Greens manifesto supports EU but critical of defence and climate change
Party calls for binding carbon budgets in EU to reduce emissions by 55 per cent by 2030
Ciarán Cuffe said the Green Party was pro-European but had many concerns. ‘We have concerns about the rise in defence spending and the earmarking of €12 billion for defence,’ he said. File photograph: Frank Miller
The Green Party will contest the European elections as strong defenders of the EU but also as strong critics of its record on climate change, its market-led policies, increasing militarisation, and subsidising the fossil fuel industry.
Launching its European election manifesto in Dublin on Thursday, the party said that the poll at the end of the month was a “climate change election”. The EU was far from perfect, it said, but could be a “powerful force for good”.
Its three candidates in the South, and Northern candidate Clare Baily, emphasised how Green MEPs would benefit Ireland, through membership of the Greens-European Free Alliance in the parliament, through being more visible to voters during the term, and implementing practical measures that would ensure communities and groups availed of EU funding to adapt and improve conditions.
The party’s three candidates in the Republic are Councillor Ciarán Cuffe in Dublin; Senator Grace O’Sullivan in South, and Saoirse McHugh, a 28-year old climate change activist from Achill, who is contesting Midlands North West.
“Ireland’s record on climate change is very poor and does not represent who I am and who my children are,” said Ms O’Sullivan. She and the other candidates emphasised the need for immediate action on climate change.
The manifesto calls for binding carbon budgets for the EU which would reduce emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 and building net-zero emissions economies. It also proposes to end all subsidies to fossil fuels, and the banning or high taxation of non-recyclable plastics.
It calls on the sale of new fossil fuel cars to be banned by 2030 and a European flight tax on airlines. It calls for increased afforestation, protection of marine areas and fish stocks and the ending of deep-sea bottom trawling.
In agriculture, the party wants farmers to begin moving away from meat production and also wants pesticides such as glyphosate to be banned.
Mr Cuffe said the party was pro-European but had many concerns. “We have concerns about the rise in defence spending and the earmarking of €12 billion for defence. Emmanuel Macron’s pitch is for a European army. We are worried about that and proud of neutrality and our fantastic record on peacekeeping,” he said.
“If elected, we would join the Green Alliance which will increase its number of seats. In the next parliament we could be pivotal in the Budget over the next six months. We would try to influence the budget for decarbonisation, to invest in public housing and public transport, to remove the subsidies for fossil fuel.”
The party is opposed to Brexit and supports a second referendum to reverse the decision. Ms Baily said Brexit had been an unmitigated disaster.
Ms O’Sullivan said there was is a deficit of information about what MEPs do for people.
“We will look to ensure we communicate back what is available and create a mechanism where Ireland can draw down its entitlement. We have mismanaged our opportunities in Europe. We are not enabling people to draw down funding and supports.”
Ms McHugh told the conference that climate action and biodiversity recovery could be a great opportunity as Ireland and Europe moved towards regreening the economy.
Referring to the mass protests by young people throughout the State, Ms McHugh said: “The youth have mobilised and the climate generation have (spoken). They are on the streets and they have no vote,” she said, saying change was needed from the top down.
“I hope to be that voice from the climate generation.”
The party has had two MEPs in the past and its strategists reckons it has a chance of winning the last seat in both Dublin and South constituencies.
It is also hoping to more than double its number of councillors from 12 to 25.