Stop Climate Chaos, a coalition of environmental, development and faith-based organisations, has today said the Government is operating double standards when it comes to the draft climate legislation. The Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht, tasked with consulting and reporting on the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill before it goes through the Houses of the Oireachtas, is failing to provide stakeholders and the public with an inclusive and transparent process.
Stop Climate Chaos, as well as some members of the Committee, has been calling for the publication of the submissions received by the Committee at the end of April, a request that has been flatly rejected by the Chair of the Committee. With the hearings due to be held in two weeks time, there is no indication of who will be invited to present to the Committee or what their proposals are.
Ciara Kirrane of Trócaire said ‘We understood that the Joint Committee was eager and enthusiastic to work on the Climate Bill, that they looked forward to engaging with a range of stakeholders and having a real impact on the legislation. However, the impression we are now getting is very different, as if meaningful debate on the Bill is no longer a goal of the Committee. This process lacks any transparency and is without credibility.’
David Healy of Oxfam said ‘Making the submissions publicly available would allow a greater level of engagement and scrutiny by interested parties and the public. The whole point of this process is to encourage positive and fruitful dialogue with the range of views that exist on this issue across society. It is an opportunity to build consensus, understanding and a sense of participation.’
Last Friday, the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government launched a public consultation on the Aarhus Convention. The Convention is about ensuring meaningful public participation in environmental decision-making. Judith Turbyne of Progressio said ‘In his statement Minister Hogan recognised the role the public, including environmental NGOs, can play in environmental protection and decision-making. If the precedent being set by the current process is anything to go by, the prospects for the implementation of Aarhus are dismal’.
Stop Climate Chaos also point to the lack of interest the Government has shown in listening to public opinion on climate legislation to date. Last year 623 citizens responded to a public consultation, over 80% of whom felt it was very important to set statutory emission reduction targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050. No such targets have been included in the draft legislation, confirming what Stop Climate Chaos say is a ‘disregard for peoples’ views on how to tackle the climate crisis’.