture as the draft plan states that the economic importance of the agricultural sector must be balanced with reducing emissions.”

Oisín Coghlan of Friends of the Earth portrayed the plan as “not really a plan at all”. He added: “It reads like a discussion document. And it doesn’t actually adopt any new actions to reduce Ireland’s emissions.”

Mr Naughten must submit the final plan to Government by June 10th. He has strongly criticised Ireland 2020 EU targets, agreed by a former government, as “unrealistic” and reckless.

Meanwhile, a competition has been launched hoping to discover smart solutions to problems in Dublin, including illegal dumping estimated to cost about €1.5 million across the county’s four local authorities.

The Small Business Innovation Research scheme, based on a US model for encouraging innovative solutions from the private sector, will offer overall funding of €600,000.

Building on a similar programme last year looking at city cycling, the Smart Dublin and Enterprise Ireland initiative will begin accepting proposals from Wednesday.

“This is about people coming to us with things that we haven’t seen, we haven’t tried before and we haven’t thought of before,” said Simon Brock, a Dublin City Council official championing the illegal dumping aspect of the competition.

The other two categories are about finding ways to monitor and predict blocked drainage in high-risk flooding areas and to design “wayfinding” navigation solutions around the capital.

Open to anybody with ideas, the competition will run in two phases of examining feasibility and prototyping technology-based solutions.