Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - EC Presidency Initiatives.

Bernard J. Durkan


1 Mr. Durkan asked the Taoiseach the initiatives he intends taking, in his capacity as President of the European Council, following the recent publication of the United Nations Report on Global Warming; if a procedure of a beneficial nature exists which can be followed; if Ireland is in a position to initiate any such procedures; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I assume that the Deputy is referring to the report of 25 May 1990 of Working Group I (Scientific Assessment of Climate Change) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This report is one of three parts of an overall report which is to be published in Advance of the Second World Climate Conference, which takes place in Geneva from 29 October to 7 November 1990. That conference will be particularly significant in that it should initiate the formal negotiations for a Global Climate Convention and associated Protocols which, hopefully, can be agreed and signed at the World Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil in 1992.

The issue of climate change and the role which the Community can play in helping to deal with it were discussed by Environment Ministers at their Council meetings in March and June this year with a view to developing the strongest united Community position on this issue in preparation for the Second World Climate Conference later this year.

In view of the widespread concern that has been expressed in relation to this issue which seems to be based on fairly sound scientific evidence, will the Taoiseach not agree that in his capacity as President of the European Council, Europe should be seen to give a lead in this area also? Having regard to the fact that the British Prime Minister has spent some time referring to this general issue recently, will he not agree that it would be opportune for him to become involved as a European in that area now?

Yes. Well, I am involved fully and so is the Minister for the Environment. The Community has taken this whole issue aboard and, as I said, two Environmental Council meetings have discussed it with a view to arriving at a Community position. One of the main objectives of our Presidency policy at the moment is to have a co-ordinated Community position on all these global issues. I hope to take that further at the forthcoming Summit in Dublin.

Are there specific problems which have been identified in relation to which there are specific remedies which could now be highlighted and put into operation, thus eliminating some of the problems we might have to face in ten years time?

Yes, there are. The problems are fairly well identified. This panel have given a very good scientific assessment of the position and on the basis of that assessment and other similar type of scientific reports and investigations, what must be done is fairly clear. It is just a question now of getting co-ordinated international action. That is the purpose of the forthcoming conference.

Will the Taoiseach not agree that Ireland should set itself the target of stabilising emissions of CO² by the year 2005 as many other Community countries have done? Can he assure the House that we will not be seeking derogation in some ways from this, given that so many underdeveloped countries will be asked to make an effort here? Finally, can he indicate the proportion of Ireland's land mass that would be vulnerable if there was an 80 cm rise in the sea level by the year 2030 as is predicted that would threaten our offshore islands as well?

We have no particular problem with the target mentioned by the Deputy. I am not aware of the situation with regard to our land mass but I will ask to have that calculation made and supplied to the Deputy.