Mitigation Plan Reinforces Governments Weak Position On Climate Action

The Government today finally published its draft National Mitigation Plan – Ireland’s first plan in ten years on how it intends to reduce the harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.  A requirement under Ireland’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act (2015), the Plan must establish how Ireland will reduce emissions from the buildings, agricultural, transport, and energy production sectors.

An analysis of the draft Plan conducted by Stop Climate Chaos has revealed that it fails to fully take into account the transformative ambition and action that is now urgently required to prevent the harmful effects of climate change.

On reviewing the document, Catherine Devitt, environmental justice officer with the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, and a spokesperson for the Coalition argued:

It has been ten years since Ireland’s last climate action plan, and this expired in 2012. Despite what the science is now clearly telling us, despite the unfolding evidence, and despite Ireland’s ratification of the Paris Agreement, this draft fails to offer anything new in terms of ambitious and just climate action. We urgently need to have a national conversation that is aligned with the science, the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and the principles of justice and fairness. I am afraid that the draft National Mitigation Plan will not provide this space.’

Suggesting a lack of seriousness by the Government to respond to the urgency and gravity of climate change, the draft Plan gives no acknowledgement, reflection or engagement with the level of ambition that Ireland committed to when it ratified the Paris Agreement in late 2016. Instead, the document frames the potential for Ireland’s climate response as being reliant on ‘cost-effectiveness’, and in particular,over-emphasises the financial costs and budgetary implications associated with implementing climate measures.

The Plan fails drastically in acknowledging the economic, human and environmental costs of failing to take action. This is despite the fact that Ireland has the 8th highest emissions per person among OECD countries, with emissions increasing by 3.7% in 2015.  Ireland is only one of two countries in the European Union which will miss its 2020 emission reduction targets. Absence of a concrete plan now will only further the challenge of complying with Ireland’s 2030 targets and long-term 2050 national objective of reducing CO2 emissions by 80%.

Commenting, Cliona Sharkey, policy officer with Trócaire and a Coalition spokesperson said:

The Plan needed to establish how the Government intends on reducing emissions, especially in agriculture and transport. The Plan locks Irish society into regressive and unjust actions for the next five years. This will not only hurt our economy in the long-term as the impacts of climate change worsen, but will also have significant environmental and human costs, affecting the most, poorest communities here in Ireland and abroad’

The time of the draft’s publication means that it will fail to capture necessary media and public attention. The eagerly awaited draft comes at a time when most of the Cabinet are out of the country as part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, which became law on December 10th 2015, Minister for Climate Action, Denis Naughten TD, is obliged to submit a final action plan on how Ireland will cut climate pollution (called the National Mitigation Plan) to Government by 10th June 2017. Although the draft Plan is a welcome stage in the implementation of the Act; in the absence of clear leadership and ambitious action, it further cements Ireland’s position as a climate laggard.

Earlier this week and in advance of the draft publication, Stop Climate Chaos identified five tests that should be applied to evaluate the credibility of the document.

 

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