Reacting to the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 –Empowering Communities for Climate Action launch in Dublin today, Green Party Councillor and Spokesperson on Climate Change, David Healy, said the plan is ‘business as usual’.
Speaking today, he said that the Government still refuse to face the scale of the challenge facing Ireland, that a complete economic transition is needed, not tinkering around the edges of the economy.
“The Government has today re-announced measures in the National Development Plan addressing climate change. Those measures are welcome in themselves; however, they do not go far enough. They still don't get it that climate policy is about a fundamental transition of the economy, not an add on to business as usual.
“In the electricity generation sector, the Government has still failed to take the necessary decision to stop subsidising the burning of peat to generate electricity. Environmentalists and economists have united to criticise this perverse subsidy for decades, most recently in a scathing article by John Fitzgerald, Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council. But still we are stuck with a "co-firing" subsidy in the guise of renewables which actually guarantees higher emissions than if it wasn't in place, instead using the money to achieve a just transition for the communities and workers in the Midlands.
“In the housing sector, the investment in retrofit is vital, and should be increased. But the irony is that the Department of Housing has just completed a public consultation process on Building Regulations in which it proposes to continue to allow the installation of new fossil fuel heating systems. So while one Government department is spending billions to take them out, developers can still put fossil-based systems into new developments.
“In the fastest growing emissions sector, transport, the government, having delayed public transport investment for years, is now pointing to finally going ahead with projects as some sort of change. The fundamental change we need is that which the Citizens' Assembly recommended - to spend twice as much on public transport as on private motor transport. We are still doing the opposite. The National Development Plan contains a long list of major road schemes which will lead to more traffic and more emissions. As a result the EPA and all other predictions are for transport emissions to keep rising rapidly.
“When it comes to agriculture, land use and forestry, it is business as usual. Today's report doesn't even mention the restoration of our bogs, to stop them continuing to emit carbon to the atmosphere. Its forestry policy is business as usual instead of the step change to large scale mixed continuous cover forestry and restoring which we require.
“The Government needs to realise that our climate challenge will not be met by tinkering around the edges of the policy changes required.”