Climate Action Bill debate prompts heckling from rural TDs

Climate Action Bill Debate Prompts Heckling From Rural Tds Climate Action Bill Debate Prompts Heckling From Rural Tds
Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan © PA Wire/PA Images
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Michelle Devane, PA

Ireland can become a world leader when it comes to climate action, according to the Minister for the Environment.

The public was ready to show leadership and no longer be called “laggards”, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said in Wednesday's Dáil debate of the Climate Action Bill, during which he was heckled by some Independent TDs.

The proposed legislation, which was approved by Cabinet last month, commits Ireland to carbon neutrality no later than 2050.

It also includes a target of reaching a 51 per cent reduction in emissions by the end of the decade.

Mr Ryan said it was “clearly time” for Irish people to act, because “the natural world is being destroyed before our eyes”.

“It puts Covid into the shade in terms of the risk it brings to our people,” he said.

“It’s for that reason we see other countries starting to step up and say they too want to act.

“There is some signs of hope.

“The UK government coming out expressing real ambition about what they are going to do.

“The EU coming out and saying we are going to set really ambitious targets for action on climate.

“The US is likely to do the same.


“When I attend tomorrow’s Leaders’ Summit on climate action, called by (US) President Biden, I intend, and I’m glad to be able to say with certainty on behalf of Ireland, that we too share that ambition.

“We too stand up for climate justice. We stand up as a signatory of the Paris Climate Agreement. That we’re ready to turn that into real action, give it real meaning, give it real force.”

He said Ireland’s emissions per capita were high, but added the country was ready for significant change.


“Our people are ready for this,” he said. “Our people are ready to show leadership, no longer to be called laggards.

“We are ready and it’s time for us to act on climate.”

Mr Ryan was heckled by some rural TDs as he said the proposed legislation would offer “protection” to the Irish family farm and that young farmers would become the “frontline heroes of this transformation, of this climate action plan”.

Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae told the Dáil it was a “Bill to finish rural Ireland”, while Independent TD Mattie McGrath objected to the Bill being brought to the Dáil to be debated by the Minister.

Mr McGrath described the proposed law as rushed and ill-conceived.

Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin said the momentum and appetite for system change, not climate change, had been “steadily building” and that the urgency of the crisis had united people across the globe.

“They have marched in their droves to strike for climate, demand change, and to fight for their future,” she said.

“We must deliver emission reductions now, for our children’s future, our planet’s future, for our shared future.”


She added that climate action and climate justice were “inextricably linked”.

“We must ensure just transition that protects the most vulnerable in our society and ensures nobody is left behind, a transition that will centre on people and their communities.”

She described the Bill as a “momentous piece of legislation”.

“This Bill is the culmination of years of hard work, endless campaigning, and unwavering commitment by so many to protect our planet as best we can, to make it a liveable and safe place for generations to come and to transform Ireland into a world leader when it comes to tackling this climate crisis,” she added.

Sinn Féin TD Darren O’Rourke welcomed the legislation but said there is “room for further improvement”.

The party’s climate action spokesman added that fairness must be at the heart of the State’s new climate approach.

“This is a landmark piece of legislation, which will outlive any one administration, so it is important we get it right at this stage,” the Meath East TD said.


“For Sinn Féin, social justice must be at the centre of our approach to tackling climate change.


“We cannot allow for the most vulnerable to bear the cost, especially since the poorest in our society are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the least responsible.”

He added: “Climate action can be a huge opportunity for our society if it is combined with climate justice. If it is not, we are doomed to fail.”

Labour’s Duncan Smith said the bill represents a step forward towards “tangible climate action” but that there were still a number of issues of “huge concern” that could serve to “weaken the integrity of the Bill and undermine future climate action plans and carbon budgets”.

“Your understanding of climate justice as referenced in the Bill is to us very weak and there’s only one mention of a just transition in the entire Bill and even this one mention seems both narrow and constrained in definition and in ambition,” he said.

“We would like to see the definition of climate justice amended to recognise the need for equitable responses to the climate and biodiversity crisis that address inequalities and incorporate human rights at their core.”


The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill provides the framework for Ireland to meet its international and EU climate commitments and address climate change.

It is a key commitment in the Programme for Government.

The new law, if passed, would introduce a legal requirement for Government to adopt a series of economy-wide five-year carbon budgets, on a rolling 15-year basis.

It would also introduce a requirement for the Government to adopt sectoral emission ceilings for each relevant sector within the limits of each carbon budget.

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