National Development Plan first real test of Government’s climate credentials in wake of IPCC report

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LABOUR Party Finance and Public Expenditure Spokesperson Ged Nash TD said today, in light of yesterday’s IPCC report, that the Government had to prove its bona fides on the climate crisis and that a number of crucial tests will emerge over the coming months.

Deputy Nash said:

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“A national conversation has to take place about what needs to be done to meet and surpass our revised targets. In this regard, the government has an obligation to be honest and clear about its plans.

“While it is fine to talk about the Climate Act being in place, it is only a framework for action and not a plan in itself. The Act is not a test of Government. What will follow is.  Climate action has to be at the heart of everything government does.

“Given the existential challenge posed by climate change the Opposition has by and large afforded a degree of cross party support to the government’s efforts, while being critical of areas where government can and should do better.

“The time for government dithering is over and the Labour Party will show no tolerance for any ambiguity on the implementation of the climate action plan or any failure to meet targets.”

Deputy Nash detailed a number of immediate challenges and opportunities facing the government and the climate action agenda.

The test of its seriousness on climate, he said, will be the clarity with which climate will replace Covid as a key priority for Government.

He said that the major tests and challenges include:

  • The revised National Development Plan which is to be published this autumn. It has to show a clear focus on climate adaptation and mitigation issues at an unprecedented level.  The time for talking on public transport, charging infrastructure, carbon sinks is over.  We need clear plans and targets.
  • We need revised mitigation and adaptation plans.  The National Mitigation Plan of 2017 has been struck down by the courts and clearly the adaptation plan of 2017 can no longer be fit for purpose in light of yesterday’s IPCC report.
  • We need an energy plan to ensure we are in a position to avail of our huge national advantages in terms of wind power.  We need to be ambitious but while we make the necessary changes we cannot allow any single sector to jeopardise the project.
  • Carbon budgets have to be clear and transparent.  As things stand, climate scientists do not understand how our agricultural strategy fits into our climate strategy.  In the interests of farmers and us all that has to be clear.  We need a joined up strategy consistent with the science.  The time for fudges is over.  We need to support climate-related sustainable activity in our farming sector.
  • Climate budgets are as important as our annual budgets.  This is a job not just for the Department of the Environment but for the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure as well to assist in delivering a whole of Government approach.  Tax and spending policy must support climate goals.  My experience is that this key point is not fully understood by Government.
  • We need to elevate climate up the political agenda.  The 2019 Climate Action Plan talked about the Department of the Taoiseach taking ownership of the strategy.  There is zero evidence that his has happened.  Minister Ryan, however committed and well intentioned, cannot drive this strategy alone. It is a whole of Government exercise.
  • We need an effective public information campaign, sooner rather than later, explaining the Government strategy and the science on which it is based.  This campaign must be consistent with climate science and stress the urgency of the challenge we all face.

Deputy Nash concluded:

“As a generation of public representatives we are faced with an unprecedented challenge.  Failure is not an option.  It is in our national interest to be leaders on climate. Those countries that step up to the plate over the next ten years will not only be respected but will prosper too – economically, socially, culturally and environmentally.”