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Eamon Ryan at Government Buildings Jane Matthews
Climate Change

‘What have they proposed that actually brings us further?’ - Eamon Ryan slams SocDems and PBP

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said Ireland needs to do more to reduce emissions.

LAST UPDATE | 28 May

MINISTER FOR THE Environment Eamon Ryan has hit out at the Social Democrats and People Before Profit’s record on climate change after both parties criticised the Irish Government’s handling of the crisis. 

Minister Ryan asked today: “What have the Social Democrats proposed that actually brings us further?”

His comments were made in response to criticism from Social Democrats climate spokesperson TD Jennifer Whitmore who said it is “scandalous” that Ireland is facing billions of euros in fines because of the Government’s failure to meet its climate targets. 

Whitmore was referring to the latest assessment from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has projected that Ireland is to exceed both its national and EU climate targets. 

The assessment found that almost all sectors are set to exceed their national emissions ceilings for 2025 and 2030. 

The report said that Ireland is forecast to achieve a reduction of up to 29% in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This is well short of its target of 51%. 

Whitmore said today: “We do not have the luxury of time to avoid a climate emergency.”

“These latest results are the exact same as last year’s EPA projections, which beg the question: where exactly has Minister Eamon Ryan been for the past 12 months?”

Speaking to reporters outside Government Buildings, Ryan hit back at Whitmore and said the Social Democrats had the opportunity to be in government four years ago and didn’t take it. 

“I don’t believe they’ve anything additional or any magic wand should they be in office.

“They had that option. They could have gone  into office four years ago and been part of the contribution to the solution. Any suggestions they have will be gladly received.

“I don’t think they’ve anything different to say,” Ryan added.

Responding tonight to Ryan’s criticism, Jennifer Whitmore told The Journal that they were a “pathetic attempt to deflect from his own Government’s failures” to meet Ireland’s climate targets.

Whitmore said it was “laughable” that Ryan was only now discussing the need for charging infrastructure to be rolled out across the country to encourage the switch to electric vehicles.

“The Social Democrats have consistently put forward constructive and necessary suggestions to deal with climate emissions. Unfortunately this Government prefers to rely on spin over substance, and our environment will pay the price for that,” Whitmore added.

Minister Ryan and the Green Party also raised the ire of People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy today who said there is a “gulf” between the rhetoric of the Green Party and its actions in Government. 

Private Jets

Murphy pointed to the Green Party’s European election manifesto which calls for a complete ban on private jets as an example of this. 

“We have a bill to ban private jets, we’ve brought it forward through first stage, we’re going to bring it forward through second stage and I will tell you in advance that the Green Party are going to vote against our bill to ban private jets because the Government is going to oppose it,” Murphy said. 

When this suggestion was put to Minister Ryan today by The Journal, the Minister said: 

“I’ve been in the Dáil for the last 20 years, I’ve heard People Before Profit change their position when they wanted to nationalise oil exploration and double down on it. They saw the future of this country was the massive expansion of gas and oil.”

When asked if the Government would support the bill, Ryan said: 

“We have lots of other legislative measures on climate, which we need to get through. That measure wouldn’t affect Irish climate targets. Today, that’s what we’re focused on – how we meet our Irish obligations.

“We will go all out to deliver that, I hope with the help of People Before Profit rather than them promoting oil and gas, which is what they’ve done in the past.”

‘Frightening’ speed of climate change

Elsewhere, Minister Ryan warned that we are on track to 2.5 degrees of warming with “huge risks” attached to it.

“We have to go further, we have to do more. That’s absolutely true,” Ryan said. 

“We have additional measures that go beyond what [the EPA] has already modelled. Last week we went to government with a plan for solar power in businesses and communities and farms that can deliver the extra renewables to help us get back on track.”

He added: “The scale and speed of approaching climate change we’re seeing is never more frightening.”

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