Brian Stanley TD hosted a presentation on climate change in Leinster House today. The purpose was to invite other TDs into the discussion of a new Climate Change Bill. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has repeatedly promised to present a draft for a new climate bill, but so far that publication has been delayed. Deputy Stanley from Sinn Féin has therefore presented a version of a bill that he is hoping will inspire action and result in new legislation on climate change in Ireland.

Three speakers presented their view on the need for legislation and what such a bill should include. Ciara Kirrane from Trócaire spoke of climate change in general, and how global warming is affecting the most vulnerable countries in the world, rather than those who are mainly responsible. Her main example was the situation in Malawi where 90 % of the population is dependent on agriculture, and where global warming is already causing draughts and floods, causing an already vulnerable population to face great difficulties. She was making the point that the work of Trócaire is made more complicated by climate change, and that is why they are lobbying for a strong legislation.

Robin Hanan from European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), Ireland, stepped up to the podium next and gave his speech with a more local focus. He said that the EAPN sees climate change as “the next big crisis coming down the tracks” and that Ireland must plan so that the poor and vulnerable in society aren’t hit as hard as they were by the economic crisis. No matter how strong legislation is brought through; Ireland will still need to adapt to climate changes, and Mr Hanan argued the need to plan how to execute this so as to protect the weakest in Irish society.

The last speaker, Molly Walsh from Friends of the Earth (FoE), then delivered a very clear structure of what a climate bill must include, and all speakers seemed to agree with her suggestions. There must be targets for cuts in emissions; FoE suggested 25-40 % for 2020 and 80-90 % for 2050. The bill should also include climate budgets, plans for five year periods all the way to 2050 to ensure that each sitting government does its part. The parliament must be held to account for the progress, but there should also be an independent body, a committee of scientists and academics, working as advisors for the government.

The panel then opened up for questions from the floor and the cost of inaction was brought up among other things. The briefing finished up with a few short words from Brian Stanley comparing a climate bill to a map, a way of finding where the target is, and how to get there.

Short video from Sinn Féin summing up the briefing today.