Irish government publishes weak climate bill

26 February 2013

The Irish Government today published a Climate Action Bill which Friends of the Earth Ireland has described as, "like a compass with no needle".

Friends of the Earth Ireland says the bill is simply a rehash of the earlier Fianna Fáil / Green Party Bill but with all the targets taken out. The draft will now be passed to the environment committee which will consult stakeholders and report to government on how to improve it.

Oisin Coghlan, Friends of the Earth Ireland director, commented: "A climate bill with no targets is like a compass without a needle. It doesn't show you the way. We cannot support a climate Bill with no targets. It fails the most basic test. It is too weak to deliver the low-carbon Ireland it promises."

Friends of the Earth Ireland is campaigning for a climate law for Ireland as part of its Big Ask campaign with the Stop Climate Chaos coalition. The group is pushing for the law to contain targets to change the terms of the debate from whether we cut emissions to how we cut emissions. The draft bill fails that test.

Molly Walsh, policy and campaigns manager at Friends of the Earth Ireland, said: "This Bill won't do what it says on the tin. A 'Climate Action' Bill with no 2050 target won't deliver climate action. Vested interests will say 'not us, not here, not yet'."

Ireland has initiated five climate bills since 2009 and all have had an 80% target for emissions reductions by 2050. EU leaders have recognised that this is the least we will have to do and have set it as an objective.

The Irish government now says it won't set an 80% reduction target in its bill as it isn't sure exactly how to achieve every last percentage of the reduction. But that is the point of a target. Setting it drives the policy and technological innovation and the adoption of measures that enables it to be met. Without the legal target the imperative to act is gone.

The Irish government ran a very extensive public consultation last year to which over 600 people and organisations responded: 90% of respondents said they want to see Ireland's emissions targets enshrined in national law, not just for 2020 but for 2030, 2040 and 2050.

Friends of the Earth Ireland's Big Ask campaign for a strong climate law continues.