Climate Justice: Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015

Posted on October 14, 2015

Climate Justice: Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

I was delighted to see the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 back in the Seanad for discussion this week, it's been a long time coming!

In 2007, when I was first elected to the Seanad as an Independent, I introduced a Private Members’ Bill, the Climate Protection Bill 2007, with Friends of the Earth Ireland, which would have signed us up to binding emission-reduction targets. The then Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government had a commitment to similar legislation but, unfortunately, it was unable to agree the text of a Bill.

I'm pleased to see that the debate has progressed and was passed in the Dáil before reaching us. 

Here is my contribution or follow the link for the whole debate transcript:

Senator Ivana Bacik: I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Gerald Nash, to the House in the place of the Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly. I welcome today's introduction of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill to the Seanad on Second Stage. I acknowledge the presence in the Visitors' Gallery of Mr. Oisín Coghlan of Friends of the Earth. I acknowledge the enormous role Friends of the Earth has played in advocating climate protection legislation. As Friends of the Earth has said, Senators and the Seanad have played a major role in seeking to ensure cross-party consensus on the need to bring forth climate legislation. I said earlier on the Order of Business that in 2007 I introduced a Private Members' Bill on climate protection, which we debated on Second Stage. Other such legislation has been debated in this House, but it has never gone beyond that point. We should recall that the Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht previously produced a cross-party consensus document on climate protection. This legislation has had a long genesis, as acknowledged by the Minister of State and other speakers.

  It is very welcome that we see today this Bill setting out a comprehensive institutional framework for establishing, maintaining and reporting on both mitigation and adaptation policy measures up to 2050. I acknowledge the important amendments made to this Bill in the Dáil on Committee and Report Stages, particularly the latter, during which the Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly, introduced eight significant sets of amendments. These have been broadly welcomed by commentators on the Bill. I refer in particular to the fact that the independence of the Climate Advisory Council is now explicitly stated. The council can now publish its own reports. I refer also to the inclusion of a reference to the principle of climate justice. This was sought by many groups, not least development groups such as Trócaire and Oxfam, which have also been campaigning for a Bill of this type, but from a rather different but none the less very important perspective based on their work on development and developing countries.

  The Minister of State referred to other very important amendments, including that on the requirement to produce a national mitigation plan every five years, rather than every seven years as previously envisaged. As the Minister of State said, there is a reduction in the timeframe for the production of the first national mitigation plan from 24 months to 18 months after the enactment of the Bill. There are also further important reporting requirements. The expert advisory council must publish periodic reports not more than 30 days after submission to the Minister. Previously, however, the timeframe was between 60 days and 90 days. Therefore, we have seen quite a number of significant changes that will make the reporting and monitoring requirements in the Bill more robust and in tune with what we all wish to see.  All of those who spoke on the Bill and were involved in the campaign for this sort of legislation share a recognition that this is perhaps the most pressing international issue that confronts us across the world, in developing and developed societies. While the economic crisis since 2008 has perhaps taken the focus off climate change, for some decades now it has been acknowledged that substantive and positive action measures need to be adopted on an urgent basis in order to ensure that we address climate change and try to curb the dreadful and devastating effects of global warming across developing countries, in particular.

  I will not say more at this stage because I will participate on Committee and Report Stages. I apologise that I could not be here for the full debate. We have a busy schedule in the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, of which I am a member. I wanted to welcome the introduction of the Bill to the Seanad, to speak on its role in putting forward climate change legislation and to say that we look forward to the very swift commencement of the Bill. When is it proposed to commence it following its enactment?

  I look forward to the bedding down of the robust framework that the Bill will introduce to ensure we meet targets on climate change. There has been much debate on the issue and I have lobbied on binding targets, but if we can see a robust institutional framework bedding down and working to achieve change, then clearly the Bill will serve its purpose. I look forward to the debate in the House and thank the Minister for bringing it here.


Senator Fidelma Healy Eames:   The Bill is not ideal, but I welcome it. It is good to see it going through the House. I would like to know whether it will be enacted during the Government's term. I understand in 2009 - Senator Bacik might be able to verify that-----

Senator Ivana Bacik:   It was in 2007.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames:   -----the first Bill went through the House. I understand it was the Senator's Bill.

Senator Ivana Bacik:   Yes, it was.



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