Citizens Assembly: 97% say climate change should be at centre of government policy

Update 4.30pm:The Citizens' Assembly has voted overwhelmingly in favour of Ireland taking measures to address climate change.

The Assembly has voted to make 13 recommendations for State action on climate change.

The results have been announced at Malahide in Dublin and showed 97% of delegates voting in favour of climate change being at the centre of government policy-making.

80% agreed they would pay higher taxes to reduce carbon emissions, and 96% supported the government taking immediate steps to support a transition to electric cars.

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition described the the outcome as “a clarion call for the Government to immediately step up climate action”.

Director of Friends of the Earth Oisin Coghlan said: "These common-sense, practical recommendations for climate action will not get us from laggard to leader. But they will allow us to catch up with our European neighbours. If implemented by Government they will end nearly a decade of dithering and delay”.

Head of Policy and Advocacy at Trócaire Niamh Garvey said: “Climate change is here, it is now, and it is everywhere. It’s impacting most profoundly on those who have done least to cause it. For the communities that Trócaire works with, the impacts of climate change are already too much.”

The Assembly's 13 recommendations are:

  • 98% of the Assembly's members recommended that to ensure climate change is at the centre of policy-making in Ireland, as a matter of urgency a new or existing independent body should be resourced appropriately, operate in an open and transparent manner, and be given a broad range of new functions and powers in legislation to urgently address climate change;
  • 100% of the members recommended that the State should take a leadership role in addressing climate change through mitigation measures, including, for example, retrofitting public buildings, having low carbon public vehicles, renewable generation on public buildings and through adaptation measures including, for example, increasing the resilience of public land and infrastructure;
  • 80% of the members said they would be willing to pay higher taxes on carbon intensive activities;
  • 96% of the members recommended that the State should undertake a comprehensive assessment of the vulnerability of all critical infrastructure (including energy, transport, built environment, water and communications) with a view to building resilience to ongoing climate change and extreme weather events. The outcome of this assessment should be implemented. Recognising the significant costs that the State would bear in the event of failure of critical infrastructure, spending on infrastructure should be prioritised to take account of this;
  • 99% of the members recommended that the State should enable, through legislation, the selling back into the grid of electricity from micro-generation by private citizens (for example energy from solar panels or wind turbines on people’s homes or land) at a price which is at least equivalent to the wholesale price;
  • 100% of the members recommended that the State should act to ensure the greatest possible levels of community ownership in all future renewable energy projects by encouraging communities to develop their own projects and by requiring that developer-led projects make share offers to communities to encourage greater local involvement and ownership;
  • 97% of the members recommended that the State should end all subsidies for peat extraction and instead spend that money on peat bog restoration and making proper provision for the protection of the rights of the workers impacted with the majority 61% recommending that the State should end all subsidies on a phased basis over 5 years;
  • 93% of the members recommended that the number of bus lanes, cycling lanes and park and ride facilities should be greatly increased in the next five years, and much greater priority should be given to these modes over private car use;
  • 96% of the members recommended that the State should immediately take many steps to support the transition to electric vehicles;
  • 92% of the members recommended that the State should prioritise the expansion of public transport spending over new road infrastructure spending at a ratio of no less than 2-to-1 to facilitate the broader availability and uptake of public transport options with attention to rural areas;
  • 89% of the members recommended that there should be a tax on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture. There should be rewards for the farmer for land management that sequesters carbon. Any resulting revenue should be reinvested to support climate friendly agricultural practices;
  • 93% of the members recommended the State should introduce a standard form of mandatory measurement and reporting of food waste at every level of the food distribution and supply chain, with the objective of reducing food waste in the future;
  • 99 % of the members recommended that the State should review, and revise supports for land use diversification with attention to supports for planting forests and encouraging organic farming.

Update 12.18pm: Oisin Coghan, Director of Friends of the Earth, has urged the Government to adopt proposals on tackling climate change that were discussed in today's meeting of the Citizens Assembly.

"The draft proposals for climate action from the Citizens Assembly would not get us from laggard to leader," he said.

"But they would allow us to aspire to being average. They are mostly about playing catch-up with our European neighbours.

"If adopted and implemented they would end nearly a decade of Government inaction."

Earlier:

The Citizens Assembly is to discuss climate change for a second day today.

Delegates are expected to hear about how Ireland is on course to miss their targets by a wide margin.

Members will take part in a secret ballot later to finalise their recommendations to submit to the Oireachtas.

Kevin O'Farrell, who has spent the weekend as an observer for Cyclist.ie, claimed that the transport sector is lagging behind when it comes to bringing about real change.

"the presentations were a bit disappointing, because they were just reiterating what the Government's doing or not doing, not emphasising investing in sustainable transport and continuing business as usual," he said.

"Increased investment in cycling infrastructure, the recommended level would be about 10% of the transport budget - it's not even close to that at the moment."


 

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