Citizens’ Assembly Report A Mandate For Revolutionising Ireland’s Climate Policy

The Citizens’ Assembly will publish its report on climate chang. The report includes the Assembly’s 13 recommendations on ‘how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change’. These were agreed by the Assembly after four days of expert presentations in 2017 and following a major public consultation which received close to 2000 submissions.

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition* is calling on the Government to respect the mandate of the Assembly by immediately establishing a dedicated Oireachtas Committee to take the report’s recommendations forward, as was done with the Assembly report on the eight amendment to the Constitution.

Commenting on the report, a Stop Climate Chaos spokesperson, Oisin Coghlan, said:

“The Government must take the Citizens’ Assembly report on climate as seriously as it took its report on the Eight Amendment.

“A dedicated Oireachtas Committee should be established immediately to take the report forward in line with the constructive approach of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

“If implemented, the recommendations for climate action in the Assembly’s report would move Ireland from its current position as a laggard not a leader, as the Taoiseach told the European Parliament in January.”

Sorley McCaughey, Head of Advocacy and Policy at Christian Aid Ireland commented:

“Climate change is already having devastating effects on vulnerable communities around the world who have done the least to fuel the crisis.

“If the Government is truly committed to national and EU climate change obligations, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations must be immediately developed into constructive policies in order to drastically reduce our polluting emissions and reverse our position as the climate laggard of Europe.”

In line with the Eighth Amendment process, the creation of a new Committee would ensure that the Oireachtas is given the opportunity to thoroughly examine the Assembly’s recommendations and to produce specific proposals to significantly improve current policies. Ireland’s deteriorating climate record has been consistently raised by national and international authorities in the past year with the Taoiseach most recently acknowledging Ireland’s position as a climate laggard at the European Parliament.

Stop Climate Chaos has written to the Dáil Business Committee asking that the Assembly’s report be referred an Oireachtas Committee.

The most striking recommendations to the Government from the Citizens’ Assembly include:

  • Prioritise public transport investment over new road infrastructure spending at a ratio of no less than 2-to-1. Currently the majority of state investment goes to road building which means more cars and more emissions.
  • An end to State all subsidies for peat extraction on a phased basis over the next five years. That would bring peat-firing for electricity to an end a lot sooner than 2030, which is Bord Na Mona’s current plan. An end to subsidies for peat extraction would cover not just the subsidies for burning peat for electricity but the subsidies for burning biomass with peat as well.
  • Establishment of an independent watchdog with clear powers to make sure the State sets and meets five-yearly targets for emissions reductions. The introduction of such targets were removed from climate legislation by the government before it passed in 2015.
  • The Citizens’ own willingness to pay higher taxes on carbon pollution and their recommendation that the agriculture sector should also apply the ‘polluter pays principle’ to its emissions, such that the resulting revenue is reinvested to support climate friendly agricultural practices for farmers.

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