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Govt to finalise 'very ambitious' climate change plan next month

Govt to finalise 'very ambitious' climate change plan next month

The Government is set to publish a new climate change action report by mid-June in a bid to outline Ireland's plans to address the crisis - and woo a resurgent Green party before the general election.

Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton confirmed the plan is being finalised by the Government's sub-cabinet committee on climate change amid ongoing public pressure for new green policies.

Mr Bruton told RTE Radio's Morning Ireland programme that, despite the fact the Government is not planning to stop providing licences to companies extracting fossil fuels, ministers are taking the climate crisis "very seriously".

Noting the fact an Oireachtas committee report based in part on recommendations from the Citizen's Assembly has been agreed by all parties, he said the Government intends to introduce policies linked to the document in the coming weeks.

"The Government has taken this very seriously. My job is to take this report and carve out a pathway to reaching the commitments to 2030.

"It is going to the cabinet sub-committee today and there is a very advanced draft of that, and then to cabinet a short time thereafter.

"It will be very ambitious, seeking a massive shift away from fossil fuels, power and heat, and electrification," Mr Bruton said.

The Climate Action and Environment Minister declined to say what exact policies are currently being worked on.

However, asked specifically about whether the Government intends to continue using fossil fuels and giving companies exploration licences for the fuels - a situation criticised by the Green party - he confirmed this is the case, saying: "Our problem in Ireland is excessive dependence on fossil fuels, not exploration.

"When the sun is not shining we will have to fall back to gas and other fuels in need."

Mr Bruton also indicated the plan will be linked to a carbon tax, which he said "everyone has signalled" will be introduced in the autumn budget.

"Yeah, I think everyone has signalled that and now there is a substantial amount of agreement... We have moved on a lot," he said.

The Government climate action plan was discussed by the cabinet sub-committee on the issue today and is a consequence of the Oireachtas committee on climate action's own report.

However, the timing of the decision to make it such a priority, just days after Friday's local and European elections vote saw a Green surge across the country, has led to a widespread view the document will be used to woo the Green party into a future government with Fine Gael.

Greens leader Eamon Ryan has made it clear he is willing to speak with any party, repeatedly saying in recent days that the only way to address the climate crisis is "to win the next four or five elections" and to convince all parties of the merits of taking action.

Green party MEP candidate for the Midlands North West constituency, Saoirse McHugh has said she will quit the party if it joins forces with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

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