I thank the witnesses for their presentation. Previous speakers raised the very important issue that just transition is not named in the heads of the Bill. I suggest that a new paragraph (z) be added to section 3 after paragraph (y). That would be a natural place to insert a paragraph on just transition as there seems to be a gap there. Just transition is not the same as climate justice. Both terms need definition because they are not abstract concepts. Just transition, for example, has been defined by the International Labour Organization, ILO, as reflected in the Paris Agreement.
The Bill refers to the Minister and Government having regard to certain factors. More important, however, there seems to be a walking back from concrete, solid commitments Ireland has already made. Why is there not an interim target in the Bill? Mr. Carroll stated the intention was to achieve a 7% reduction in emissions every year and reach a certain reduction by 2030. Why is this not provided for in the Bill? Why should we, as legislators, not want to see it in the Bill? We would then have a bird in the hand rather than relying on what future birds there might be and what future bushes might remain. Interim targets have to be dealt with in the Bill. Why is there not a separate section on this?
There is a lack of clarity. Subsection (4) of the new section 3 states: "For the purposes of performing their functions under sections 6B and 6D the Minister and the Government shall have regard to the matters specified at paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (3)." It does not state that the Minister will not have regard to all the other caveats and issues. Is Mr. Carroll suggesting that in the case of sections 6B and 6D, the Minister will only have regard to the factors specified in paragraphs (a) to (d), the greenhouse gas emissions inventory and others?
Why are we speaking about article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCC? What about the other articles? Has it been decided not to worry about them? Where is article 4, for example, which commits to having the highest possible ambition in achieving the goals? That is a real concern. We signed up to the UNFCC.
What of the mitigation or adaptation commitments and the European Union targets? We speak of them as obligations. If they are obligations, why are they not in the Bill? I seek the rationale for not putting a strong 2030 target in the Bill? It seems to be legislatively poor and inconsistent with the agreements we have made and other obligations we have signed up to. Another problem arising from the absence of a 2030 target is that the sustainable development goals, which are part of Agenda 2030, have vanished and are not in the Bill. There is a provision for sustainable development but nothing about the sustainable development goals, which are a concrete set of specifically relevant measures. The goals on climate but also on sustainable cities would surely be relevant to the Bill and the roadmaps being drawn up. Those are 2030 targets. Is the Department's focus on one date, 2050, the reason it has left out the sustainable development goals and related targets and commitments?
I have other concerns on which I will not have time to dwell. Value for money is not defined. We know there is significant movement in this area. Even in procurement, we now use terms such as the "most economically advantageous", "price-quality ratio" and so on. "Value for money" is an outdated term that is not usually used.
I am particularly concerned by the line, "the policy of the Government on climate change". This is placed on a par with what we signed up to at the UN and EU. If the policy of a future government on climate change is that it is not especially worried about it, will that cancel out everything? We pass legislation all the time in these Houses and it is not usual practice to have a get-out-clause for any future government, one that provides for action unless of course the particular Minister does not really want to act. That is an extraordinarily unusual legislative measure.
I am concerned also about the inclusion of the phrase "carbon leakage". This goes against clear language requirements. A definition must be included. This is not a commonly used phrase and I suggest it is intentionally confusing. If I asked any member of the public what carbon leakage means, no one would say it means we have to compete with people or we will lose business. That is not what people would think it meant. They would think it means emissions. We need to have clear language. If the Department wants to include the word "competition", it should do so and we will try to take it out. If it want to talk about non-territorial emissions, let us put that in the Bill.
All of my questions are on the legislative aspects of the Bill. I am extremely concerned by the suggestion that in the wonderful scenario where emissions in a previous budget period fall below the target, that is, we reduce emissions by more than the set target, we will carry them over and use them in the next five years. How is that compatible with the highest possible ambition and the principles of climate justice? When drafting this Bill we need to remember that not only can we not negotiate with the coronavirus, we cannot negotiate with climate. There cannot use Christmas and birthday logic or a promise to pay on Tuesday. We need to nail this down.
People have said there is no clear accountability in this Bill. I am not interested in looking back in 2050 and asking which of the in-between Ministers was responsible or whether the advisory committee was responsible. As legislators, we are responsible for the legislation. That is what we need to answer for. I would like us to know that the legislation is succeeding by 2030. Perhaps Mr. Carroll will address those issues.