Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015: Report Stage (Resumed)

Amendment No. 32 is ruled out of order.

Amendment No. 32 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 33 to 35, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 33:

In page 6, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:

“(c) specify the projected level of emissions once the policy measures outlined are agreed,”.

This proposal is an important change. Basically, it provides that the national mitigation plan would specify the projected levels of emissions once the policy measures outlined are agreed. The mitigation plan could be a Walter Mitty plan, in that it could be vague and aspirational but not mean a great deal. We are proposing that we should specify clearly the projected levels of emissions once the policy measures outlined have been agreed. It is the logical thing to do. It is a plan, but it is similar to saying that one has a road map but one is not sure which road one will take. One is putting in many options, yet one is setting out on the journey. Once we have agreed the policy measures we should then outline the projected levels of emissions based on our national and international obligations. It is a logical step forward and it is important that we do it.

I will speak on amendment No. 34 which states:

In page 6, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:

“(e) specify the projected total national emissions for the period of the plan on the basis of all the policy measures specified in the plan.”.

The national mitigation plan should include the projected total national emissions for the five year period covered after all of the policy measures specified in the plan have been implemented. The purpose of this amendment is to embed a little more detail in the legislation. As it stands the Bill does not require that the plan achieve anything at all. There are no targets, measurements or solid objectives, just fluff about the ill-defined low carbon economy. This amendment would mean that, in theory, the plan had some type of objective or at least those drawing up the plan would have to make an argument for the decisions that made some type of logical sense as regards the specific outcomes of individual actions specified in the plan.

I do not know if people noticed it, although I am sure some did, but yesterday Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of the England, made an interesting statement about this very issue. He outlined in very stark terms the financial risk of global warming and he acknowledged there was a danger the assets of fossil fuel companies could be left stranded by tougher rules to curb climate change. He said the exposure of UK investors, including insurance companies, to these shifts is potentially huge, with 19% of FTSE 100 companies being in natural resource and extraction industries. He said:

The challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come. ... once climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late.

He went on to say the carbon budget the world could afford, if it is to meet the 2° Celsius target, amounts to between one fifth and one third of the world's proven reserves of oil, gas and coal. If that estimate is even approximately correct, he said, it would render the vast majority of reserves stranded - oil, gas and coal that would be literally unburnable without expensive carbon capture technology, which itself alters fossil fuel economics. A wholesale reassessment of prospects, especially if it were to occur suddenly, could potentially destabilise markets.

Those like Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, have not been the ones we have associated very much with taking strong action on climate change. I think people are slowly waking up. I would like the Government to take his thoughts on board because we seem to be very slow to wake up to what is happening. Scotland was doing things better many years ago than we are doing now. It is not good enough and the Government needs to reconsider its position.

The response to everything we have raised in terms of projections and targets is that we do not need these things in Ireland because we are already the subject of EU targets. Of course, that is to be completely blind to the reality that, while we may be subject to those targets, we are also on target to miss them and be well off the radar in terms of achieving them in any meaningful way by 2020. This means the Irish taxpayer will be the subject of massive fines, apart from the fact Irish and world humanity is going to be jeopardised by a failure to come to terms with these issues.

As it stands, the Bill does not require the national mitigation plan to achieve anything - that is the reality. What this amendment seeks is that it would be a requirement in the plan to include projected national emissions as a goal. I do not believe that is unreasonable; in fact, it makes perfect logical sense. For the Government to refuse to take this into account shows the same type of mentality we had on the earlier amendment, when the Minister was quite happy for the Government of the day to railroad through whatever was put forward and undermine participative democracy in this House.

Deputy Wallace is correct. We are dealing here with very serious issues and, in some ways, with the future of humanity. Even those at the higher levels or elements of the capitalist system are coming to grasp that our world is jeopardised by our inability to deal with this. The problem is that while we are talking one thing, the reality of what we are delivering is quite the opposite. We need to be much more radical in our thinking and much more definitive in the plan we put forward. There are some allusions to a way forward in the Bill before us but no meat and no substance. When we weigh up the Bill with all of the other actions the Government has stood over, the reality is that we know this country, far from reaching its targets, is moving further from achieving those targets.

That is why we say austerity is contributing to this. In fairness, the group in Canada headed up by Naomi Klein have put forward the Leap Manifesto, which is based on tackling climate change in a serious way. That manifesto, which was put to public representatives, states that austerity itself is a fossilised form of thinking that has become a threat to life on earth. What they mean is that systematically attacking low carbon sectors like education and health care, as the Government has done, starving public transport and forcing reckless energy privatisation demonstrates a fossilised form of thinking which is a threat to life on earth. We can draw parallels here in our system.

The manifesto refers to needing the money for that great transformation in how society is ordered, and we need the right policies to achieve that. Ending fossil fuel subsidies, a financial transactions tax, increased resource royalties, higher income taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals, a progressive carbon tax and cuts to military spending - all of these measures are real "producer pays" measures which could tackle the emissions we are seeking to deal with. Instead, we have a waffly, fluffy Bill that does not actually set out to achieve anything and, meanwhile, other policies are being implemented which ensure we will not reach our targets and that we are actually heading in the opposite direction.

I believe this amendment is worthy and should be included because it measures what we should be doing and, in some way, anchors this plan to some form of reality, which would then have an impact on other aspects of Government policy.

I have made the historical point once before and it is always a point that strikes me very forcefully, so I will make it again as I think it very relevant to the debate about climate change and the future capacity of our society to sustain itself. The historical point is this. The reason the great civilisations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which were the first great civilisations created by human beings, collapsed was that the people who ran those civilisations failed to invest in and sustain the infrastructure and basis on which those civilisations had arisen. Great advances in technology, in industry and in knowledge which had led to the development of those societies were completely undermined by the myopia and blindness of the people who ran them, who started to use that wealth and resources, not to sustain their civilisation, but essentially to aggrandise themselves. This is symbolised in things like pyramids, where the massive pyramids built were of no use to the society but were just monuments to the power and self-importance of the rulers and Pharaohs. Similar things were done in ancient Mesopotamia. This was instead of investing in infrastructure, both human and physical, and the means through which those societies sustained themselves.

In those days, it was the question of irrigated canal systems around the great rivers which allowed those societies to rise. That same scenario is now playing out in the world where, literally, the basis of our civilisation is being undermined by the myopia and blindness of the people at the top.

They have the technological, industrial and intellectual capacity to sustain our civilisation and help it progress and develop in the interests of the whole of humanity, but they fail to do that and instead use all the wealth and resources to aggrandise themselves, spending on wasteful, damaging and dangerous things that threaten to undermine the basis of society. That is what is going on.

We look at the terrifying displacement of millions of people in parts of the world because of what the western world has done in those places and think it is bad now, but we have yet to see the impact of runaway climate change. It is already a major contributory factor to displacement of millions of people in these areas, but displacement will get out of control if we do not take action now. The scenes we have seen in the past few weeks will be as nothing. They will pale into insignificance compared to what is coming down the line unless we deal with this matter. Countries like Ireland, with its reputation as a green country, are deeply implicated by failing to act on this matter which is having a devastating effect in the developing world. Our CO2 emissions are 80 times greater than countries like Malawi, but these countries are suffering the devastating consequences of what we have done and are doing to the environment. Despite this and the consequences being wreaked on these countries, we still think in our narrow self-serving way that we should not do anything that might impact adversely on our short-term, narrow self interest.

As Deputy Stanley pointed out, it is not in our self interest. In the whole of Europe, Ireland is one of the countries set to be worst hit by rising sea levels. This will be a mammoth cost to the State. We have already seen the impact of flooding, but the costs we have seen to date will be as nothing compared to the cost that will affect us in the coming years if we do not do something about it now. Yet, the Government sets its face against doing anything concrete. It must be seen to do something, so we get a Bill full of vague, meaningless aspirations but with nothing we can be tied to, nothing that will cost us anything. As Deputy Clare Daly rightly said, this is linked to austerity. Ultimately, our inability to invest in the sort of long-term measures necessary to deal with this is the flip side of the coin of paying out €8 billion in interest to the bankers and the bondholders - modern pharaohs in historic terms. They are the modern version of the pharaohs who dug the grave of ancient civilization. The same gang is doing it for our civilization, while we are on our bended knees obeying their every command and refusing to take any action in a range of areas.

Climate change is one of the most important issues, this global question of whether our planet can sustain food production and prevent massive flooding that will put significant parts of the globe under water, including parts of this country. Parts of our country will be devastated, as we have seen from river flooding already. Yet, the Government has set its face against change and seems uninterested. It wants to be able to say it passed the Bill, but it is not really interested.

Earlier I gave an example of this lack of interest that drives me mad. When I proposed specific amendments to the Forestry Bill when it was going through the House, proposing annual targets for greater levels of afforestation, the Government's answer was "No". It was not interested. A shocking fact that many people in this country are unaware of is that the State forestry company, Coillte, is not allowed engage in afforestation, because of EU rules. That is madness, yet nobody is raising it as an issue. We are talking about dealing with climate change, but the State forestry company which was set up to plant trees is prohibited from planting them by EU state aid rules. It is madness but the Government does not want to do anything about it. Instead, we continually submit to the people who inflict this madness on us or to those whose economic interests or personal or corporate wealth is dependent on us doing nothing. We act as their lickspittles and servants.

The culmination of this is a Bill that will do nothing and in four, five, ten or 15 years time, when the crisis has got worse, the Government of the day will blame the previous lot, who are then all retired, and say it is their fault. That Government will then say it will do something and will come up with another plan that will be long on aspiration and short on detail and the same process will continue. It is time to stop this nonsense and be specific and that is what this amendment is about. Be specific and be tied to targets. Any government can be measured against specific projections on CO2 emissions and targets to assess whether it is serious. If we did this now, we would discover very quickly that we are not serious at present.

I call Deputy Cowen as amendment No. 35 is in this group.

I will press my amendment.

By serendipity, I am in the Chamber this afternoon, due to a change of schedule. I am glad I am here because the last few contributions have been valuable. It is a pity there are so few Members in the Chamber to reflect on them but perhaps they are doing so in their offices. However, I doubt it.

What Deputy Boyd Barrett said about the collapse of civilization is correct. It is when the titans of the day build monuments to themselves in their own interest that a greater number of people, the citizens of the world suffer. The pyramids of old were made with blocks of stone, but today's pyramids are the quantitative easing in the financial markets and the credit pyramid. That credit pyramid is controlled by far too few people. These people are getting fewer and that is where the danger lies.

It is interesting to reflect for a moment on the great exodus from the Middle East through eastern European countries to western European countries. Rivers of humanity are moving west with only the clothes on their backs. The relevant committees here in the west then try to segregate and grade these people on whether they are true refugees or economic migrants. How absurd. Then, from abroad, the giants of our small country dare to comment on these matters and this grading. They themselves are economic migrants because they do not like paying tax in the country of their birth. I do not want to name these people, but everybody knows that six names pop up in this regard. Sometimes these people pay tax by self-assessment, by way of a charity cheque to their home town schools or hospitals.

The wealth and capital these people have has earned from 6% to 8% minimum over the past 25 years, as authoritative writers and researchers have explained. To make understanding this easy, I invite everybody here to see the easy 50-minute version of what people like Stiglitz, Piketty, Krugman and Carmen Reinhart have put hundreds of hours into writing. They can see it on a home-produced David McWilliams programme - 50 minutes of the truth. The establishment here thinks it can accept what its advisers, who provide little press release snatches of what might sound good for the status quo, say but it is not the truth.

It leaves maybe up to 2 million people unnecessarily hurt by the unfair divide that has taken place in the so-called recovery.

The truth is simple. It is simply explained and, as Deputy Daly said, Bills like this are fluffy palliatives, that is all. They do not specify or get concrete but on 15 October, there will be a very concrete formula of algebra to tax the middle, the lower middle and the very low. It will be so concrete that, like the 93 year-old lady yesterday, they will be suddenly snapping out of the hypnosis of fear in court or with bailiffs at the door.

It is strange, but we are here to talk about these things and to legislate, not to confuse. We can make the laws simpler, less complex. Imagine reading a book when, every now and then, a new page or half page was put in and one was taken out. It would not make sense. The simplest income tax return form is now 26 pages long. The little lady was told, "Well, if you ring up a number, you can get an explanation about the documentation" that came from the department of broadcasting or whatever it is called, but she cannot do so. The truth is that if one rings a so-called lo-call or free 1850 number, one gets a menu which even I, who am fairly okay on the uptake, have trouble understanding. Button one is this, button two is that and button three is the other. One waits and tries to hold but will it be button one or could it be button six? This is for an elderly person - ring up and get it explained. She cannot even get through and, if she does, the call might be sent to a call centre in Scotland or Mumbai. The whole thing gets madder and madder.

On the issue of climate change, please.

This is the climate that we live in.

It is the climate in which an old lady of 93 cannot get through on the telephone, a lovely Greek word from ancient civilisation; "telos" means far away and "phone" means voice - the faraway voice.

In respect of Germany, only a few weeks ago, in regard to the migration of refugees, our papers were full of, "Germany has gone in to overdrive in generosity". The figure of 1% of its population, 800,000 people, is nothing compared to what Greece has had as an actuality on its islands and shores, namely, 310,000 people, first arrivals. The country is on its knees with 24% ordinary unemployment and 50% youth unemployment, and the titans of finance are wondering if it is good for another bailout. It gets madder and madder. The lads will all meet - the powerful, the fewer with the more - in Davos in Switzerland in January for another mutual congratulations bash about how rich and powerful they are.

The Government has an opportunity. It has big numbers in whatever months there are left to do a few things rather than to talk about them. It should bring in a gambling control Bill. We now host and accommodate one of the world's biggest gambling organisations, after a so-called merger, or takeover, during the summer. The Government sleeps and sits on its hands and collects only 1% turnover tax. It is absurd. For every 500 jobs in that organisation there are 5,000 families going down the tubes.

This is the climate we live in, the one we feel and the one the 130,000 families on housing waiting lists know. It is the climate the 1,500 children who do not have a home feel. What about the so-called restructured loans? The banks are telling us they have everything under control. That is so Mad Hatter, so Alice in Wonderland, it is unbelievable. They fiddle with accounting, dividing a thing up into a split mortgage, one would think it was an ice cream. It is rubbish. A loan to a person or people to buy a home to raise a family is a loan. It is secured by the lender by a mortgage on the property. The sooner we start talking the truthful language, the better we will understand what is happening. Banks enter into loans with people to house and raise a family for up to 30 years, and only a sixth of the way through the original loan term, they say, "We are changing it and splitting it." They say to people they think they can handle part A for the rest of their working lives and that they will freeze part B until 25 years later. By the way, they win all the time, because when people retire on a State pension, if they are lucky, they will activate the other loan with the cumulative hidden interest. That is the climate those families live in. If they cannot honour - listen to the word "honour" - the restructured nonsense, the bank has gone on with-----

Deputy Stanley's amendment mentions emissions. Deputy Mathews might talk about that in his contribution. He might just mention it.

This is the "concrete" weather that Irish people live in; two million people unfairly treated in the so-called outcome of the collapse. Do not talk about recovery; it is an outcome at the moment. It is recovery for those few who own the capital and the wealth - the 6% to 8% growth, steady for the last 25 years. Those guys over there in numbers are afraid to write an assessment invoice to the multinational corporations to cough up. Forget 12.5% - say even an 8% effective rate of tax. The Government has not got the guts to send out the invoice. They would pay it. I have done the research. They would not even blink. That is the truth of it.

Like the weather and climate change, which the Bill is all about, they are even getting to that point now. When they had their last conversations, these people, the OECD and so on, said, "We have got to recognise realities and it will be happening anyway." In the meantime the open goal was missed. There was a national recovery opportunity to say to the multinational corporations, "Our people are hurting".

It is all because boards of banks created a credit pyramid, bringing us back to where we started in this conversation. Nobody else did. It was not the developers, by the way. The papers have got all that wrong. The balance sheets prove where the problem was - it was credit. The proof is that the banks are, by their own admission, correcting their balance sheets to the proper loan to deposit ratios. That means they must have made a mistake, and as they say, they are correcting it. If they made the mistake, why are the people paying for it with the second split mortgages?

I have taken a little liberty, but these things are all connected. If the Minister of State does not see that they are connected, then we are missing it. We are being juvenile about things. We have got to get honest. These are the things that should be discussed in Cabinet. These are the big picture responsibilities, not the little selfish things about how to get in and whether we have a good representation and saying, "A few more roads down in Cork to Limerick - that should do it" for this constituency and that. That is not the way to think.

Anyway, I am glad I came in. I heard very relevant and valuable contributions. If the Government is going to go with this Bill, it should at least make it specific and concrete. It should accept the amendments. To leave it woolly and fluffy is pathetic.

I thank Deputy Boyd Barrett for the history lesson.

I certainly admire the Deputy's powers to foretell the future.

I am listening to the scientists.

While the Deputy says the pyramids are no longer of use, I recall that they were once one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. They were driving a very large tourism industry on which the Egyptian economy greatly depended.

Tell that to the slaves who died making them.

To say they are of absolutely no use is perhaps a little redundant.

Regarding the movement of people around the world, I remember raising in the Dáil in 2012 the issue of migrants, refugees and the Syrian crisis on a number of occasions. The Dáil record will testify to that. I do not remember anybody in this Chamber raising the issue of Syria. That can be checked in the Dáil record.

Is the Minister of State kidding?

No, I am not. I do not remember Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett raising it.

The Minister of State should be allowed to continue without interruption.

The purpose of the national mitigation plan relates to how to achieve emission reductions, not to how much of a reduction should be achieved. It would be out of place, therefore, to include quantified emission reduction figures in the national mitigation plan. Each successive national mitigation plan must abide by our legally binding mitigation obligations. In any event, specifying projected total national emissions after each succession plan is implemented would be redundant. For that reason, I cannot support these amendments.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 34:

In page 6, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:

“(e) specify the projected total national emissions for the period of the plan on the basis of all the policy measures specified in the plan.”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 37; Níl, 65.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Joe Carey.
Amendment declared lost.

Ciúnas please while we resume deliberations on the Bill. Those of you who are holding conversations should carry them on outside.

Amendment No. 35 arises out of committee proceedings and has already been discussed with amendment No. 33.

I move amendment No. 35:

In page 6, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:

“(e) specify the projected total national emissions for the period of the plan after all the policy measures specified in the plan.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 36 arises out of committee proceedings.

I move amendment No. 36:

In page 6, lines 30 and 31, after “subsection (2)(d)” to insert “, however they may not vary or revise downwards any targets contained in the mitigation plan”.

This amendment provides that when submitting their departmental submissions to the mitigation plan, individual Ministers may not vary or revise downwards the emission targets. The obvious problem with this Bill is that there are no targets. The Government is continuing on the tradition of passing a so-called climate action Bill which contains no binding targets. All 24 amendments that sought to insert targets in the Bill were ruled out of order.

The suggested targets in those amendments all came from the advice of environmental organisations. These were based on targets that are most commonly legislated for internationally and which are based on emission targets some 80% less than the total emission targets in 1990. In the meantime other countries have gone even further than that. In Ireland, however, we are presented with legislation without targets. The plan for tackling greenhouse gases will be presented in two years' time despite examples of what needs to be done being evident across the world.

The UNIPCC report indicates there is a 95% certainty that climate change is occurring mainly because of greenhouse gases released by human activity, above the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. If the Minister of State is serious about tackling climate change and averting environmental disaster, we need to take rapid action. We know what needs to be done. Greenhouse gas emissions need to be massively cut. The European Commission suggested a cut of 40% by 2030, while environmental organisations and NGOs have said we need a 55% cut by 2030.

We cannot continue to put the economy, the interests of big business and the profit system above the environment and the planet itself.

The proposed amendment seeks to ensure that Ministers responsible for sectoral mitigation measures cannot revise downward any mitigation targets contained in a national mitigation plan. This, unfortunately, is to misunderstand the nature of the national mitigation plan, which is designed to specify how greenhouse gas emission reductions are to be achieved and not the quantum of reductions to be achieved. The latter is set as a result of negotiations at an EU level. Accordingly, this amendment is considered redundant and I cannot support it.

One would expect nothing less. This has been raised umpteen times before.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 37:

In page 7, line 18, to delete "Expert Advisory Council" and substitute "Advisory Council".

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 38:

In page 7, line 22, to delete "Government" and substitute "the Oireachtas".

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 36; Níl, 61.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brian Stanley and Sandra McLellan; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and Emmet Stagg.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 39:

In page 7, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following:

“(a) the principle of climate justice,”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 39; Níl, 65.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • White, Alex.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Barry Cowen and Bobby Aylward; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Joe Carey.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 40:

In page 7, line 34, to delete "have regard to" and substitute "comply with and take account of".

This amendment requires that the Minister and the Government take account of certain matters when performing functions under this section. The need to have regard to those matters is in page 7 of the Bill but I want to substitute "have regard to" with the words "comply with and take account of". Those of us who have come through county councils will be very familiar with the term "the need to have regard to" in respect of this, that or the other but in actual fact it means very little and we have seen it set aside many times. The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 is very important legislation and we have tried to firm it up in this way as it has been described by a number of speakers as being "very fluffy" and not very solid in terms of setting targets in a whole range of areas. It is important we stitch this into the Bill and that it is writ large in this section that the Government must comply with and take account of the matters in question when performing its functions.

This amendment calls for the phrase "have regard to" to be replaced with, inter alia, "comply" in section 4(7) of the Bill. With due respect, I do not believe this amendment makes sense as there are competing considerations when developing a national mitigation plan, all of which cannot be complied with fully at the same time. Accordingly, I believe the phrase "have regard to" is the appropriate one in this instance as it requires a balancing of considerations. I therefore cannot support this amendment.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 41; Níl, 63.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • White, Alex.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brian Stanley and Mary Lou McDonald; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and Emmet Stagg.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment No. 41 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 42 and 43 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 42:

In page 8, to delete lines 10 and 11 and substitute the following:

"(f) the findings of any relevant research on the effectiveness of mitigation measures and adaptation measures, including the management of soil carbon and the protection and rewetting of wetlands,".

The amendment refers to another issue to which the Government must have regard in producing the national mitigation plan and, in particular, suggests that we need to take account of "the management of soil carbon and the protection and rewetting of wetlands", because this is a huge area of potential carbon sequestration, in addition to research on the effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation measures. As we develop our understanding of this and its effectiveness in acting as a carbon sink and reducing CO2 emissions, it must be an important element to which to have regard in developing an effective mitigation plan. This is a reasonable and practical amendment and I hope the Government will accept it.

I would like the Minister of State to respond before I elaborate on my amendment.

Amendments Nos. 42 and 43 are grouped. These proposed amendments call for the inclusion of a reference to the management of soil carbon and the protection and rewetting of wetlands when the Minister, Deputy Kelly and the Government perform their functions under section 4. In the first instance, I fully accept that both the management of soil carbon and the protection and rewetting of wetlands are proven means of maintaining and developing carbon sinks, which are an important option in reducing our overall carbon footprint as a State. As such, these activities fall under the heading "mitigation policy measures".

The Bill, as initiated, does not make reference to any particular mitigation policy measures for good reason in that the nature and extent of such measures will change over time up to the year 2050, as successive mitigation measures take effect. For that reason, I do not consider it appropriate to single out these particular mitigation policy measures for inclusion in the Bill, rather they more properly belong to the context of the iterative national mitigation plans where specific soil carbon and wetland management measures can be specified. For this reason, I cannot support these amendments.

I will be pressing my amendment.

Does Deputy Boyd Barrett wish to respond?

I think the point has been made.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 43:

In page 8, line 11, after "measures" to insert “including the management of soil carbon and the protection and rewetting of wetlands".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 44:

In page 8, line 17, to delete "and".

This is purely a technical amendment to facilitate the inclusion of amendment No. 46 and should be read in consultation with that amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 45:

In page 8, line 18, to delete "Expert Advisory Council." and substitute "Advisory Council,".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 46:

In page 8, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:

"(j) mitigation measures, specified in a notification to the Minister or the Government under subsection (13), and

(k) the protection of public health.".

This amendment seeks to incorporate the initiatives and experiences of local authorities in implementing greenhouse gas emission reduction measures when developing and approving national mitigation plans. Very often local authorities have proven themselves to be adept at proactively innovating in areas of environmental concern. Therefore, I hope and trust that mitigation will be no exception. Accordingly, my amendment seeks to complement the top-down nature of the national mitigation plans with a bottom-up approach from local authorities, which I believe will be to the benefit of both.

In addition, as an added consideration in developing national mitigation plans, the amendment also seeks to include a reference to "the protection of public health" to explain that the core benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will often include a reduction in the emission of fossil fuel-burning pollutants into the atmosphere. This consideration may determine the mix of mitigation policy measures to be implemented at any point in time.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 47:

In page 8, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:

"(j) the principle of climate justice.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 48:

In page 8, line 29, to delete "Expert Advisory Council" and substitute "Advisory Council".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 49:

In page 8, line 31, to delete "Expert Advisory Council" and substitute "Advisory Council".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 50:

In page 8, to delete lines 33 and 34 and substitute the following:

"(10) A national mitigation plan shall be approved by a resolution in both Houses of the Oireachtas as soon may be after it is approved by the Government.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 51 is in the names of Deputies Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins.

None of them is present.

Amendment No. 51 not moved.

I move amendment No. 52:

In page 8, line 34, after "Government" to insert "and both houses of the Oireachtas".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 53:

In page 8, after line 38, to insert the following:

"(13) A local authority may notify the Minister or the Government in writing of-----

(a) its intention to adopt, or

(b) its having adopted,

such mitigation measures as are specified in the notification concerned in relation to that local authority’s administrative area.".

This amendment complements amendment No. 46 in that it provides for a voluntary obligation on local authorities to notify the Minister or the Government of locally implemented greenhouse gas emission measures. Such a notification will ensure that best practice at a local level will inform the development of national mitigation plans to the clear benefit of the latter.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 54 has been ruled out of order.

Amendment No. 54 not moved.

Amendment No. 55 is in the names of Deputy Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins but none of them is present.

They are not here.

Amendment No. 55 not moved.

I move amendment No. 56:

In page 9, line 38, to delete "Dáil Éireann" and substitute "and approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 57:

In page 10, line 31, to delete "Expert Advisory Council" and substitute "Advisory Council".

Amendment put and declared carried.

Amendment No. 58 has been ruled out of order.

Amendment No. 58 not moved.

I move amendment No. 59:

In page 11, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:

"(c) the need to further develop the tillage sector and mixed farming, in particular crops that have the potential to act as significant carbon sinks;".

It is important that we consider the agriculture sector. There are ambitious targets to be met in Harvest 2020, which the agriculture sector has gone a long way towards meeting. The issue that will arise will be that of trying to meet the capacity and keeping within our greenhouse gas emission limits in terms of our international obligations and whatever national obligations we set out.

There is great pressure to increase output. We must be careful how we manage this because if we do not do it the right way, the Government of the day, whatever its composition will be, will have to buy carbon credits to offset any overrun of greenhouse gas emissions if we do not take remedial measures and if we do not diversify. We have very strong beef and dairy sectors and they must be protected and improved. The jobs being created in those sectors are very welcome, particularly the new jobs in the food industry. That is all positive, as is the increase in our exports in that sector. However, there are limits in terms of market demands. Without going into this in great depth, we know from what has happened in America that beef exports have not been the silver bullet that people thought they would be. The beef and dairy sectors have their limits.

Twelve months ago the European Commissioner, Phil Hogan, called for a significant increase in dairy output, that there would be no fear of it distorting the market for dairy produce. Many farmers might disagree with that now, with those markets which they are serving showing a downward pull on prices.

We need to look at other areas in farming where we can produce. We also need to look at those sectors in which we are importing a substantial amount of food produce which could be produced here. The beet sector is one. The indigenous sugar beet industry was closed in 2006. The plan then was to build apartments on the sugar factory site in Carlow on the banks of the River Barrow. The only building on it now is the tower from the old beet plant with the thistles and buachalán buí growing around it.

This amendment addresses the need to diversify into more mixed farming. In some ways, it is going back to the future. We used to be a significant sugar beet growing country, a position to which we need to go back. In the context of this Bill, sugar beet is important because it can act as a break crop, as well as a good cover crop in acting as a carbon sink. Those of us who have ever worked in a beet field will know it is a broad-leafed plant for several months, meaning it is a good covering crop and excellent as a carbon sink. It does not emit greenhouse gas whereas cattle do.

We need to be looking more at developing the tillage sector and root crops, such as sugar beet. Research and practice on the Continent shows sugar beet can be used not just in sugar but also in bioethanol production, proving it is a viable industry. This State imports about €400 million worth of sugar products every year, a substantial amount of money going out of the State, affecting the balance of payments.

This is an opportunity to look more seriously at this area. The Minister will be aware of attempts to restart the indigenous sugar industry. We must try to have a plant operating the whole year around. This is a win-win. It does not generate greenhouse gas emissions. Sugar beet is a good cash crop and, for several months of the year, it is a valuable carbon sink crop as it is a broad-leafed covering crop. From June, a good beet field would be completely covered in green right up to when the beet is pulled in October. I have often seen it left in the ground as late as December. It is important we look at that and diversify. I tabled this amendment to further develop the tillage sector, mixed farming and particularly crops that can act as carbon sinks. It makes sense from an environmental, a financial and a social point of view.

Week in, week out, we talk about rural development and developing local economies. The loss of the sugar beet industry had a significant impact on the midlands and the south east. One can blame the previous Government for that and get into the blame game but tomorrow is the first day of the future. Greencore wound up with the bulk of the compensation package for the closure of the sugar factories while farmers got some of it. The former workers and contractors did not get a whole lot, however. I remember being at meetings when the sugar factory was closed and it was like being at a funeral. Farmers were annoyed. Beet is a good sustainable cash crop and very good for crop rotation. Now, farmers are growing other break crops for grain and barley but these are not good cash crops. Farmers and experts will maintain beet is good for the ground in giving back nutrients to the soil. This makes sense from an environmental, economic and social point of view, as well as importantly getting money into our local economies and keeping people working locally. I implore the Minister of State to accept this amendment in the spirit it has been put forward.

I strongly endorse Deputy Stanley's amendment. Monoculture or overdependence on one or two agricultural sectors is a very dangerous game. We need to diversify enterprise and industry generally, as well as agriculture. The idea we would have an ever onwards and upwards beef export industry or we can solely rely on the beef and dairy sector is a mistake. It makes us vulnerable to any sort of serious fluctuations, increased competition, diseases and other factors which could potentially hit a single sector and, therefore, make the entire economy vulnerable. We learned about the folly of overconcentration on a particular sector with the property crash. It would be devastating if we did not learn the same in the areas of agriculture which we have prioritised. One has to have diversity in this sector basically for safety, sustainability and protection of the economy.

I do not know as much as Deputy Stanley does about the sugar beet sector and the sugar industry. However, it is an amazing fact that even in Dún Laoghaire, people regularly approach me to decry the collapse of the indigenous sugar industry and that it was a national tragedy to allow it to happen. The passion and conviction with which this point is put, a point echoed by Deputy Stanley, coming from an area very much affected, indicates the need to take the resurrection of that industry seriously.

Another important sector in which we have desperately underperformed and which we have allowed to decline is forestry. Of course, there were historical reasons it was devastated under British rule. It is an absolute tragedy and shame that in the country in Europe which has the best conditions for growing trees, we have the lowest level of forest cover. This is a perfect crop for addressing climate change, CO2 emissions, as well as dealing with the consequences of climate change and environmental damage and yet we have failed spectacularly to develop the sector. In so far as we have developed it, again it has been on a monocultural basis with one crop being prioritised, which has questionable effects on soil and water quality, as well as making it vulnerable to disease. This is an area in which we should be diversifying and expanding to a significant extent.

There are many other such areas but a focus on the diversification of crops to develop industry, enterprise and agriculture could be beneficial in terms of meeting our targets. It would be environmentally sustainable and good economically, socially and in every other way. This must be a key part of our moving towards a sustainable future and dealing with climate change.

It is a reasonable and sensible amendment and I see no reason the Minister of State would not accept it. It is very much the direction in which we need to go if we are to think outside the box and widen our horizons. In some cases, we need just go back to things we used to do. This was a forest-covered country. We also had a sugar industry. Both of those have been devastated but there are things in these areas we could do terribly well, realising multiple benefits at every level. The Minister of State should accept the amendment. More important, however, this Government and future Governments need to take the spirit of the amendment seriously in addressing not just climate change but also a sustainable economic and environmental future.

I have listened with interest for the past few minutes to my learned colleagues from Dún Laoghaire and Portlaoise speaking about the sugar industry and its benefit to the country over many years, which is true. There is one particular and important point my colleague from Portlaoise omitted, however, which is that his colleagues in the European Parliament recently voted to restrict the production of sugar within Europe. At the same time, we are trying to ensure there is a viable industry here. It is important to make the point that we cannot have it both ways. Either we want it or we do not. In the past it was very important to us to have an industry such as this one but it was taken from us by the people to my left, who seem to forget that fact whenever it suits them. It is important that my colleagues in Sinn Féin are not hypocritical about the situation. They are looking for an industry to return, something we all want, but have a different view on it in the European Parliament. That should not be forgotten.

It is important that we have diversity. We have diversity at present in agriculture, which has changed considerably over the past 20 or 30 years. That point must also not be forgotten. Beef and dairy farmers are constantly monitoring what their cattle are producing to ensure it can be minimised to best effect. They also have an important role to play in terms of the future. We cannot keep blaming agriculture and farming in general for the current situation. It is important that we move on from that. It would be great to have sugar produced in Ireland again. We all want it back but we must come clean about who wants it back more than others.

I agree with Deputies that the loss of the sugar industry was massive for this country, particularly for counties in the south and east, one of which is my county. I recognise the efforts of many Deputies and others, including Deputies Deering and Phelan who are in the Chamber. Another colleague, Deputy Tom Barry, is very active in trying to revitalise the sugar industry, which goes without saying but we should recognise that fact.

The proposed amendment calls for the inclusion of material relating to carbon sinks in section 7, which deals with considerations relating to the national adaptation framework and the sectoral adaptation plans. I reiterate that we are not specifying mitigation measures in the Bill. I recognise what the Deputy proposing the amendment wishes to achieve but it is a matter for the national mitigation plan which will specify actual mitigation measures. There will be, and already is, a full engagement with all sectors, including the agricultural sector, to identify appropriate and sustainable carbon sinks. That will be the opportunity to include these mitigation measures. Accordingly, I believe this amendment to be out of place in its current context and I cannot support it.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 60:

In page 12, line 3, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 61:

In page 12, line 5, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 62:

In page 12, line 7, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 63:

In page 12, to delete lines 11 to 15 and substitute the following:

“(2) There shall stand established, on the establishment day, a body which shall be known, in the Irish language, as An Chomhairle Chomhairleach um Athrú Aeráide or, in the English language, as the Climate Change Advisory Council (in this Act referred to as the “Advisory Council”) to perform the functions assigned to it under this Act.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 64:

In page 12, line 12, to delete “Shaineolach Náisiúnta”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 65:

In page 12, lines 13 and 14, to delete “National Expert Advisory Council on Climate Change (in this Act referred to as the “Expert Advisory Council”)” and substitute “Climate Change Advisory Council (in this Act referred to as “Advisory Council”)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 66 is in the name of Deputies Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Richard Boyd Barrett. Amendments Nos. 66 to 68, inclusive, and amendment No. 124 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 66:

In page 12, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

“(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or of any other enactment, the members of the Advisory Council shall be independent in the performance of their functions under this Act.”.

Whose telephone is that?

It has stopped now. Deputy Boyd Barrett was asking whose phone was ringing but it has magically stopped. I assure the House it was not mine.

It is not mine either.

I will be brief. The purpose of these amendments is to enshrine the independence of the advisory council into law. It is very much based on the statutory framework for the Fiscal Advisory Council. The amendment is modelled on a provision in the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 and section 8(1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2012. If it is sufficiently important to enshrine the independence of the Fiscal Advisory Council in law, I do not see why there would not be a similar logic to doing so for the climate advisory council. We are talking about the future of humanity and I, therefore, think it is sufficiently important. To quote Friends of the Earth on the subject:

The independence of the Fiscal Advisory Council is underpinned by law. The same protection is essential for the Climate Advisory Council, especially with ex-officio members who might otherwise be looking over their shoulders to their Boards and stakeholders.

That is essentially it. I am not sure if it was the Minister of State, Deputy Coffey, or the Minister who signalled on Committee Stage a preparedness to incorporate this provision into the legislation. I hope the Minister of State will not oppose the amendment and that I will not need to say anything further on it because the talk on Committee Stage was that it was going to be accepted.

The point has already been made - but it took an economic crisis for this Government and governments across Europe to recognise it - that we need independent economists to assess budgets, spending decisions and macroeconomic priorities so that there is an early warning signal, so to speak, with regard to mistaken behaviours that could wreak havoc on the economy and our society. Despite the fact that I may have issues with some of the recommendations of the Fiscal Advisory Council, I see the benefit of having an independent group of economists assessing the wider economy, what the Government is doing, its budgets and setting out whether it thinks there are dangers. The reports and figures it produces are very useful. In that sense, it is quite a good model and one which should be followed in this area of equal if not, arguably, much greater importance, which is an area that concerns the management of our environment so that it remains sustainable for human existence and society.

It does not get much more important than that. To have that group independent in assessing our mitigation plans and Government policies and priorities in this area appears to be a no-brainer. As Deputy Daly said, there were positive sounds from the Government on Committee Stage on this front, so let us hope they will be followed through with an agreement on the Government's part to accept this series of amendments.

The proposed amendments call from an explicit statement that the national expert advisory council on climate change shall be independent in the performance of its functions. I appreciate that there has been some concern that the presence of the ex officio members on the expert advisory council will, in some manner, render the council less than independent in its advice-giving functions. However, I do not agree with this assessment. The presence of the ex officio members should not be seen as an impediment to independence; rather, they provide the council with much needed practical experience of policy implementation by organisations which already have a well established low carbon agenda. In short, I believe that they add to, rather than diminish, the standing of the council.

Nevertheless, to address Deputies' concerns and in deference to the wishes of others, I have introduced my own amendment, No. 124, which provides for a statement of explicit independence in section 11. Therefore, I will not accept this amendment.

I am not sure why it is not grouped with these amendments if it is essentially the same issue.

Okay. Did the Minister of State move it now?

The Minister of State could elaborate on it a little.

The amendment states what it is.

I cannot see it.

The Minister of State should introduce the amendment properly.

The Minister of State did not move an amendment.

We have not reached it yet.

If they are grouped, the Minister of State would be dealing with it.

To be helpful, amendments Nos. 66 to 68, inclusive, and 124 are related and they will be discussed together.

What number is the amendment?

The Minister of State will have to move it now. Can he not move it now while we are discussing them together?

If they are grouped together, should the Minister of State not move it now to explain it to us?

I have already explained what I am doing.

Does the Minister of State intend to move it?

Yes, I will move it.

We grouped amendments Nos. 66 to 68, inclusive, and 124 as the amendments are related.

I will waive mine on the advice of the Minister of State.

Deputies Cowen, Stanley, Paul Murphy, Coppinger and Higgins are also proposers of these amendments. Are there any other speakers?

I have a question about amendment No. 67.

Before I call you, Deputy, we take the amendments in sequence as regards voting.

It is not about voting. It is about explanation. The Minister of State's silence is stunning. We are dealing with a group of amendments and in the case of every other group of amendments we have dealt with, the Members who tabled them have all spoken, after which we received the Minister of State's response. It is astonishing that the Minister of State-----

The Minister of State responded to the points we made and then mentioned, at the end, that he has tabled amendment No. 124 to deal with this area.

To address the Deputies' concerns.

Yes. It would be very helpful if the Minister of State would elaborate a little more about what he means regarding the independence of this body, who else will be on it and how it will be selected, so we can be satisfied that it fully addresses the concerns we have raised in our amendments. We do not wish to call votes for the sake of it. We would like to say that the Minister of State's amendment covers the matter and, therefore, our amendments are not required as the Government has listened. We would like to be able to say that, but it would be helpful if the Minister of State could elaborate a little more.

I will call Deputy Stanley first.

I will speak on amendment No. 67. The membership of the advisory council is set out in the Bill. The ex officio members include the director general of the agency, the chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the director of Teagasc and the director of the ESRI. The key point, however, is what is stated in the report from the all-party environment committee. It states:

To carry out these functions, [that is, to be independent and to submit annual reports and so forth to the Minister] the Expert Advisory Body requires a high degree of independence and to be able to draw on appropriate technical support from the relevant public service departments. The model of the Fiscal Advisory Council is seen as appropriate to achieve this. As with the Fiscal Advisory Council, the Expert Advisory Body requires to be able to publish its own reports independent of government. Its independence [and this is key] also requires that it have no ex-officio members, but be supported by a small technical secretariat as proposed by National Economic and Social Council. This 'Office of Climate Change' would include the officials currently proposed in Head 6 of the Bill and be chaired by the Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The difference is that the former Minister, Mr. Hogan, the current Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly, and the Minister of State, Deputy Coffey, have included those people as ex officio members of the council, instead of having the people on an independent panel to advise. The environment committee, which was representative of all parties including Fine Gael and the Labour Party, examined this carefully and there was a long discussion about it in the summer of 2013 down in the bunker, or the committee rooms. That level of independence, modelled on the Fiscal Advisory Council, is required but the Minister has made what should be the expert advisory panel and these people who should be ex officio members all one and the same. That is the issue, and it is the reason I tabled amendment No. 67 - other Deputies have tabled similar amendments - and amendment No. 70, which we will discuss later.

Regarding the amendment tabled by me and Deputy Stanley, I acknowledge what the Minister of State said. I had asked that the national expert advisory council should be independent in the performance of its functions, and I note the Minister of State's amendment No. 124 provides that the expert advisory council shall be independent. I accept the Minister's good faith and good intentions in this regard and acknowledge the fact that, in essence, he is accepting the proposal. I will withdraw my amendment.

The difference between what the Minister of State is proposing and what we are proposing, and I hope the Minister of State will speak to it and explain as he still has not done that, is that while he is making a statement that it will be independent in its functions, it still will have the ex officio members rather than what was proposed to him by us and the environmental lobby. We proposed that the agencies he wishes to designate as ex officio members would be essentially a secretariat technical support for an independent body of people, similar to the Fiscal Advisory Council. It is not that these people and agencies would not have an input, but that they would not be ex officio members of the advisory committee. They would be technical support to the advisory committee. That is an important distinction. While making some concession to our concerns, the Minister has not gone the full way towards the Fiscal Advisory Council model but has retained some element of the insiders, as it were, being a permanent part of this advisory body.

The real point is that this is not full independence when that was what was being sought, although with technical support from bodies such as the agencies referred to in the Bill. Perhaps the Minister of State can persuade us otherwise, but what we are proposing is still superior to what he is proposing.

To clarify, the council was announced by the Minister in June. It includes four ex officio members of 11 members in total. We can supply the list to Deputies, if they want it made available. The chairperson of the council is John FitzGerald, who I believe we would all agree is a very experienced and qualified chair, which needs to be recognised. I am not sure where Deputy Boyd Barrett is coming from. He is adopting a cynical approach. The Government seems to have satisfied Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, given the thrust of our amendment is the same as theirs. The Government amendment states, "The Advisory Council shall be independent in the performance of its functions.” I cannot see how I can be any more explicit or clear. The Government has put into the legislation that this council is required to be independent in the performance of its functions.

I cannot elaborate any further. We listened to the concerns of Deputies on Committee Stage and put forward amendment No. 124. I will move that amendment when we get to it.

It would have helped matters if the Minister of State had moved the amendment. It is down for moving now.

It is. The Minister of State is supposed to move it in this batch of amendments. I accept what the Minister of State is saying, namely, it does have the same framework of wording as our amendment. If we had known that, it would have made a difference. I am glad the Minister of State seems to have taken the points on board. The appointment of some of the people to the council has also perhaps reassured people a little in terms of some of the concerns in regard to independence. It is explicitly being put in the Bill, although I am not sure why it is not dealt with in the same group.

I can assure the Deputy I will be moving the amendment but the protocol of the Dáil does not allow me to move it until we get to it in the list of amendments. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle can clarify that.

That is correct. How stands the amendment?

May I speak again?

We have dealt with the amendments.

The Minister made an announcement since I spoke and I did not get a chance to come back in.

Amendment No. 124 from the Minister states: "The Advisory Council shall be independent in the performance of its functions.” I accept this goes some of the way in that this is being hard-wired into the legislation and it seems a genuine effort to deal with the issue. I believe it will ensure the level of independence that is required.

I thank the Deputy.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 67 and 68 not moved.

I move amendment No. 69:

In page 12, line 17, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 70:

In page 12, to delete lines 19 and 20 and substitute the following:

“(b) not more than 5 ordinary members who shall be independent of the State or stakeholder interests.”.

The make-up of the advisory council is important and I put forward the amendment in that spirit.

The amendment calls for the complete removal of the ex officio members from the expert advisory council. I believe that such a course of action would be wholly misguided in that it would rob the council of valuable insights into the realities and practicalities of policy implementation in Ireland.

We are all in favour of robust mitigation policy measures being developed and implemented in a timely fashion. The expert advisory council is there to provide advice in this regard. It would be strange, therefore, if the council itself did not have at its disposal, as full members, experts in policy implementation. In addition, the four relevant organisations – the EPA, the SEAI, Teagasc and the ESRI – have a wealth of talent and infrastructure behind them to lend assistance to the council, as and when required, particularly where relevant research is concerned. Foregoing this support around the main table would do a disservice to the requirements and demands of the low carbon transition agenda challenge that we all face. For those reasons, I cannot support this amendment.

I refer to my earlier statement in this regard. The section of the environment committee report from the summer of 2013 outlines the reasons for this. I agree with the Minister of State that the council should have that level of expertise available to it. However, where we are divided is that we would see them as advisory to the panel, not included as ex officio members, similar to the position with the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 71 to 74, inclusive, are out of order.

Amendments Nos. 71 to 74, inclusive, not moved.

I move amendment No. 75:

In page 12, lines 21 and 22, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 76:

In page 12, line 29, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 77:

In page 12, line 32, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 78:

In page 12, lines 34 and 35, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 79:

In page 12, line 37, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 80:

In page 13, line 2, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 81:

In page 13, line 3, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 82:

In page 13, line 6, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 83:

In page 13, line 9, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 84:

In page 13, line 11, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 85:

In page 13, line 13, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 86:

In page 13, line 15, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 87:

In page 13, line 17, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 88:

In page 13, line 18, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 89:

In page 13, line 22, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 90:

In page 13, line 29, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 91:

In page 13, line 33, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 92:

In page 13, line 34, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 93:

In page 14, line 1, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 94:

In page 14, line 8, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 95:

In page 14, line 9, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 96:

In page 14, to delete line 17 and substitute the following:

“(f) is, or is deemed to be, the subject of an order under section 160 of the Companies Act 1990 or a disqualification order within the meaning of Chapter 4 of Part 14 of the Companies Act 2014.”.

Amendment No. 96 to section 9 (13)(f) is a technical amendment relating to disqualification provisions for serving on the expert advisory council, to reflect the fact that the Companies Act 2014 has come into force since the publication of the Bill. To explain, the Companies Act 2014 by and large supersedes the Companies Act 1990, save for some savers in that latter Act. Accordingly, an amendment is required to reflect the fact that the Companies Act 2014 is now in effect. This technical amendment in no way alters the intent of this provision.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 97:

In page 14, line 18, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 98:

In page 14, line 20, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 99:

In page 14, lines 21 and 22, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 100:

In page 14, line 23, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 101:

In page 14, line 27, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 102:

In page 14, line 29, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 103:

In page 14, line 31, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 104:

In page 14, line 32, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 105:

In page 14, line 35, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 106:

In page 14, lines 38 and 39, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 107:

In page 15, line 2, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 108:

In page 15, lines 3 and 4, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 109:

In page 15, line 5, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 110:

In page 15, lines 6 and 7, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 111:

In page 15, line 8, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 112:

In page 15, line 10, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 113:

In page 15, line 11, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 114:

In page 15, line 14, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 115:

In page 15, line 20, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 116:

In page 15, line 25, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 117:

In page 15, line 26, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 118:

In page 15, line 32, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 119:

In page 15, line 34, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 120:

In page 15, line 37, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 121:

In page 15, lines 40 and 41, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 122:

In page 16, line 6, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 123:

In page 16, line 27, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 124:

In page 16, between lines 31 and 32, to insert the following:

“(3) The Advisory Council shall be independent in the performance of its functions.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 125:

In page 16, line 33, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 126:

In page 17, line 11, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 127:

In page 17, line 15, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 128:

In page 17, line 19, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 129:

In page 17, line 23, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 130 and 131 are related and will be discussed together.

Amendment No. 130 not moved.

I move amendment No. 131:

In page 17, line 25, to delete “30 days” and substitute “10 days”.

Briefly, this is about shortening the timeframe for the publication of the advisory council's annual reports. We propose the amendment in the view that this is necessary in order to facilitate public debate and ensure transparency in the process. There should not be any lengthy delays in the publication of the reports. The 30 days provided for, one month, is too long. There is no need for a delay beyond ten days. If the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, under the Fiscal Responsibility Act, is expected to produce its report within ten days, this is at least as important and should be on a par with it. This is serious business and ten days is more than adequate. I hope the Minister of State will accept this amendment.

I support this amendment. If the Minister has the report, it should be made available. There is no reason not to make it available. It is important it is made available to Members quickly also. The Government, in its last weeks or months in office, must try to move away from the current delaying system. I am surprised by the practice because when information is available in county councils, it is provided to councillors almost straight away. Over the past four and a half years, I have been surprised by the Government's system of making announcements and having launches, but Members have to wait until they get the newspapers the next day to find out what was said. I know this situation is slightly different, but where an annual report is available to the Minister, it should be available to Members and the public within ten days. There is no reason for it not to be.

If the Minister wants the public to buy into this, we cannot do it in a semi-secret way or by way of delay or procrastination. The more open we are the better. We have nothing to fear and we want the public to be involved. Perception is sometimes everything. The more open we are, the more we get people to buy into our plans because they have a clearer understanding of what needs to be done. The public appreciates that. In that spirit, I ask the Minister of State to accept amendment No. 131.

I am disappointed with Deputy Stanley's cynical attitude towards this. There is nothing semi-secret in this process. It is a transparent process and will stand on its merit.

The proposed amendments call for the shortening of the timeframe for publication by the expert advisory council of its annual report, following its submission to the Minister, from 30 days to ten days. By way of explanation for what is already in the Bill, the 30-day timeframe is to provide an opportunity for the annual report to be seen by the Government before it is published. I hasten to add that there is no intention or, indeed, provision for the Government to seek to alter or amend the annual report in any way. The 30-day timeframe is merely to afford this opportunity and courtesy to the Government.

I do not believe that a maximum 30-day wait for publication could be said to constitute any undue or untoward delay. The annual report will be published in full by the expert advisory council and without any interference whatsoever. Accordingly, I cannot support these amendments.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 132:

In page 17, line 26, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 133:

In page 17, line 29, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 134:

In page 17, line 29, to delete “18 months” and substitute “6 months”.

This amendment is to section 13(1), which states:

The Expert Advisory Council shall, not later than 18 months after the establishment day, conduct a review (in this Act referred to as a “periodic review”) of—

(a) progress made in meeting the obligations of the State under Decision No. 406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the

Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020, and

(b) progress made in furthering the achievement of the national transition objective.

Given that we are so far behind and are not doing very much with this, the idea is to force this Government, the next one or the one after - we might have two elections in a short period - to review it after six months. People might change their ideas. We might have been dragged kicking and screaming into the real world by then.

I pointed out earlier that the Governor of the Bank of England only yesterday - there is an article in the Financial Times on it - has been suddenly shouting from the rooftops about the cost of inaction on climate change to big business, which is set to become frightening not too far down the road. If those concerned had any kind of long-term vision, they would do a bit more about it now. The less they do now, the more it will cost in the long term.

It is not a good idea to bring in something which we on this side of the House think is very weak without making it a requirement to review it after it is established. I do not see why the Government should have a serious problem with making the period six months. It will not be costly to get the panel to review it. I do not see it as such a big problem. It would be a good gesture on the Government's side to take this on board.

This proposed amendment calls for the shortening in the timeframe for the expert advisory council to conduct its first periodic review from 18 months after establishment to six months. The first periodic review will, of course, be an important one, in that it is specifically charged with analysing the progress made in meeting our mitigation targets up to the year 2020 under the EU’s effort sharing decision of 2009. Of course, I understand why some would wish to see this timeframe shortened but I believe that we also have to be realistic in what we can expect of the council.

The council is not a full-time entity, although it will have at its disposal a secretariat to be provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, it will require a certain amount of time to bed down the operational structures of the council and then to begin its work of collating and analysing all available relevant information and data. I do not think it is reasonable to expect the council to do all this, and turn around a major review of mitigation policy and implementation in Ireland, within just six months.

We all want the first periodic review report to be a substantive and challenging piece of work, and to genuinely add value to the work being undertaken by the State’s institutions in achieving progress on mitigation. We must, therefore, afford the council a reasonable period of time to do its job effectively and efficiently, and it is important to note in this respect that 18 months is a maximum timeline which allows flexibility in terms of successfully completing the first periodic review.

I am afraid that six months is too short a timeframe to make a notable contribution in this regard. Accordingly, I cannot support this amendment.

We understand that there will be some good people on this council. If they have a positive approach, they might be glad to review it after six months. The Minister of State is telling me they are not permanent positions. If we are going to do this right at all, and if this body is going to cut the mustard, I do not think it is an irrational request for them to conduct a review after six months. I will be pressing the amendment.

The Minister of State said that we have to be realistic, which is true. In the real world, Ireland is not on track to reach its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. We are committed to a non-emissions trading sectors reduction of 20% between 2005 and 2020. It is widely established that we are going to be well wide of the mark for this. It is reckoned that we will only achieve a decrease of about 3% by 2020. If we provide for an 18-month period we are talking about the middle of 2017, two and a half years away from that end target. It is way too near to be able to take stock of where we are at.

Deputy Wallace is correct. Given the capabilities of some of the personnel on the expert advisory council and the importance of its task, nobody is going to shoot them if they do not produce a biblical version of the council's findings but they should be able to produce a comprehensive body of work. This has been in gestation for some time now. They are not starting from zero, yet we are starting from miles behind where we should be. In that context, six months is a far more realistic and important barometer than 18 months.

I thank the Deputies. I note their argument and that they have a genuine reason for proposing the amendment. On the other hand, I also believe we need to afford the council reasonable time to allow it to have a deep engagement with all of the sectors for what is a vital piece of work on behalf of the State. As I have already outlined, 18 months is a maximum period. There is adequate flexibility within the legislation to allow the council carry out the work within its scope in an efficient and effective time period. I am fully confident that the council will carry out its work in a very effective way and I believe we should give it that vote of confidence.

We have argued at length on this. It concerns not only us but those who will be on the advisory council. They have thought about all this. If we were happy with the Bill, we would be happy with the 18 months, but we are not happy with the Bill. We would very much like to see this aspect looked at again six months after it comes into effect. It will probably not be implemented for a couple of months as there is paperwork to be done and so on. A Bill does not come into effect overnight after we vote for it here.

We do not think the Bill is good enough, therefore, the idea of this six-month provision is a positive one because we want the legislation to be improved.

The Minister of State sounds like he is sticking to his guns on the issue but he could have given a bit on this. Things do not work fully between any two bodies unless there is some compromise. It is a bit like a marriage, which certainly would not work without compromise. We would get on better if there was a bit of compromise here. The Minister of State should agree to the amendment.

How stands the amendment?

I am pressing it.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 31; Níl, 70.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Breen, Pat.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • White, Alex.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and Emmet Stagg.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 135:

In page 17, line 36, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 136:

In page 18, to delete lines 7 to 10 and substitute the following:

“(i) progress towards achievement of—

(I) annual targets,

(II) the interim target,

(III) the 2050 target,

(ii) whether the annual targets, the interim target or the 2050 target are likely to be achieved,

(iii) any further effort which may be necessary to achieve annual targets, the interim target or the 2050 target.”.

The purpose of this amendment is to put more solid terms of reference in the periodic reviews. It is about specifying progress towards the achievement of annual targets, interim targets and the 2050 target. Although there is a certain semblance of déjà vu about the amendment, we are re-tabling it because the terms of reference for the reviews are practically non-existent in the Bill as it stands. There are no references to targets, so the reviews might as well not be conducted at all. They are somewhat purposeless unless one has a starting point. This is especially so, as the national transition objective, which is the current reference point for the reviews' content, is not fleshed out in any detail in the Bill. If one does not know what the starting point is, how does one know what one is reviewing? How does one know the goal that one is ultimately trying to reach?

The amendment seeks to give some purpose and weight to the reviews that we have stated are so important for the advisory council to carry out. While we had a lengthy discussion about who would make up the advisory council, the nature of their independence and so on, we have not given adequate input into what are their objectives. The amendment therefore seeks to make the terms of reference of the periodic reviews more substantial and relevant than the nothingness that exists at the moment.

The proposed amendment relates to reviewing progress on annual domestic mitigation targets, an interim target for 2020 and a final target for 2050. As I do not accept the validity of establishing domestic mitigation targets divorced from EU processes, I cannot support this amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 137:

In page 18, line 11, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 138:

In page 18, line 15, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 139:

In page 18, line 21, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 140 not moved.

I move amendment No. 141:

In page 18, line 31, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 142:

In page 18, line 35, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 143:

In page 18, lines 36 and 37, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 144:

In page 18, line 38, to delete "Expert Advisory Council" and substitute "Advisory Council".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 145:

In page 19, line 4, to delete "Expert Advisory Council" and substitute "Advisory Council".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 146:

In page 19, between lines 9 and 10, to insert the following:

"(f) when providing advice under subsection (1)(a), the Advisory Council shall

express a view as to—

(i) the respective contributions towards meeting the annual targets and the

domestic effort target that should be made—

(I) by the traded sector of the economy,

(II) by the other sectors of the economy,

(ii) the respective contributions towards meeting the annual targets that should be made by—

(I) energy efficiency,

(II) energy generation,

(III) land use,

(IV) transport,

(g) when providing advice under this subsection, the Advisory Council may also express a view as to any other matter that body considers appropriate including,

in particular, as to any sectors of the economy in which there are particular opportunities for contributions to be made towards meeting annual targets

through reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases,

(h) when providing advice under this subsection, the Advisory Council shall also express a view as to the cumulative amount of net emissions for the period

2010-2050 that is consistent with a reduction over that period of net emissions accounts which would allow the 2050 target to be met.".

With this amendment, we are looking to flesh out the terms of reference for the periodic review. We are looking to install some guidelines which would make up a more substantial terms of reference position. The amendment states that when providing advice under subsection (1)(a), the advisory council shall express a view as to the respective contributions towards meeting the annual targets and the domestic effort target that should be made by the traded sector of the economy and by the other sectors of the economy, and the respective contributions towards meeting the annual targets that should be made by energy efficiency, energy generation, land use and transport. The amendment stipulates that when providing advice under this subsection, the advisory council may also express a view as to any other matter that body considers appropriate, including, in particular, as to any sectors of the economy in which there are particular opportunities for contributions to be made towards meeting annual targets through reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, and that when providing advice under this subsection, the advisory council shall also express a view as to the cumulative amount of net emissions for the period 2010-50 that is consistent with a reduction over that period of net emissions accounts which would allow the 2050 target to be met.

The purpose of the amendment is to give more direction to the annual or 18-month reviews with specific reference to the possible contributions by different sectors of the economy and different sources of emissions. Our performance across the different sectors is uneven. We are going in the wrong direction on transport and we are going in a seriously wrong direction on agriculture. There seems to be no stemming of the tide. We are even out of sync with much of Europe.

These ideas are taken from the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. I do not see why we could not do our best to emulate best international practice, which is all we would be doing by inserting these conditions and following the Scottish example. This is not unreasonable given that we are so far behind.

This is a very important amendment because when we are talking about where we are going and where we want to go, we must take account of where we have come from. The amendment seeks to insert specific reference to possible contributions from different sectors of the economy and different sources of emissions. This is critical because performance is uneven. If one looks at the European Commission report on Ireland earlier this year, it graphically makes the point and sets out why we need to specify the different areas. That report stated that agricultural emissions in Ireland were expected to remain stable between 2005 and 2020. Although this was technically accurate, the statement glossed over the fact that agricultural greenhouse gas emissions had fallen by 9% by 2011 but were now increasing because of Food Harvest 2020 due to the expansion of livestock numbers, particularly dairy cattle, which meant that emissions were already up 4% in the past two years and were predicted to rise up to 2025. Clearly, this is one sector of the economy.

The report dealt with emissions in transport which, again, we are trying to specify here. It stated in respect of transport, which is the second largest non-emissions trading system sector in terms of emissions, that emissions are expected to increase significantly between 2005 and 2020 due to the lack of public transport. That has not been addressed. It looked at the continuing use of coal and increased domestic peat use that has meant that domestic heat carbon emissions rose by 2.6% in 2013 over 2012 levels, with no strategy in place to achieve high levels of household insulation and so on that would deal with this and allow us to switch from coal to low-carbon sources. We need to specify by sector. It is very important and contributes to a more bottom-up and meaningful approach to this. It is critical that we would do this and it feeds into the other discussion we had about who decides about this. It is much more democratic and accountable to specify it in the Bill.

This proposed amendment calls for the expert advisory council to report and provide advice in respect of proposed annual targets - an interim target for 2050 and a final target for 2050. As I have already explained, I do not accept the validity of the inclusion of such domestic targets in the Bill. Therefore, I cannot accept the amendment. As I said earlier, the national mitigation plan will set out the measures that each sector will implement. This is the appropriate place for such measures to be taken.

The refusal to incorporate this amendment into the Bill is not a positive sign and it makes me more worried. On that basis, we will be pressing the amendment. Given that the Scots introduced this six years ago, it is disappointing that Ireland cannot do it in 2015.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 31; Níl, 65.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bannon, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • White, Alex.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and Emmet Stagg.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 147 is in the names of Deputies Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Richard Boyd Barrett. It arises out of Committee Stage. Amendments Nos. 148 and 149 are physical alternatives to amendment No. 147 and they will be discussed together. If amendment No. 147 is agreed then amendments Nos. 148 to 150, inclusive, cannot be moved.

I move amendment No. 147:

In page 19, to delete lines 10 to 12 and substitute the following:

“(8) Not more than 10 days after submitting a periodic review report to the Minister in accordance with this section, the Advisory Council shall publish the report by such means as the Agency may advise.”.

We had much discussion on the matter already. The amendment relates to shortening the timeframe for the publication of the periodic review. We suggest ten days. As it stands the Minister will have the review on his desk for at least 60 days and up to 90 days before the public can review its content. We do not think that makes sense or is very democratic. In the context of the promised openness and transparency, ten days is adequate.

By way of background, the periodic review reports, as the name suggests, are expected to be few and far between and to involve major, substantive issues relating to either or both mitigation and adaptation. In other words, it is anticipated that the expert advisory council will only embark upon a periodic review when it is concerned about some aspect of Government policy or the implementation of that policy, as it relates to climate change.

Accordingly, I believe that it is only right and proper that sufficient time is afforded the body politic to examine and analyse a periodic review report, including its formal submission to the Government, prior to its publication. There is no intention, or indeed provision, for the Government to seek to alter or amend the periodic review report: the timeframe in the Bill is merely to allow for full prior consideration of its contents before it is released into the public domain without adulteration.

For these reasons, a ten-day deadline is simply not reasonable in terms of what is required. However, my amendment No. 148 proposes shortening the timeframe to not more than 30 days in the interests of timely public debate, while still allowing adequate time for the report to be noted by Government prior to publication. In terms of consistency, the amendment would also put the publication timeframe on a par with that in respect of the publication of the expert advisory council’s annual reports.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 148:

In page 19, line 10, to delete “Not less than 60 and not more than 90 days” and substitute “Not more than 30 days”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 149:

In page 19, line 10, to delete “Not less than 60 and not more than 90 days” and substitute “Not more than 10 days”.

The amendment is similar to previous amendments that we have put forward. The timeframe of not less than 60 days and not more than 90 days is too long. I do not accept the reasoning for that because when a report is made, it is made, and it is reasonable to indicate that the delay in publication should not be more than ten days. It is important that not alone are such reports published but that they are available to Members of this House.

I do not have anything further to add.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 150:

In page 19, line 11, to delete “Expert Advisory Council” and substitute “Advisory Council”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 151:

In page 21, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:

“Guidance to Advisory Council

15. (1) The Advisory Council shall have regard to any guidance given by the Minister to it in relation to the exercise of its functions under this Act.

(2) The Minister may not give the Advisory Council guidance as to the content of any advice or report.

(3) The power to give guidance under subsection (1) includes power to vary or revoke the guidance.”.

This is about guidance to the advisory council. There was some misunderstanding on Committee Stage about the amendment. The Minister understood it to suggest that the advisory council could be interfered with by him, whereas the purpose of the amendment is quite specific, namely, to stop any potential interference by the Minister. It is very clearly stated that the Minister may not give the advisory council guidance as to the content of any advice or report. That is taken verbatim from the Scottish Act of 2009 and its function is to ensure the independence of the functions of the advisory council from ministerial interference, which we spoke about earlier.

On one level it is interesting that the Minister joked about the matter on Committee Stage and said that he might like to interfere with the council, which gives us great confidence that we are correct to move the amendment now.

This proposed amendment provides for the Minister to give guidance to the expert advisory council relating to the exercise of its functions, excluding guidance as to the content of any advice or report.

I am somewhat surprised by the amendment, as it appears genuinely to weaken the independence of the expert advisory council. That is something many Deputies spoke about in terms of previous amendments when they expressed concern about the council's independence. The amendment requires the expert advisory council to have regard to any guidance given to it by the Minister. It is confusing and does not make sense in that regard and, accordingly, I cannot support the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 152, in the name of Deputy Wallace, arises out of committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 152 to 160, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 152:

In page 22, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:

"Reports on annual targets

16. (1) The Minister shall lay before the Houses of the Oireachtas a report in respect of each year in the period 2015-2050 for which an annual target has been set (a "target year").

(2) The report shall state whether the annual target for the target year has been met. If the annual target has not been met, the report shall explain the reason for same.

(3) The report shall also state whether the domestic effort target has been met in the target year to which the report relates.

(4) If the domestic effort target has not been met, the report shall explain the reason for same. The report shall also contain the information mentioned in section 17.

(5) The report under this section shall be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas no later than 31 October in the second year after the target year.".

We are seeking to have inserted a requirement for reports on annual targets. The amendment requires that the Minister shall lay before the Houses of the Oireachtas a report in respect of each year in the period 2015-2050 for which an annual target has been set. The report shall state whether the annual target for the target year has been met. If the annual target has not been met, the report shall explain the reason for same. The report shall also state whether the domestic effort target has been met in the target year to which the report relates. If the domestic effort target has not been met, the report shall explain the reason for same. The report shall also contain the information mentioned in section 17. Finally, the report under this section shall be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas no later than 31 October in the second year after the target year.

The detailed guidelines for reports on annual targets also come from the Scottish climate change Act of 2009. The amendments are fairly self-explanatory. They set out the details of the reports that would be carried out if we had national emissions reduction targets. Apart from the fact that it has ambitious targets, what is interesting about the Scottish Act is that it has copious detail as to how its advisory group would operate, the work it would do and the contents of the reports it would compile. There are chapters on the duties of public bodies relating to climate change mitigation, adaptation programmes, land use, forestry, energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling. In effect, what Scotland did was write the framework for the mitigation plan into law as part of its climate legislation. This begs the question as to why we are here, six years later, discussing a Bill that has no targets and no details of any plan and specifies that the plan, whatever it consists of, does not have to exist for another two years after this Bill comes into force. By the time we have monitored our progress on our first mitigation plan the EU will be knocking on the door telling us to pay up for non-compliance.

We need joined-up thinking on the issue and we need to start taking action as soon as is humanly possible. Never has an issue hammered home the idea that everything is connected so powerfully as climate change and yet here we are shirking our responsibilities to the wider world. Anyone who has read This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein will see how this connectivity is very important because everything is connected. It relates to many areas of how we organise society and the planet.

We are near the end of the debate on this Bill. It is not going to be the Bill we would like to have because it leaves much to be desired. One of these days a group of politicians in government will wake up and see that things need to be different. We do not suffer from severe flooding and do not get huge hurricanes or droughts but the truth of the matter is that many parts of the world do and, sadly, we are not playing our part to change that. We seem to be walking with our eyes closed. We do not even seem to have an appetite for doing anything about it and it is very frustrating for anyone who takes a long-term vision of where we are in the world today.

This is the last batch of amendments on what should have been an historic item of legislation for Irish society but which is, unfortunately, a bitter disappointment. We are launching a last-ditch effort to make it a bit better than it is and all of these amendments are designed to work with legislation, such as the Scottish Act on which we based many of them. That would have brought about real commitments to nationally binding emissions targets. The Minister has repeatedly stated over the past day and a half that we do not need to have this at all and it is a complete and utter irrelevancy as we are all right - we are covered by our legislation because European targets already bind us. However, we are already not going to meet those targets.

The Minister's faith in the EU and UN for setting targets is misguided. The 2030 agreements are widely considered to be a climbdown that will make keeping us within the threshold of between 2° and 3° very difficult, if not impossible. There are already reports that the COP21 Paris talks are being infiltrated by dirty energy lobbying groups which have done their best to undermine international agreements. At the COP19 Warsaw meeting, oil and gas companies, which are obviously key players in causing climate change, actually sponsored some of the talks while the President in Poland co-organised a counter-summit with the coal industry. The UN has itself proactively worked to bring business, including fossil fuel industries, into the talks and these big businesses have done all they can to block progress, from undermining the science to proposing pie-in-the-sky technological fixes or straightforward public relations spins such as the idea of clean coal. Everything is being done to ensure they keep profiting regardless of the consequences for the climate. It is true that some of the more far-sighted administrators of capitalism, such as those who spoke at the banking meetings, have seen that this is damaging and destructive to everybody but lobbying is interfering with what people are trying to do.

The Irish Times reported recently on a challenge by An Taisce over a planning approval for a €65 million road-widening scheme on the N86 between Tralee and Dingle. Its core argument was that an environmental impact study should have been carried out on the project. There was also a report that found that cuts to bus services would leave areas without any bus services at all. We are building roads without any consideration of the environmental impact while cutting bus services and failing to properly invest in rail. The NRA is allowed to do whatever it likes, whatever the consequences in terms of transport emissions, and we are continuing to give corporate welfare subsidies in the form of oil and gas fields as a present to fossil fuel companies. We have to see the Bill in this context.

We are saying we are going to do things, in a waffly way and without much content, but in reality the Government policy is to do the opposite. An indictment of this is our attitude to public transport, which is completely regrettable. We undermine rail transport and the delivery of metro lite all around the garden to the airport will not get us back on track in that area. We have not had any serious rail delivery nor have we had wave energy, offshore wind farms or geothermal stations, all of which we need if we are to seriously address climate change. Not only do we need the political will to invest in renewable energy as a core part of Ireland's public infrastructure, it is also critical to our collective survival on earth. We need the political establishment to stand up a bit more to the fossil fuel giants that are happily burning away, regardless of the consequences to ourselves or future generations just as long as profits can be made. This is all indicative of why we need emission reduction targets. It is not just because we cannot trust the international process, which is currently being undermined by lobbyists. The neoliberal policies implemented by this Government are having a negative impact and binding national targets which are independently assessed on a regular basis are the only hope we have of forcing the arm of the parties that comprise the Government and that support policies of austerity to ensure they give a damn about issues that go beyond one election term to another.

We need nationally binding targets but we also need to look beyond that to what we do next. This Government, like its predecessor, has been incredibly subservient to the unelected powers in Brussels and Frankfurt, enthusiastically embracing neoliberalism, privatisation, undermining public transport and so on. All these issues contribute to climate change. We, therefore, need more than targets - we need a new type of politics in Ireland, which has the foresight to put the good of society as the first benchmark rather than the profits of those who proclaim the benefits of the free market. What free market, private individual will spend money on smart grids, light rail, citywide composting systems, building retrofits, visionary transit systems, and urban redesigns to stop us from spending half or our lives in traffic jams? Private industry will not deliver the type of infrastructure that is necessary if we are to tackle climate change. Ms Naomi Klein stated:

The private sector is ill-suited to taking on most of these large infrastructure investments. If the services are to be accessible, which they must be in order to be effective, the profit margins that attract private players simply aren’t there.

She gave examples from Paris where air pollution meant that the city banned cars for a day and so on. We should have a free public transport system in reality to encourage people out of their cars. The Government is doing the opposite. The cost of transport has increased by more than 60% in the past five years, services are being cut, the rural train system of almost a century ago has been utterly decimated and initiatives that were put forward in the public good have been consumed by for-profit businesses. That is damaging for everybody.

These amendments are important in salvaging something from the Bill. The Government has allowed Ireland to be used as a laboratory in some ways whereby it is experimenting with treating the population as a national resource to be mined for cash, with wealth transferred from the many to the few and this just cannot go on. Neoliberalism cannot tackle climate change. We need a new way of doing things.

I have no doubt that Ireland will very much play its part in tackling climate change. It must be acknowledged that this is historic legislation, as this is the first ever Bill to deal with climate change. I am glad I am part of a Government that has delivered on its commitment to introduced such legislation. I am sure all sectors in the State will rise to the challenge and the national mitigation plan will be the vehicle for the delivery of progress in this area, utilising innovation, alternative energy, new technologies and new work practices. It is only by deeply engaging with the sectors and the stakeholders that we will achieve sustainable progress through this plan, about which I am confident.

The proposed amendments provide for the Minister to lay a range of reports in respect of domestic mitigation targets before the Houses of the Oireachtas. As I outlined in the debate, we do not accept the validity of establishing domestic mitigation targets, which are divorced from EU processes. It is on that basis I cannot support the amendments.

I just want to add a few thoughts that come to mind, having listened to the contributions. It is just not good enough for a Government as strong as this to introduce legislation as weak as this. It is only creating an appearance; it is an illusion; a mirage. The legislation needs teeth and the teeth that have been offered in the amendments by Deputies Wallace and Clare Daly are calibrated and they demonstrate a measurable intent to do something. They are not just wishful thinking or aspirational; they are calibrated. Scotland has given us a working example of how this works. Just because the EU has delivered watered down versions as a result of strong lobbying in these areas does not mean that we should accept proportional watering down. If anything, we should add a little concentrate to this because, as previous speakers said, everything is joined up. It is not only about the physics of the realities around us that apply; the financial obligations of the State and of companies to the people are related and, therefore, they need to be defined, clear and reasonable. That is what is proposed. What are the Government parties afraid of? They should not be afraid.

In a few months, if not earlier, the Government parties will seek to secure a concrete number of seats. They will aim at seats and they will not adopt a wishy, washy attitude of, "We'll do our best". They will number crunch and they will give all their supporters targets. They will make orders for poster, billboards and so on, which will be costed. Yet, they are afraid to do this in this regard for the people, which is extraordinary.

I am not sure this has anything to do with the Bill.

They should put into practice what they do in their own self-interest.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard Durkan)

The Deputy should stick to the amendments and the Bill.

That is related to the amendment.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard Durkan)

Posters have nothing to do with the Bill.

This is like the Ceann Comhairle earlier, who could not see that my contribution and the questions I asked were connected with the legislation and programme for Government. It is not the case that a steel trap door comes down and Members cannot talk about anything else. Of course, we can. This is a Parliament, from the French word "parler", to talk about ideas. These are small ideas and calibrations and the Government parties should go for them. They will have big targets over the next few months trying to win so many seats in so many areas.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Bernard Durkan)

That has nothing to do with the amendment at all.

It is very relevant.

This is bewildering.

Deputy Mathews has emphasised the lack of joined-up thinking and he has made a good point.

In February this year, the European Commission launched its draft country report, Ireland 2015, which said:

Ireland is not on track to reach its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. No progress was made in identifying how Ireland commits itself to meeting its existing binding climate and energy targets for the period up to 2020 in an integrated way and how best to use the earmarked available EU support for the structural development needed in the different areas.

The Commission is even insinuating that Ireland is missing out on funding because the Government has failed to go in a certain direction and to take certain initiatives. It is pretty damning.

An Taisce has been heavily involved in this area. Mr. Charles Stanley-Smith of the organisation's climate change committee said: "To be found to be not on track to meet the targets is damning enough but to be reported as not having an integrated way of making the huge improvements will be truly cataclysmic". The Government parties have omitted mandatory targets from the Bill. It is as if they do not want to know. The notion is that we have EU obligations and, therefore, we are fine but it is obvious that we are not given that we are not even meeting a target that was set in 2005 of a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020. We are only coming up with approximately 3%.

It is glaringly obvious that we especially need targets. It is criminal that they are not included in this Bill.

There are a number of amendments remaining and they will have to dealt with on the next occasion.

Debate adjourned.