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Government’s climate change plan draws lukewarm response

Inside Politics: Green Party leader Eamon Ryan says proposals lack ‘real ambition’ in certain areas

Good morning,

The Government has published its much-anticipated plan to tackle climate change. The plan has been met, politically, with a lukewarm response.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said although it was a good day for the cause, aspects of the plan lack “real ambition”.

Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley said the plan “deliberately excludes a commitment to put a new 'net zero' 2050 target into promised amending legislation this year”, something Ryan has also pointed out.


Sinn Féin is doubling down on its opposition to increased carbon taxes. And while the Opposition parties will make hay from the shortcomings they can find, there is  a consensus we are moving in the right direction.

In fact, Kevin O'Sullivan reports, the Friends of Earth group believes the plan is "the biggest innovation in Irish climate policy in 20 years".

If we implement the measures, we are in with a fighting chance of meeting our 2030 targets, the group says.

The debate will move on today when John FitzGerald, the chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council, appears at the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Change alongside Kelly de Bruin of the ESRI.

One key plank of the Government plans involves allowing households to pay for retrofitting of their homes, perhaps through increased property taxes or some other loan mechanism.

The question of the building industry’s capacity to deliver this retrofitting will be addressed today.

Mr Fitzgerald is expected to propose a path forward for the Government in this regard - by retrofitting local authority houses first.

“The expertise and skills need to be developed to undertake this work, and this may take some time,” he is expected to tell TDs.

“One way of developing this expertise would be to gradually ramp up contracts to retrofit the stock of local authority dwellings owned by the state,” his opening statement says.

“In doing so the state would signal that investment in this sector will be a major feature of the coming decades: developing the building industry capacity and skills to deliver it will be worthwhile.”

He says this investment would also substantially reduce emissions from families in local authority dwellings, many of them on low incomes, and reduce their expenditure and have health benefits for the elderly.

And a warning will be sounded: “Increasing the cost of emitting carbon is not a once off commitment, but must be sustained over the coming decade.”

Here's our lead today. Here's Pat Leahy's analysis. And here's Kevin O'Sullivan's piece on how each one of us will increasingly be confronted with the same question in the coming years: what are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?

The 12 days of summer

As of today, there are only four weeks left before the Dáil breaks for summer recess (as one political adviser reminded us in hushed and excited tones yesterday).

That’s a mere 12 sitting days, and there is a slightly frenetic energy around Leinster House as departments push to get key projects over the line.

All Brexit matters have been put on hold as the Conservative Party remains immersed in its machinations, but there is still plenty on the agenda for the last chapter of this Dáil term.

Next to Brexit, the Government made the women affected by CervicalCheck its priority when it announced the spring-summer legislative programme earlier this year. Today, Minister for Health Simon Harris will bring legislation to Cabinet to set up a tribunal to deal with those claims.

He is also under pressure to enact legislation to provide for mandatory open disclosure. Questions are also still being asked about when the women and their families will be given payments from the new ex-gratia scheme. Dáil or no Dáil, this issue will continue to dominate the Government’s time throughout the summer.

Best reads

Majella Moynihan, the former garda who faced disciplinary action for becoming pregnant outside of marriage in the mid-1980s, has appointed a solicitor and is considering suing the State for damages arising from her treatment, writes Jack Horgan Jones.

Dublin City's newly elected council has pledged not to sell public lands to private developers for housing except in exceptional circumstances, writes Ronan McGreevy.

Thousands of hospital support staff are set to strike on Thursday after talks over pay issues ended without agreement, writes Jack Power.

Here's Joe Brennan on a Government plan to make senior bankers more accountable individually for failing.

Also we can't let the moment pass without pointing you towards The Atlantic podcast series by the excellent Rosita Boland.



Leader’s Questions is up at 14.00 with Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour, and Independents for Change in the driving seat.

The Order of Business will be taken at 14.32.

Leo Varadkar is up for Taoiseach’s Questions at 15.02.

And then its Simon Coveney in the hot seat with parliamentary questions for the Minister for Foreign Affairs at 15:47.

Government Business will be taken at 18.05 with a motion on the proposed participation by the Defence Forces in the UN Mission in Mali - also known as MINUSMA. Last week the Government agreed to deploy members of the elite Army Ranger Wing to the UN Mission in Mali.

The Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 will also be discussed in this slot. This Bill seeks to “bring clarity to the permit and licensing approach to small scale, local gaming and lottery activity, updating certain stake and prize limits and standardising the minimum gambling age at 18”.

The Dáil adjourns at 22.00.


Commencement matters will be taken at 14.30.

At 15.30 the Order of Business will be taken.

At 16.45 the Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Probation Judgments and Decisions) Bill 2018 will be discussed before the return of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 at 16:45.


At 11.00 the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government will discuss the provision of affordable housing.

At 13.30 the Select Committee on Budgetary Oversight will consider issues relating to climate change and the budgetary and fiscal implications. They will be joined by representatives from the Department of Communications, ESRI representatives and the chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council, Prof John Fitzgerald.

At 14.00 the Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action has a private meeting.

At 15.30 the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine will discuss the control and management of horses with officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

At 15.45, the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach will discuss matters relating to the National Broadband Plan with officials from Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, including Robert Watt, secretary general.