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Dublin: 21 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019
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Trócaire "mystified" by "weak" draft climate change bill

The charity said it is disappointed at what it describes as a “row back” on the all-party draft bill on climate change.

Ice floes float in Baffin Bay above the Arctic circle as seen from the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent
Ice floes float in Baffin Bay above the Arctic circle as seen from the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent
Image: JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

TRÓCAIRE HAS SAID it is “mystified” at the climate change bill proposed by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, saying it is disappointed that it has no binding targets for emission reductions.

The charity works in 28 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, and as part of its work campaigns on climate change.

Targets

The Heads of a Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Bill 2013 was published last week. According to Trócaire, it “has no binding targets for emission reductions, nor does it contain carbon budgets or a clear pathway for emissions reductions”.

A climate bill without targets shows that our government is still not getting the urgency of climate change for its own citizens and for those people in developing countries who have not contributed to climate change but who are suffering the most from its impacts.

Dr Lorna Gold, its Head of Policy and Advocacy, said that climate change became a major part of Trócaire’s agenda in the mid 2000s, after leading experts in different fields of development said that climate change would be one of the critical issues facing the world in 10 years.

Trócaire became a founding member, with Friends of the Earth, of the Stop Climate Chaos group.

“Around 2009 we were really happy in a sense with the development of the all-party bill on climate change,” said Gold, describing how this tried to set very high standards for tackling climate change which would be binding targets for Government and also put in place a very robust monitoring mechanism to ensure government stuck to its targets.

“Our history on this is not good,” said Gold.

The national climate strategies have been in place since the beginning of the 2000s. And those documents always remained very ambitious and aspirational but never translated into concrete actions.

The all-party bill was modelled on the UK bill, so they “were very disappointed” with this new bill. “We were almost mystified about why this bill is so weak compared to the bill that was on the table and backed by many in opposition”.

They are also disappointed that there are plans for “roadmaps” every seven years in the bill, when Trócaire believes they should be at least every three years.

Rowback

The impact of climate change on the developing world includes humanitarian disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, droughts, and famine, which are “becoming a new norm in certain regions of the world”.

Due to erratic rainfalls and temperatures, farmers can’t sustain livelihoods, such as in the Horn of Africa, where a chronic food crisis is developing.

Another aspect Trócaire sees emerging is what Gold termed “ill thought-through international responses to climate change”, such as the EU directive on biofuels. Investors and governments signed up to produce bio fuels crops, but hadn’t thought of the impact of taking these away from feeding people to fueling cars.

“We are not against biofuels per se – it needs needs more science, more studying,” said Gold.

“I don’t think that this bill will achieve very much in terms of moving us towards (international) targets,” concluded Gold. “This does not set a strong enough legislative backbone in order to get us to move in the right direction.”

Trócaire will be working to influence members of the Oireachtas and influence public opinion on this issue.

For us it seems a row-back to promises made in opposition – things have got worse in terms of climate change, yet government now produces this bill.

Read: Shortfall in greenhouse gas emissions target may cost Ireland €300m>

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