The new Climate Bill presently going through Dáil Eireann is anti-Irish, and this approach is being further locked into these new laws through the present EU re-negotiation of our 2030 climate targets.
Don’t get me wrong, climate change must be addressed and I believe we do need a new climate law to make that happen in Ireland, both urban & rural.
As Ireland’s first Climate Minister, I did not have the legal tools available to bring about the type of sustainable change that was needed.
In fact, I envy the way Eamon Ryan can push things along. But in the rush to get things done our economy and rural economy are being pushed under a bus when there are alternative approaches which could be taken to achieve the same end goal.
Sadly, the Climate Bill as presently constituted will decimate our economy and our rural economy and do little in return to achieve our global goal of reducing emissions.
But why is this Bill anti-Irish?
The climate rule book has been developed by industrialised Countries, so the tools used by our EU colleagues to address the climate problem are based on the bulk of emissions coming from industry, cities and intensive agriculture. In Ireland 37% of our population live in rural areas, and we have just 2 cities over 100,000 population namely Dublin & Cork.
So whichever way you look at it, our climate challenges in Ireland are all about land use & dispersed land use in particular: extensive agricultural practices; isolated rural communities reliant on cars; a large number of small towns; the disproportionate scale of Dublin to the rest of the country; I could go on……
Therefore land use is far more important in an Irish climate context than anywhere else in Europe and our failure to quantify our carbon sequestration, how our land & what we grow on it can absorb and store carbon, puts us at a distinct disadvantage when negotiating climate targets from an Irish perspective.
Our climate challenges are the polar opposites to our European colleagues yet the EU climate rules are designed to address EU challenges not Irish challenges.
So back to Ireland and this anti-Irish Climate Bill.
This inbuilt ‘industrialised country’ bias is everywhere from the environmental zealots who shoot down any alternative approach right through to the Climate Change Advisory Council, which will now under this new law set our domestic climate targets.
To give a simple example of this environmental bias: in the 4 annual reviews of the Climate Change Advisory Council there is just a single scant reference in the 2018 review to broadband where it states “potentially the National Broadband Plan will also have an impact on climate objectives”. That’s the Council’s only comment on the impact of broadband since its establishment.
Yet during the period of the four years in question it was one of the most significant long term steps taken by Government to reduce transport emissions, particularly in rural communities where there is no public transport.
Why would someone commute long distances if they could sit at a hot desk in a local village? Why would someone sit for an hour in traffic if they could sit at their desk at home? And we all see the impact such measures had on our emissions during the first lockdown.
There has been a failure by the Climate Advisory Council to acknowledge this fact even though 37% of our population, unlike anywhere else in the EU, live in rural areas and many commuted long distances to a desk job before lockdown.
Because this does not tie in with the continental European definition of climate action.
By that definition it’s far better to slaughter 500,000 cattle – and importantly it’s much better at securing the headlines.
And now this new Climate Bill wants to enshrine this EU bias and Irish climate bias into our laws. That’s why this Bill is anti-Irish.