The Green Party is to demand the introduction of climate change legislation as its price for continuing in government with Fianna Fáil.
Green ministers will propose the plan for the legislation at talks on a new programme for government in the aftermath of the June 5 local and European elections.
A climate change bill would make government commitments to reduce carbon emissions and other measures to combat global warming legally binding. A similar law has been introduced in Britain.
Commitments in the existing programme for government to reduce carbon emissions are likely to be met, but mainly because of the economic contraction - particularly in the construction industry - rather than because of reduction measures.
The Greens want to enshrine further reductions in law before the economy recovers and the emissions begin to climb again.
The Greens’ calls for a renegotiation of the programme for government are thought to be more than just an effort by the party to distance itself from an unpopular Fianna Fáil for the duration of the election campaign.
According to senior party sources, the smaller coalition party believes that Fianna Fáil’s weakness - and desperation to avoid a general election - places the Green Party in a stronger position to secure its own policy priorities.
In effect, the Greens intend to raise the price for their continued participation in government, securing guarantees on key issues such as reducing carbon emissions. The greatest sources of carbon emissions in Ireland are the transport and agricultural sectors - or ‘‘cars and cows’’, as policy makers have dubbed them.
The government has already committed to a 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by the year 2020.
If the climate change summit in Copenhagen this December is successful, that could increase further. A climate change bill would set down steps which industries would have to take, in order to reduce emissions in line with this target.
Sunday Business Post