December 21, 2023
Climate Action Plan 24 keeps Ireland on a path to climate failure – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Climate Action and the Environment, Darren O’Rourke TD, has criticised the government’s latest update to the Climate Action Plan, arguing that it fails to recognise that their approach to date simply hasn’t worked.

Commenting on the proposals that were published yesterday evening, the Meath East TD said:

“This latest iteration of the Climate Action Plan has landed. Despite clear warning signs that a decisive change in approach was needed in order to reach our 2030 emissions reduction targets, the government continue to bury their heads in the sand.

“While we welcome the plan’s ambitions to accelerate the roll out of renewable energy, to increase retrofitting and to expand active travel, significant problems remain. First, these proposals go nowhere far enough and perhaps more significantly, yet again failed to correct for the fact that, from the perspective of Sinn Féin and others, the government’s approach is fundamentally flawed.

“Take retrofitting for example. Even if the slow progress to date was sped up, and the long waiting lists eliminated, this still would not correct for the fact that their regressive retrofitting schemes are deeply inequitable, with low- and middle-income earners unable to afford the transition to a more energy efficient home. 

“Similarly, the continued failure to adopt more targeted and dynamic implementation procedures will continue to lock-in less efficient modes of delivery. In contrast, Sinn Féin’s tiered, area-based approach would deliver at the pace and scale needed while ensuring no one is left behind.   

“Similarly, when it comes to the delivery of Ireland’s 80% renewable electricity targets, the problems are so acute that both Wind Energy Ireland and the SEAI have argued that they are slipping further and further away. Instead of improving, the situation in planning and in grid appears to be further deteriorating as is evidenced but the latest renewables auction. RESS3 cleared the lowest amount of onshore wind and solar at the highest ever price. The fact this government continues to try to peddle that as a success shows just how out of touch they are.

“I am also concerned at the emphasis this plan places on Carbon Capture and Storage – a technology that is yet to prove successful, affordable or even possible. Certainly it is an avenue for exploration but given the questions that remain and the concerns raised about it at COP 28, I am calling on the government to exercise caution.

“And while I welcome the fact that the plan addresses the long-flagged gaps in the government’s emissions accounting, it is very late in coming and does little to address the fact that, according to the Climate Change Advisory Council, the government is on track to blow right past them. 

“Finally, in its Annex of Actions, I note that this year’s plan departs with the specificity and detail of previous ones. Perhaps this is because it was becoming increasingly obviously that the government is certain adept at setting targets, but is less equipped to actually deliver them. For example, the latest quarterly progress report for CAP 23 noted reported a success rate of just 29% – perhaps an embarrassment they wished to avoid next year. However, continued transparency and accountability is an essential tool in the fight against climate change. 

“We know that the government is failing to deliver at the pace and scale needed to reach our 2030 targets, with many communities feeling left behind in the drive towards sustainability. Projections published by the EPA in June this year showed the country was, at best, on track to deliver a 29 percent cut in emissions. They warned that the continued lack of delivery of large-scale practical actions to decarbonise activities in all sectors would see us exceed our carbon budgets.

“Climate Action Plan 24 represented an opportunity to course correct and to assuage these fears through the implementation of progressive and ambitious measures as part of a just transition. Disappointingly, however, it seems Ireland will continue its march towards climate failure.”

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