To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his view on proposals to amend the Climate Bill. – Clare Daly.
National Policy Position:
*An 80% reduction in emissions from electricity, buildings and transport and carbon neutrality in agriculture and land use – should be included in the Bill.
*The members of the Expert Advisory Body should all be independent, and the independence of Body itself should be enshrined in the Bill, as is the case with the Fiscal Advisory Council.
*The principle of climate justice should be recognised in the Bill to ensure Ministers have regard to the issue of equity and historic responsibility for climate change.
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly)
In April 2014, the Government approved the General Scheme of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development Bill . The Bill is listed among the Bills expected to be published during the Autumn Session, as part of the Government’s Legislation Programme. Drafting of the Bill is currently being finalised within the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. I intend to seek Government approval to publish the Bill in the coming weeks, with the objective of introducing it and progressing its passage through the Oireachtas as quickly as possible thereafter.
The General Scheme of the Bill was developed , following extensive public consultation processes both by my Department and by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht. In the latter regard, the Joint Committee’s Report on the outline Heads of the Bill was given full consideration, and a number of changes were made to reflect its findings, including reducing the interv al between proposed National Low-Carbon R oadmaps from 7 to 5 years and enabling the National Expert Advisory Body on Climate Change to publish directly its annual and periodic review reports.
With specific regard to a mitigation target for the year 2050, the General Scheme of the Bill explicitly commits the State to compliance with EU and international obligations in respect of climate change. Ireland already has greenhouse gas mitigation targets up to the year 2020, and discussions are ongoing with respect to targets up to the year 2030. This target-setting process will undoubtedly continue in relation to the periods up to the years 2040 and 2050. Given that Ireland will likely be subject to binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets up to the year 2050 as part of the EU process in any event and that a long-term vision of low-carbon transition is already set out in the National Climate Policy Position, published in April 2014, I do not consider it either appropriate or necessary to include a national 2050 target in legislation.
The General Scheme of the Bill provides for the establishment of a National Expert Advisory Body on Climate Change to provide independent advice to Ministers and the Government on the development of National Low-Carbon Roadmaps and National Climate Change Adaptation Frameworks and to publish annual and periodic review reports. The Expert Advisory Body is to comprise a chairperson and between 8 and 10 ordinary members, four of whom shall be ex officio members comprising the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, Teagasc and the Economic and Social Research Institute. In terms of appointing a chairperson and the remaining ordinary members , it is important to note that the Government will consider the range of qualifications, expertise and experience necessary for effective performance of the advisory body . T he inclusion of the ex officio members will help underpin this much-needed expertise and experience on these matters, as well as providing a link with relevant agencies working in the field so as to ensure effective implementation. Within this context, it should also be noted that is intended to put in place appropriate arrangements so that the Expert Advisory Body can operate effectively in performing its functions appropriately. Accordingly, I am not minded to alter this arrangement.
Finally, with respect to climate justice, one of the most effective ways of lessening the effects of climate change in developing countries is for developed countries such as Ireland to engage in developing further their national mitigation measures in respect of greenhouse gas emissions, and the General Scheme of the Bill provides for just such action. Furthermore, it would be important to note in this context that despite difficult economic circumstances, Ireland has maintained significant support, including public finance, for climate action on adaptation in developing countries. While the vast majority of Ireland’s annual climate finance returns come from Irish Aid, Ireland’s overseas development programme which falls under the remit of my colleague , the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade , it should also be noted that my own Department also made a contribution of €33 million over two years during the Fast-Start Finance period (2010-2012) supporting the Global Climate Change Alliance and the Least Developed Countries Fund.