18 Dec 2020, 11.46
The Joint Committee on Climate Action today launched its report Pre-Legislative Scrutiny on the draft of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020.
The Committee makes a number of recommendations that it believes will strengthen the Bill following the PLS process, which included seven public meetings held with experts in October and November, and a further 13 meetings of the Committee to consider the evidence and submissions and agree the final report.
Committee Chairman Deputy Brian Leddin said: “The purpose of the Draft Bill is to strengthen the statutory framework for more effective governance of the State’s Climate objectives. Key elements include a National Climate 2050 objective, climate action plans and strategies, carbon budget, changes to the role and composition of the Climate Change Advisory Council and Strengthened Oireachtas oversight of Climate Policy.
“We were conscious of the wide-ranging impacts of climate policy and the urgency of the climate crisis, so the Committee confined itself to scrutiny of the proposed legislative provisions. Our objective in seeking inputs from experts was to focus on legislation and this report also maintains this legislative focus, keeping to current and potential textual provisions, rather than exploring climate policy more generally.
“The Committee wants this Bill to be major a step forward in the legal framework within which Climate Policy will be developed in the years ahead. It must establish a net zero emission target for 2050 for the first time; introduce binding five-year carbon budgets; introduce the requirement for government to break this down into specific sectoral targets and make individual Ministers directly accountable for those targets. We want to see the Bill strengthened in a number of ways.”
The Committee’s main recommendations are:
- The Bill should be drafted in a way which creates clear legal obligations and ensures legal accountability in the future.
- The Scottish Climate Act is worthy of further exploration and could help Ireland prepare for the changes that are necessary if we are to meet our goals.
- It is recommended that the Minister address in the Bill and/or revert to the Committee with a comprehensive plan to ban the importation of fracked gas and specifically to ban LNG terminals in Ireland within the year 2021.
- The Bill will need to be accompanied by appropriate measures for climate resilience.
- The Bill focuses on mitigation and should empower and oblige the Climate Change Advisory Council and future Governments to plan for adaptation.
- The Committee has set out its views on just transition, climate justice, biodiversity and nature-based solutions. The implementation of these, and other principles pointed to in these recommendations, should be included in climate planning and reporting mechanisms as provided for in this Bill.
- The entire Bill should be checked for compliance with the Aarhus convention.
The Committee makes a further 71 recommendations across the following eight areas identified during the meetings with stakeholders:
- Language used in the Bill;
- The role of the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC);
- Target Structure;
- Greenhouse Gases including Biogenic Methane;
- Nature-based solutions and biodiversity;
- Carbon Dioxide removal/negative emissions technologies;
- Just Transition and Climate Justice;
- Accountability including consequences for shortfalls.
Deputy Leddin said: “This Committee has undertaken and completed an extensive exercise in pre-legislative scrutiny. A range of expert witnesses appeared before us and others sent detailed written submissions. The level of engagement by all Members in putting together and finalising the report was a testament to the seriousness that the political system is taking climate action.
“The scale of the challenge is so great that it must be owned by all parties and none. The hallmark of this report is consensus and cooperation. We will need such efforts across all of politics and society as we go forward if we are to successfully tackle this existential crisis.”
Deputy Leddin added: “I would like to express my appreciation to all the witnesses for their contributions and to the members of the Committee for all their work on this process. I hope that this report will help to inform the legislative process and make a valuable contribution to the forthcoming legislation.”
The Joint Committee on Climate Action has 14 Members, nine from the Dáil and five from the Seanad.
The Committee’s report Pre-Legislative Scrutiny on the draft of the Climate Action and Low-Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020 is available on the Oireachtas website.
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