Bottle deposit scheme amongmeasures to reduce plastic packaging
A deposit scheme for plastic bottles and help for farmers to support low-carbon food production are among the measures proposed by the Citizens' Assembly to reduce plastic packaging and slash carbon emissions.
Environmental lobby group Stop Climate Chaos has called on the Government to establish a dedicated Dáil committee to implement the recommendations on how Ireland can become a leader in tackling climate change, amid growing concern about rising emissions.
The Citizens' Assembly has made 17 recommendations; 13 last November when it completed its deliberations and another four yesterday in its report laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The new recommendations include a call to implement an information campaign around the benefits of tackling climate change, steps to reduce plastic packaging, support for the agriculture sector to move to low-carbon production and a requirement that all new buildings should have a zero carbon footprint, which would dramatically slash household power consumption.
A ban on single-use plastics is proposed, particularly in supermarkets for food packaging, and the introduction of penalties for businesses which fail to comply.
A deposit scheme for plastic bottles is also mooted, along with a incentives for homeowners to retrofit their properties, making them warmer and cheaper to heat.
Stop Climate Chaos spokesman Oisín Coghlan said the Government needed to take the report as "seriously" as it did the Assembly's recommendations on the Eighth Amendment, which was subject to Dáil scrutiny by the Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. This committee reported last December.
"A dedicated Oireachtas Committee should be established immediately to take the report forward," Mr Coghlan said.
"If implemented, the recommendations for climate action in the Assembly's report would move Ireland from its current position as a laggard not a leader, as the Taoiseach told the European Parliament in January."
The group said creation of a new committee would ensure the Oireachtas could "thoroughly examine" the recommendations, and produce specific proposals to "significantly improve" current policies.
The most recent figures show that some 61.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions were generated across the economy, primarily from power generation, agriculture, transport, waste and the residential sectors. Emissions are at the same level as 2009, but continue to rise. The Environmental Protection Agency has said they are moving in the 'wrong direction'.
A spokesman for Environment and Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten said the Oireachtas would decide how the report would be assessed.
"The Assembly chair has submitted the report directly to the Oireachtas. The Oireachtas rather than the minister must decide how consideration of the report will be taken forward. The minister will then engage with the Oireachtas and/or relevant committee as appropriate," they said.