Climate Change Bill not a priority for Government

Press release, 4 November 2011

The Justice and Peace organization Afri has expressed dismay at the announcement by the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan that a Climate Change Bill will not be a priority for the Coalition Government. As Ireland reels from the latest experience of extreme weather events, severe flooding at least partly attributable to climate change, Afri spokesperson Joe Murray said he found it almost incomprehensible that Mr. Hogan could deem the issue not to be a priority.

Mr Murray pointed to the near hysterical reaction of farming and business groups when such a Bill was previously proposed as a clear indication of who dictates policy in Ireland on this issue. “It is clear that Mr. Hogan’s environmental policy now constitutes an abject surrender to these vested interests of industrialized farming and big business, underlined by his decision not to impose statutory targets for emissions reductions,” said Mr Murray.

Mr Murray noted that the Coalition government’s response to the issue could be thrown in sharp contrast to the approach of the recently elected Danish government, whose new Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, has vowed to reduce carbon dioxide outputs by 40 % over the next 10 years. In comparison, the Irish goal was a reduction in 20% on the 2005 emission levels, and the achievement of this target now seems less likely given the Minister’s stance. “The example of Denmark shows that it is possible for governments to stand up and be counted on this crucial issue,” Mr Murray observed.

Having just returned from Kenya, where a major famine is affecting the North of the country as well as Somalia and Ethiopia, Mr. Murray said that Mr. Hogan’s decision not to make climate change a priority was all the more scandalous, given the contribution of Northern Hemisphere countries to the huge burden of such climate-change-related events that are afflicting developing countries particularly severely.

As Michael D. Higgins is about to assume the office of the Presidency, Afri called on the Labour Party in particular to be true to the principles which he espoused in his political life and honour the commitment to introduce a climate change Bill as set out in the Programme for Government.

See also Coalition’s climate policy shift condemned, by Harry McGee, Irish Times, 4 November 2011.

Interesting article by Frank McDonald in the Irish Times, 1 December 2011, critical of Ireland’s lack of action on climate change as Minister Phil Hogan goes to the climate talks in Durban.

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