Climate Plan ignores plight of poorest and most vulnerable

March 16, 2017

Climate Plan ignores plight of poorest and most vulnerable

As drought pushes millions of people to the brink of famine in East Africa, Ireland yesterday published its Draft National Mitigation Plan on Climate Change. 

The plan is Ireland’s first in ten years on how it intends to reduce the harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.

Unfortunately, Trócaire is disappointed by the lack of new ambition in the plan. 

This is the first climate plan following the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement, which stated very clearly the need for a significant increase in action and ambition on climate change in all countries – we don’t see that increase in ambition in this Plan.  

The draft Plan gives no acknowledgement, reflection or engagement with the level of ambition that Ireland committed to when it ratified the Paris Agreement in late 2016.

Current levels of climate change are already having devastating impacts on the communities that Trócaire works with.  From storms and flooding in Central America to drought and hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa, climate change is destroying lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable people who have done least to cause the problem.

Kitui, Kenya, 2010

The reality of climate change: This photograph was taken in 2010 in Kitui, Kenya. It shows people who have walked for miles to the dried up river Enziu, where they must dig for water. This desperate situation is now the norm across areas of Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia and other East African countries where climate change had a profound impact on rainfall patterns, leading to protracted, life-threatening periods of drought. Up to 70 million people in the region are facing extreme food insecurity.

The Plan fails drastically in acknowledging the economic, human and environmental costs of failing to take action. This is despite the fact that Ireland has the 8th highest emissions per person among OECD countries, with emissions increasing by 3.7% in 2015.  

Ireland is only one of two countries in the European Union which will miss its 2020 emission reduction targets. Absence of a concrete plan now will only further the challenge of complying with Ireland’s 2030 targets and long-term 2050 national objective of reducing CO2 emissions by 80%.

That there will be a public consultation on the plan is to be welcomed, and it is also positive to see that climate change will feature in the Citizens’ Assembly later this year. 

We need a real and honest conversation about the urgency of the climate crisis and how we respond as a country.  We are already seeing gains in poverty reduction being significantly eroded by climate change. If we fail to act adequately over the next five years, it may be impossible to deliver on the commitments in the Paris Climate Agreement. The implications for all countries would be devastating, but the poorest and most vulnerable will pay the highest price. 

What's next?

A public consultation on the draft plan is now ongoing until 26th April, after which the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment will prepare a final draft to be submitted to the Cabinet in the first week of June.  

Trócaire and our allies in the Stop Climate Chaos coalition will be making a submission to the consultation, and will be contacting supporters to invite them to support our submission and recommendations.