Environmental Policy: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Sean Sherlock on Wednesday, 18 December 2019:
“That Dáil Éireann:
recognises that:
— environmental pollution and degradation are all too often the by-products of our economy;
— the European Union has operated the polluter pays principle since 1987, and today this principle is enshrined in Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;
— while overall air quality in Ireland is relatively good compared to other industrialised countries, poor air quality persists in many areas due to traffic and the burning of solid fuels, leading to the premature deaths of over 1,500 people every year according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
— the water quality of nearly half of Ireland’s river sources is unsatisfactory, according to the EPA, and less than one per cent of river sections can be described as 'pristine', while nine of our rivers have the status of 'seriously polluted';
— thousands of tonnes of waste are collected annually from litter or illegal dumping; and
— 150 or more quarries around Ireland are unauthorised and unregulated, and cause pollution and the destruction of habitat;
declares that:
— Ireland needs to adopt fundamental changes in our economic model, in favour of stronger environmental regulation, to prevent harm and to hold accountable those who cause environmental harm; and
— the best model for Ireland to emulate is a north European social democratic market economy, such as exists in Denmark, Finland, Sweden or the Netherlands; and
calls on the Government to:
— recognise that under-regulation of economic activity or lax enforcement of existing rules allows greater levels of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions to occur;
— legislate to reinforce the polluter pays principle, including a requirement for greenhouse gas emissions to be included as a core component of company accounts in enterprises with 50 or more employees and all enterprises in highly polluting industries;
— immediately enact a nationwide ban on smoky coal, which has already been proven to work in many larger urban areas without legal challenge;
— produce a National Clean Air Strategy;
— produce a National Clean Water Strategy;
— urgently present and implement a plan to regulate all quarries and to eliminate illegal dumps; and
— provide a quantified account of how the measures in the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 will reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions to reach the target of 33 million tonnes by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 3:
To delete the words “immediately enact a nationwide ban on smoky coal, which has already been proven to work in many larger urban areas without legal challenge;” and insert the following:
“— not introduce a nationwide smoky coal ban at this time, as to do so carries a serious risk of illegality unless the burning of peat, turf and wet wood are also included, and to instead proceed on an incremental basis and in a proportionate way;
— immediately extend the existing smoky coal ban, to thirteen towns where there are particular air quality issues because of the burning of solid fuels".
-Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion regarding environmental policy. On Wednesday, 18 December 2019, on the question that the amendment to the motion be agreed to, a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 70(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 38; Níl, 76; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Malcolm.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Curran, John.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Ward, Mark.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Brendan Ryan and Sean Sherlock.
Amendment declared lost.

We move now to amendment No. 2, the Fianna Fáil amendment.

I move amendment No. 2:

(a) To insert the following after "recognises that:":

"— a nationwide ban on smoky coal had been committed to by the three previous Government Ministers with responsibility for the environment;" and

(b) To insert the following after "calls on the Government to:":

"— ensure a just transition for workers and communities affected by the phase out of fossil fuels is prioritised, through the immediate deployment of available funding streams and the establishment of an independent taskforce;”

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 1, which is the Sinn Féin amendment, can still be moved.

I move amendment No. 1:

To insert the following after “net zero emissions by 2050.”:

“— produce a plan with clear deadlines for the energy retrofitting of all residential dwellings, which should outline clear funding commitments and ambitious targets for the energy retrofit of both local authority and private dwellings;

— increase investment in the deep retrofitting of all social housing stock held by local authorities and approved housing bodies;

— expand the range of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland grant measures to include double glazing of single glazed buildings;

— increase grant scales up to 100 per cent for lower income deciles, with a 5 per cent incremental downward tiered scale to 50 per cent for higher income deciles;

— weight all measures towards improving efficiencies for the lowest G-rated properties, to achieve mid-range C-ratings;

— introduce low interest Green Mortgages and low interest retrofit top-up options to existing mortgages;

— examine the introduction of supports for group purchasing schemes, to enable collectives of householders to undertake certifiable self-retrofit initiatives to gain savings through bulk purchases and efficiencies of labour;

— commission the Economic and Social Research Institute to undertake a new National Survey of Housing Quality by December 2021; and

— commission the Central Statistics Office to quantify and correlate the tenure and solvency status of each dwelling in the State.”

Amendment agreed to.

I have read the proposal from the Green Party.

I move amendment No. 4:

To delete all words after “declares that:” and insert the following:

“— Ireland needs to adopt fundamental changes in our economic model by moving towards a circular economy;

— the shift to a circular economy requires both changes in economic incentives and stronger environmental regulation, to prevent harm and to hold accountable those who cause environmental harm;

— the best model for Ireland to emulate is a north European social democratic market economy, such as exists in Denmark, Finland, Sweden or the Netherlands;

— environmental action should be taken alongside measures to improve economic vitality and promote social progress; and

— the best way to achieve these aims simultaneously is by striving to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and calls on the Government to:

— develop a National Land Use Plan with a view to protecting biodiversity, reducing carbon emissions, improving air, water and soil quality and enhancing our quality of life;

— redraft the National Development Plan to align it with the National Planning Framework so that urban sprawl and high-emission, long-distance commuting is limited;

— take the role of an international leader rather than laggard in climate action and to drive the implementation of the European Green Deal;

— recognise that under-regulation of economic activity or lax enforcement of existing rules allows greater levels of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions to occur;

— legislate to reinforce the polluter pays principle, including a requirement for greenhouse gas emissions to be included as a core component of company accounts in enterprises with 50 or more employees and all enterprises in highly polluting industries;

— immediately enact a nationwide ban on smoky coal, which has already been proven to work in many larger urban areas without legal challenge;

— produce a National Clean Air Strategy;

— produce a National Clean Water Strategy;

— urgently present and implement a plan to regulate all quarries and to eliminate illegal dumps; and

— provide a quantified account of how the measures in the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 will reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions to reach the target of 33 million tonnes by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.”

I ask your leave, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, to change the Green Party amendment in order that it does not delete any part of the motion, but merely inserts the contents of our amendment.

I have read the amendment and with the permission of the House I deem that it is in order.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.

As there will not be another round of wishing each other a happy Christmas, I wish all Members a happy Christmas. There is still some work to be done by some of us yet.