Declaration must now lead to government action on climate: Campaigners

The declaration that there is a climate emergency must lead to Government action campaigners and opposition politicians have said.

Declaration must now lead to government action on climate: Campaigners

The declaration that there is a climate emergency must lead to Government action campaigners and opposition politicians have said.

Ireland became the second country in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency after a Fianna Fáil amendment to the Oireachtas report on Climate Change was accepted in the Dáil without a vote on Thursday night.

While Green Party leader Eamon Ryan welcomed the "historic moment" he said the declaration will be "useless" unless it is followed up with Government action.

"What this reflects is the public appetite for change," said Mr Ryan, who hit out at the Government's "atrocious" record to date on tackling climate change.

He said the vote was a clear signal that we now have to stop issuing oil and gas licences and that radical changes need to be made to the National Development Plan especially around transport.

"The National Development Plan only brings us a third of where we need to go so we need to close the gap. The Government now need to follow up the words with actions," said Mr Ryan.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) said the declaration must now act as "a wake-up call following a decade of climate inaction by successive Governments".

IFA environment chairman Thomas Cooney said the first national climate road map out to 2030 was published in 2009 but the key actions that would deliver the greatest climate impact were not acted upon adequately.

He said: "Farm scale and community-based renewable supports were not put in place, to support the displacement of fossil fuels. Adequate supports for retro-fitting homes and buildings with appropriate insulation and lighting were not introduced and the development of forestry on unenclosed lands was hindered.

"Instead we have lost a decade to acrimony and finger-wagging including trying to make farmers the fall guys for decades of climate inaction in this country."

But Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton said fossil fuels are still "essential" and would continue to be used despite the cross-party climate emergency declaration.

“Fossil fuels are an essential part of the transition [to decarbonisation]. We are not in a position now to talk about ceasing fossil fuel exploration,” he said.

Mr Bruton added that there is "no silver bullet" when it comes to climate action and said policy actions from Government alone would not solve the problem.

"The challenge of climate disruption requires urgent but sustained action in Government of course, but also in every home, on farms, in every enterprise, in our travel patterns in our buildings, in our power system and that's the sort of change we have to get buy-in from the community to achieve," Mr Bruton told RTÉ's Sean O'Rourke programme.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said a new complex for homeless people in Dublin is an example of how his department can take action against climate change.

Focus Ireland has renovated a previous homeless hostel into a 31 unit development for more than 70 individuals and families.

Mr Murphy said: "We are also looking at things like zero energy buildings, those new regulations come into force this year and next for residential homes but also commercial homes.

"We are looking at things like passive houses, retrofitting existing housing stock and all of those things are going to be addressed in the climate action plan coming from Minister Bruton and we have been working very closely with him on that," said Mr Murphy.

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