Wednesday 17 July 2019

'It lacks ambition and clarity': Government accused of 'fudging' climate action plan

  • 'Lacks ambition, clarity and urgency'
  • Green Party's Eamon Ryan also said National Development Plan (NDP) has to change 'if we’re going to take climate change seriously'
  • Fianna Fáil offers a 'guarded welcome' to the plan
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA

Hugh O'Connell

The Green Party has accused the government of "fudging” its climate action plan saying it lacks ambition, clarity and urgency.

Reacting to the publication of the plan by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and ministers earlier today, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said it was welcome in that it showed climate had moved up the political agenda.

But Mr Ryan said: "There are also aspects of this where there is still a real lack of ambition, a real lack of clarity, a real lack of urgency not recognising that we have an emergency and we need to act as such."

He said the government was "kind of fudging" a plan to make Ireland a 'net zero emitter of carbon by 2050' in that the plan states only that it wants to put Ireland on a trajectory towards this net zero target.

Mr Ryan also said the National Development Plan (NDP) has to change "if we’re going to take climate change seriously" as the current NDP is "all about roads and doesn’t tackle climate change".

He also said there needed to be a new land use plan to outline where new forests will be planted and what bogs will be preserved. He said the phrase "consideration will be given" is used 67 times in the document launched by the government today.

Mr Ryan said transport is the "weakest link" in the whole plan.

He said that the government needs to switch to a 2:1 ratio of investment in public transport over roads and they need to put a combined 20pc of the transport budget into walking and cycling, as well as encourage a system of car-sharing.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil offered a "guarded welcome" to the plan but outlined concerns that it has not been costed and said that the government needed to do more than hold "a big set piece event".

"You cannot just produce a report with a level of ambition and not be prepared to follow that through," the party’s environment spokesperson Timmy Dooley said.

"Just because they appear in this report there is no guarantee that the government are going to implement them."

Mr Dooley also rejected earlier criticism from the Taoiseach who said the Fianna Fáil Green coalition had made a "major environmental error" by changing the tax treatment of cars with diesel engines which resulted in a surge in people buying diesel cars towards the end of the 2000s.

"The Taoiseach is in office now for eight years and has had plenty of opportunity to address any issues that arose in that period of time," Mr Dooley said.

He added that Fianna Fáil will support an increase in the carbon tax in the budget but said that there needs to be specific measures to deal with fuel poverty in the October announcement.

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