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Climate Change

New research on progress by 23 developed countries towards the climate finance commitments made in Copenhagen in 2009 to reach $100 million a year by 2020 suggests that just 3 countries are paying their way. Ireland is not one of them.

The Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints an ominous picture.  Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.

Ireland has exceeded its the EU targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions for 2013-2020 by 12.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and meeting our 2030 targets will be challenging according to new projections from the Environmental Protection Agency for Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 to 2040.

The European Court of Auditors Special Report on the Common Agricultural Policy and Climate has found that the €100 billion of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funds attributed to climate action had little impact on such emissions, which have not changed significantly since 2010 and CAP mostly finances measures with a low potential to mitigate climate change.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has published a report on the impact of the instruments and measures of the current Common Agricultural policy (CAP) 2014-2020 on the territorial development of rural areas, with a focus on socio-economic aspects including social inclusion.

The OECD Environmental Performance Review of Ireland 2021 recommends that climate, circular economy and biodiversity policies need to be swiftly implemented.  The report notes the Ireland has failed to decouple the economy from environmental pressures and significant challenges exist in terms of emissions from transport and agriculture.   

The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill contains welcome commitments.  In order for it to be a success, significant investment and political will is required. Reducing emissions requires the implementation of policy decisions made in the interest of a sustainable future rather than short-term sectoral interests. This is where our Government and all members of the Oireachtas must show leadership and act in the national interest.  

Social Justice Matters 2021 guide to a fairer Irish Society provides a key reference point for anybody working on Irish social justice issues in 2021.  

Ireland ranks 11th out of 15 comparable EU countries in this year’s Sustainable Progress Index, commissioned by Social Justice Ireland.  The index comprises three dimensions: economy, society and environment.  Ireland is ranked 10th out of the 15 countries on the economy.  On the social index, Ireland is in the middle of the ranking, in 6th place.  Ireland, however, scores last on the environment index which suggests we are facing significant challenges in meeting our environmental targets.   Delivering on the Programme for Government commitments on climate action becomes even more important as a result of these findings.

If Ireland is to succeed in addressing the challenges we are faced with, the pathway to doing so must be founded on consensus, must be well-managed, and must be properly evaluated.  A deliberative decision-making process, involving all stakeholders and founded on reasoned, evidence-based debate is required.