INDEPENDENT senators have stolen a march on the Green Party with the introduction of a comprehensive environmental bill that aims to enshrine climate change targets in law.
The provisions of the Climate Protection Bill, tabled by Senator Ivana Bacik, closely mirrors the commitments secured by the Greens before entering government with Fianna Fáil.
According to the bill, there should be a statutory goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 3% per year from 2010, as well as providing for long-term goals of reducing emissions by at least 60% in 2050.
About 20,000 people adjoined to Friends of the Earth and environment NGOs sent emails to the 60 elected senators yesterday urging them to support the bill. In advance of last night’s debate, the Greens and Ms Bacik agreed cross-party consensus on the bill should be sought ahead of a vote in December.
In his address to the Seanad, Environment Minister John Gormley said the bill should proceed on the basis of an all-party approach on climate change targets and objectives.
“Our efforts to achieve this national consensus would be undermined if we could not reach consensus among the parties in these Houses,” he said.
“I believe that all parties are genuine in their stated commitment to tackling climate change. If that is indeed the case, we should rise above adversarial politics and show united leadership to the Irish people.”
His party colleague Senator Deirdre de Burca said it was “extremely disappointing” a private members’ motion proposed by her party in 2005 seeking an all-party approach to dealing with the issue of climate change was voted down by both Labour and Fine Gael.
“I am calling on FG and Labour here today to get down off the fence and to stop playing political football with the deadly important issue of climate change,” she said.
“I invite them to join a new all-party commission on climate change that will agree the objectives and policy measures that will allow this country to meet the annual targets of 3% reductions in carbon dioxide emissions included in the current programme for government.”