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Climate Bill must translate into concrete actions

By editor - 22 October, 2015

Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice welcomes Government's Climate Bill but warns that concrete actions must follow to avoid dangerous climate change.

Catherine Devitt of Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice.

Catherine Devitt of Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice.

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice has welcomed recent legislative progress towards enacting the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill.

The Bill places climate-policy on a statutory footing for the first time, less than two months before pivotal climate negotiations occur in Paris.

However, the Bill must translate into concrete actions if we want to avoid dangerous climate change.

The considerably lengthy delay in drafting the Climate Bill means there is a significant urgency for it to be enacted.

In a statement, Catherine Devitt, the Jesuit Centre’s newly appointed environmental justice officer said, “Our National Climate Change Strategy expired in 2012, so this Bill is well overdue”.

Echoing the concerns of other environmental organisations, Ms Devitt acknowledged that the absence of an explicit emissions target for 2050, and the lack of urgency in revealing the National Low Carbon Transition and Mitigation Plan called into question the Government’s commitment to seriously tackle climate change.

“The Bill has been strengthened by the establishment of an independent Climate Change Advisory Council,” she stated.

She underlined that Ministers need now to take climate policy into consideration when developing their national action plans, and the inclusion of the principle of climate justice.

She added that the inclusion of climate justice in the Bill emphasised Ireland’s responsibility in mitigating climate change.”

Looking ahead, a real test of commitment towards achieving a low carbon society will be reflected in the upcoming Energy White Paper, as well as Ireland’s involvement in negotiations in Paris, the JCFJ has said.

In the Jesuit Centre’s recent issue of Working Notes, Professor John Sweeney notes the high expectations for what may be achieved at the negotiations.

However, he expresses caution in predicting a radical outcome, pointing to the reality of climate conferences over the past twenty years, and the prioritisation of national interests over the common good.

Ms Devitt pointed out that just last week, the Taoiseach was in Brussels arguing for special treatment for Ireland in relation to 2030 targets on emissions reductions.

“Clearly, the Climate Bill is just the beginning; action must follow, if we are to get real on climate change,” she said.

The Government’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill, which has now passed report stage in the Dáil.

The Bill is due to be enacted in the weeks ahead of world leaders gathering in Paris to chart a new course on dealing with global warming.

Addressing a summit in New York convened by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny called on leading nations to “show conviction” so that others would follow.

He said, “We will only succeed in tackling climate change if we adopt a sustainable and truly collective approach, one that is ambitious but fair, that is challenging but achievable . . . We have no time to waste.”

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