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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 28 Mar 2007

Vol. 186 No. 17

Carbon Fund Bill 2006: Committee and Remaining Stages.

Sections 1 to 10, inclusive agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed "That the Bill do now pass".

I thank the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. This is a small but important Bill. It gives us an opportunity to contribute to the global problem of emissions, while maintaining competitiveness, by investing in developing countries. I congratulate the Minister on his foresight particularly for having appointed the National Treasury Management Agency which has recently proved its worth, to deal with this investment. I am delighted that the Bill has been completed.

I wish to be associated with Senator Brady's comments. While we are considering the big picture we also need to get the detail right. I welcome the Bill and thank the Minister's officials for all their endeavours.

To digress for a moment, will the Minister use his good offices and direct line to the born-again squeaky green Taoiseach who is going to Donegal tomorrow where he will perform several duties?

He has 26 duties.

Probably, and counting at this stage because he will be under serious pressure from his many candidates in that constituency. Could the Minister use his good offices to encourage the Taoiseach to go to a conference in Redcastle which is considering the environment and alternative energy sources? The Minister is probably aware of Inishowen Rural Development Limited, IRDL, a hard-working group which is studying best practice models in Sweden, Norway and Finland which they will discuss tomorrow. As the Taoiseach is on the green warpath he may find time tomorrow to call into the Carlton Redcastle Hotel.

I thank the Seanad for an interesting debate. To respond to Senator McHugh's last point, whatever I might suggest to the Taoiseach or any other leader with a conscience about the future of the planet, I would not suggest that he follow the very bad example of Finland which is building several nuclear plants. The same applies to the equivocal example of Sweden which is always put forward as a model for environmental policy and which disappointingly seems to be going in the nuclear direction too.

I referred to examples of best practice as the Minister will appreciate.

The Senator is right. The Taoiseach could lecture both countries and point to the exemplary standards we adopt, although he is not the type of person who lectures. We have made in successive Governments with the agreement of all parties in the House the most morally defensible decision not to go for nuclear power. The Norwegians are on God's side too and on our side in that respect.

The Minister brought the nuclear issue into the debate.

It was the Senator who introduced Sweden, Norway and Finland.

I was referring to best practice.

I said I would not take any lectures from Sweden or Finland, which is the first western European country in a decade to build a nuclear reactor.

It has many other examples of best practice.

Not in that regard. Its excuse for doing this is that it is using the Kyoto Protocol, which is a disappointment.

I thank the Members for their contributions to the debate. The Government is committed to meeting the Kyoto Protocol and doing so in a sustainable, and morally appropriate, transparent way that is fully consistent with the Kyoto Protocol. We will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 15.2 million tonnes each year which is a significant challenge. The point has been made several times during the debate that this does not depend on the Government alone but that every citizen must play his or her role.

I thank all those who contributed to the debate here and in the Dáil. Sadly, some have adopted what I regard as the rather eccentric view that we should support the Kyoto Protocol but reject one of its central tenets. That debate is in the past. The Bill under discussion is good and I am very grateful to both Houses for their assistance in the matter.

Question put and agreed to.
Sitting suspended at 8.15 p.m. and resumed at 8.30 p.m.