'Silent' launch of eco report criticised


THE GOVERNMENT’S “silent” launch of its major policy on sustainability has been severely criticised by an environmental group.

The 116-page policy document on sustainable development was unveiled by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan on the steps of Government Buildings yesterday.

However, only photographers were allowed attend and reporters were not allowed entry to ask questions about the paper. The Department of Environment press office later sent out a press release containing quotes from the Taoiseach.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth criticised what it portrayed as the “failure” of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to speak at the launch.

The group said the landmark document, which contains 70 ways to achieve a more green society, was the main paper the Government would present at the Rio Earth Summit later this month. It said the document needed to be discussed and debated in the Dáil.

The actions proposed range across all policy areas including health and education. They comprise expected legislation such as the long-awaited climate change bill and policy measures such as water charges.

But the paper has also proposed a number of new – potentially controversial – measures, principally, new environmental taxes that will replace labour taxes.

The key proposal is for a shift of the tax base away from investment and labour, towards taxing pollution.

“This would help contribute to the Government’s objective of creating a resource-efficient and smart, green economy,” the report stated.

The Green Party said the promises were not matched by action. Party leader Eamon Ryan said the Government was abandoning new investment in public transport; promoting genetic modification technologies; and allowing destruction of bogs.