Farming

Rural TDs heckle Green Party leader Eamon Ryan as he brings Climate Bill to the Dáil

Opposition parties have signalled they will seek multiple amendments to the Climate Bill as the landmark legislation had its first Dáil debate.

limate Action Minister Eamon Ryan presented the bill as symbolising a “time of action and hope” that would chart the way to a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and trigger “social transformation”.

The bill creates a legal obligation on current and future governments to work to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 with an interim target of a 51pc reduction by 2030.

Mr Ryan was heckled repeatedly by Rural Independent TDs who accused him of trying to wipe out farming, destroy rural Ireland and obscure the true cost of climate action.

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Former environment minister Denis Naughten claimed the bill was “anti-Irish” and said it would take decision-making away from the Oireachtas in a way that not even Stalin would have tried.

Left-wing TDs criticised the minster for not being radical enough and said the bill would fail to bring about the necessary change to the capitalist system that protected corporate polluters.

Sinn Fein TDs broadly welcomed the bill but said provisions around just transition and climate justice needed to be strengthened to ensure the changes ahead would not hurt the vulnerable.

They also raised concerns aired by prominent academics that the wording around the 2030 target differed from that relating to the 2050 target, making it doubtful it could be legally binding.

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Labour expressed concern that certain government policies such as supporting rapid growth in data centres were incompatible with the bill.

The Social Democrats said an explicit ban on the importation of fracked gas and the installation of related infrastructure needed to be included, and said greater emphasis was required on the related biodiversity crisis.

Greens leader Mr Ryan has the support of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil for the bill so its passing is all but secured but the number of amendments set to be tabled means this may not happen until June.

Mr Ryan credited the student climate movement with creating the impetus for getting the bill to this stage.

“It was their influence at a critical time in this country and across the world that set the scene,” he said. “They’re the ones that must take credit.”

The bill was aired the same day the EU formally agreed on a net zero target for the bloc by 2050, with tough 2030 reductions in the interim.

EU leaders and the minister are today due to take part in a major climate summit convened by US President Joe Biden aimed at pushing countries that have not already committed to emissions reductions to set out their plans publicly.

The online event takes place on the 51st international Earth Day, which aims to place focus on the major ecological crises facing the planet.

Those crises were made clear this week by the World Meteorological Organisation, which warned that global temperatures, ice melting and sea level rise were all accelerating. The International Energy Agency has also forecast emissions would rise further this year.

Irish Independent

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