Citizens’ Assembly set to debate climate change

The Citizens’ Assembly is to meet this weekend to discuss and make recommendations to the Government on how Ireland can be a leader in tackling climate change.

As part of their consideration of the topic, assembly members will hear presentations on the transport and agriculture sectors and from national and international academics and practitioners on leadership in climate change.

The presenters include Anne Graham, chief executive of the National Transport Authority; Brian Caulfield of Trinity College; Andrew Kerr, executive director of the Centre for Carbon Innovation and Professor of Climate and Low Carbon Innovation at University of Edinburgh; Professor Gary Lanigan, research officer with Teagasc; and Alan Matthews, professor emeritus of European agricultural policy.

This afternoon, a panel discussion on leadership in agriculture and food will take place with Longford farmer Andrew McHugh who is involved in the Smart Farming initiative, Iseult Ward from Foodcloud, and Tony Garraghy of Lough Boora Farm.

Tomorrow morning will see a presentation by the chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council, Professor John Fitzgerald, on the membership and work of the council and the council’s view on current climate change policy in Ireland.

Tomorrow afternoon, the members will reach their recommendations by ballot paper voting. Each question on the draft ballot paper will be subject to discussion, including private roundtable discussions and question and answer sessions to examine the draft and facilitate any changes suggested and agreed by the members.

Assembly chairwoman Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said the weekend would likely involve “rigorous debate and discussion” on how Ireland can tackle climate change more effectively.

“This weekend, following feedback from the members and with the additional guidance of the submissions, we will consider the relationship between climate change policies and transport and agriculture, and examine examples of international leadership in climate change,” she said.

“Following the presentations, the members will be asked to make their recommendations. This is the third time that the members have voted by secret ballot and if previous weekends are anything to go by, we can expect an afternoon of rigorous debate and discussion.”

In advance of the assembly meeting, Transport Minister Shane Ross and Environment Minister Denis Naughten welcomed the engagement with what the Government considers “one of its most pressing challenges”.

In a statement, the ministers indicated that they are looking forward to the report and recommendations of the assembly on both tackling emissions reduction in transport and the role of citizen engagement in addressing the challenges of climate change.

They said that “a series of measures announced in Budget 2018 clearly reflected this Government’s determination to make progress on decarbonising transport”.

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