Labour is committeed to action on climate change
Labour played a major part in pushing for concrete recommendations in the report of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, just as Labour brought forward Ireland's first climate law. Labour will push for the full implementation of the report’s recommendation so that Ireland's meets its international obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming to 1.5°C. Ireland’s current emissions are 60 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year. This must fall to 33 million tonnes by 2030, and to net zero by 2050.
The link on this page is to Labour's Greening of Ireland 2017 discussion paper on climate action.
This video is Seán Sherlock (our rep on the Climate Committee) speaking at the climate change protest in Cork in March 2019:
Labour championed the following recommendations in the report:
- Labour championed the concept of Carbon Budgets. This means five-year carbon budgets to be devised by a new Climate Action Council, with each Department – and the sector it regulates – given a maximum level of emissions, which will reduce annually. To be consistent with the Paris Agreement, Ireland’s emissions should reduce by 5% to 10% per year, achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
- Labour successfully sought the inclusion of a Just Transition as a central idea in the report and the recommendation for a Just Transition Task Force to be set up. A Just Transition means that the policies we develop now should ensure people have decent, sustainable livelihoods if their jobs are displaced in the move to a low carbon economy, and it involves exploring opportunities to green existing jobs, and creating new jobs in areas such as energy retrofitting for buildings, sustainable forestry and peatland restoration.
- Labour’s clear preference is for ring-fenced funds for climate action from carbon taxes to pay for home retrofitting and other ways of reducing energy poverty, while also making electric vehicles more affordable and developing public transport, especially rural transport (in line with the Citizens Assembly recommendations).
- Labour fought for a target of 100,000 annually for home energy retrofitting (as recommended by the Climate Change Advisory Council) and we will seek ambitious targets over and above the targets in the report.
- Labour spearheaded the drive to include Community Energy as part of the solution to sustainable energy use and generation, so that the transition to a clean energy system happens in a fairer, more democratic and decentralised manner (e.g. including co-operatives and community ownership of wind electricity generation).
Labour proposed a Diversification Task Force for farmers. This Task Force would develop alternative ways of generating farm incomes, as options for farmer who urgently need a workable plan to reduce agricultural emissions, while ensuring they can make a decent living for their families.
Labour pushed hard to promote alternative forest systems (like continuous cover and broadleaf forests), as better for climate change mitigation and as providing many co-benefits including improved water quality, sustaining biodiversity, providing community recreation facilities and potentially generating new jobs.
Labour fought hard for targets for peatland restoration in the report and for resources to be allocated to peatland restoration. Drained peat bogs release massive quantities of stored carbon into the atmosphere, but re-wetted bogs store carbon.
Labour's other aims on climate and the environment include:
- Set a target of making our cities carbon neutral through an ambitious 20-year strategy
- Begin to pay annual premia to farmers who convert sections of their land to growing trees
- Further empower a Citizens Assembly to decide on whether the constitution should recognise the state's role as guardian of the environment, our heritage and our natural resources, including the public water supply
- Pedestrianise more of the city centre and set a target of making Dublin a carbon-neutral city in an ambitious 20-year plan
- Promote a strong green agenda that strikes at the roots of flooding
- Increase the number of EU LIFE projects for heritage-led regeneration and preservation of farmland, forestry and waterways across rural Ireland