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Campaigners calling for climate legislation outside Dáil Éireann in 2012.
Why is the Climate Bill back in the news?
The Bill – officially called the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill – is one step closer to being made law after the Dáil voted to approve it on Thursday. The Bill will now go to Seanad Éireann and, provided it is approved by Senators, will then be cleared to be signed into law.
Why is this important?
The passing of this Bill into law is extremely important because it means that Ireland will, for the first time, have legislation relating to climate change. Once the Bill is passed, work can begin on developing Ireland’s National Low Carbon Transition & Mitigation Plan, which will plot a pathway to turn Ireland into a low carbon society.
What is Trócaire’s involvement in this?
We have been campaigning for climate legislation for eight years. Much of Trócaire’s work is dealing with the impacts of climate change on communities in the developing world. Many people in the countries we work in are facing increasingly prolonged droughts and extreme weather, making it extremely difficult for them to grow food.
While Ireland’s contribution to global climate change may be relatively small, we are one of the highest per capita polluters in the world so it is important that we take the steps necessary to play our part in tackling this global challenge.
So we should be really happy with this Bill?
Well, we’re very happy that the Bill is on the verge of being passed but we would have liked it to be stronger in some areas. Our main concern is that the transition and mitigation plan is not due to be revealed for 18 months after the Bill is passed – in other words, most likely the middle of 2017 – which we believe is too long of a gap.
On the plus side, the Government has agreed to insert a commitment to climate justice into the Bill, which underlines the fact that Ireland’s responsibility in tackling climate change stems from the need to protect the most vulnerable.
While we don’t think the Bill is perfect, the important thing is that Ireland will have a platform to begin to take action.
What happens next?
The Bill goes to Seanad Éireann for debate and will hopefully pass smoothly, allowing it to be passed into law over the coming weeks. Any delay at Seanad stage could cause a problem if the general election is called for before Christmas – if the Dáil term ends before getting to debate Seanad amendments it would not be signed into law before the election.
Provided it is signed into law, is that the end of Trócaire’s climate change campaign?
Absolutely not! Ireland still has so much work to do. We are not on track to meet our EU emission reduction commitments for 2030 so the National Low Carbon Transition & Mitigation Plan will be absolutely vital.
Ireland’s commitment to provide new and additional climate finance to assist those in need is still unclear. In line with the principle of climate justice, Ireland must make a strong climate finance commitment to support vulnerable communities in the developing world who are already disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Internationally, the UN Climate Summit in Paris in December is incredibly important. We will be joining the millions of people around the world who are calling for global leaders to take decisive climate action.
What can we do to help?
You can take to the streets of Dublin on November 29th – along with the Stop Climate Chaos network, we are organising a public rally on the eve of the Paris summit to call on politicians to prioritise the future of our planet. Sign-up on the Dublin Climate March and stay informed of our work on climate justice.