Climate change bill 'weak' and will hit investor confidence
A new law that seeks to make Ireland a low-carbon economy is "critically weak" and will fail to inspire "investor confidence", experts have warned.
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 sets out how Ireland can move to a more environmentally friendly economy up to 2050.
It is the State's first climate change Bill.
But it has drawn sharp criticism from various environmental groups, who say it fails to provide a definition of what a low-carbon economy should be.
They also say it does not guarantee that an expert advisory council -to be established to help drive policy - will be "truly independent".
They also highlight the absence of any specific targets for emission reductions.
Environmental lawyers, ClientEarth, carried out an independent analysis of the bill, comparing it to climate legislation around Europe.
Their report found that, in its current form, it is "too weak" and "falls short" of the required standard to ensure good governance of Ireland's low-carbon transition.
"This Bill is a golden opportunity for Ireland to encourage renewable energy investors by setting long-term, legally binding national targets which support the EU's targets," said Jonathan Church, energy lawyer at ClientEarth.
"It doesn't do this. The expert advisory council doesn't look independent, and that alone will handicap it from the start."
The report concludes that, unless the bill is revised at committee stage in the Dáil, it will do little to move the economy on to a less polluting pathway.
"Setting long-term national targets would allow Ireland to lead in tackling climate change, strengthen its position in climate negotiations, and provide the certainty to attract essential investment," Mr Church added.
He pointed out that other European countries are beginning to acknowledge this, by legislating for binding 2050 targets. In the UK, binding targets are set every five years.
Jim Clarken, CEO of Oxfam, said the report should "set alarm bells ringing across Government".
"Unless the bill is revised, it will do little to address the fact that Ireland is already struggling to meet its climate commitments," he said.
If the Government do not make amendments to the proposed legislation, it will show they are not serious about tackling climate change."
Oisin Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth, said the report highlights the gap between what is proposed, and what is best practice.