By Seraphine Habimana
At an extraordinary public meeting about Top Climate Chaos, members of the Oireachtas environment committee and civil society organisations condemned the Climate Action Bill for being weak, saying the government has ignored the Committee’s proposal to include climate justice.
The draft Bill on Climate Action was published by the government last month to tackle climate change and reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions between now and 2050. Since then some opposition parties and environmental groups continue to criticise that it does not include specific targets on emissions reductions.
At the crowded gathering in Buswell’s Hotel, they backed motions saying that the Bill fails to set a ‘numeric target for emissions reductions for the future’.
Speaking at the conference, Friends of the Earth Director, Óisín Coghlan said that the Government’s Climate Bill is too weak to deliver the low carbon future it promises.
“It’s deeply disappointing that the Government has ignored the proposals of the all-party Oireachtas Committee. Politicians have repeatedly diluted it in the face of pressure from vested interests, who have insisted on stripping the Bill of any legally binding targets. It is now dangerously weak,” said Coghlan, adding: “at the very least the Government must accept the recommendation of the Oireachtas Committee it asked to review the Draft and insert a clear definition of low carbon.”
Coghlan pointed out that a climate law which has neither binding targets nor a clear definition of low carbon would be like a car without an engine. “It may look well but it’s not likely to get you where you want to go.”
The Bill amounts to an 80 percent reduction in emissions from electricity, buildings and transport and carbon neutrality in agriculture and land use.
On the other side, one of the participants Josephine O’Byrne said she is happy with the Bill, adding it should be ready earlier, before facing the consequences.
“At least we have got the Climate Action Bill but we should have had it before realising that we are in danger, although we still have a very long way to go, but there is hope that in 20 years we can have the better world we want to have,” she said, adding that the Bill gives a sustainable future for Ireland.
During her keynote address Lidy Nacpil, convenor of the Philippines Movement for Climate Justice, discussed the consequences of climate inaction on her home country Philippines. Speaking, several years ago, of the campaign for keeping below one degree, that scientists have already said it is not possible to do that. “Now we have to adjust it to 1, 5 degree. We have no choice, we have to live this reality and accept it.”
Nacpil said the people who hear about targets in terms of degrees sometimes do not realize that even half a degree matters.
“It matters because for instance at only 0.8 degree in temperature we are already suffering thousands of deaths every time in Philippines, even if Ireland’s temperature may be stable or not, we are 7000 times of Ireland but how soon since most of Ireland is populated.”
The Climate activist pointed out even if with the good Bill or agreement, there is still need for National legislation to give a little more insurance for it to be implemented.
She added that although a lot has been done, efforts and commitment need to reach 2020: “We can achieve it with justice and equitable share.”