"A massive missed opportunity": Ireland passes weak climate law

19 January 2015

The Irish government has finally published the long awaited Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015. Friends of the Earth Ireland welcome the publication of the bill, but expressed dismay that this current draft does not include any targets for reducing carbon emissions and allows for a potential delay of up to 2 years before any plan to reduce carbon emissions in Ireland is implemented.

Commenting, policy and campaigns manager at Friends of the Earth Ireland, Kate Ruddock said: "We haven't had a plan in place to reduce carbon emissions in Ireland since the National Climate Change Strategy expired at the end of 2012. This bill allows for further delay until 2017 before any plan to reduce emissions is developed and means that individual sectors such as energy, transport or agriculture will not be obliged to make any changes to reduce carbon emissions for at least another 2 years. The Environmental Protection Agency is already predicting Ireland will not meet its European 2020 emissions reduction targets and without a plan in place it is hard to imagine a scenario where we can reduce our emissions at all."

The draft bill had amendments proposed for it by a parliamentary committee – to include the government's own definition of low carbon, to guarantee the independence of the Climate Advisory Council, and to include the principle of climate justice – none of which were included in the final legislation.

Kate Ruddock continued: "This is a massive missed opportunity. Looking at the energy sector, we have one of the most carbon-intensive systems in the world, relying on fossil fuels for about 90% of our energy use. Despite the growth in renewables, carbon emissions from the electricity sector continue remain high because the market is allowed to favour the most polluting fuels such as coal and peat to generate electricity. A law aimed at combating climate change should change this, but this bill as it stands will not."