Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, today called on the government to urgently change tack in its efforts to address the climate crisis.
Speaking following the release Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) latest predictions, the Meath East TD said:
“Ireland should not be missing emissions targets. We have enviable access to renewable resources. The problem is we have a government that is incapable of delivering on anything.
“On every issue, from housing to health to emissions, we have a government that sets targets that it is incapable of meeting.
“We need to be ambitious. We need to have deliverable plans to reduce emissions. And we need to support people to play their part as the vast majority of people want to do.
“The problem is that on top of their failures to meet targets, this government has also focused on penalising people whose financial circumstances prevent them from retrofitting their homes or moving to electric cars rather than on facilitating and enabling people to make these changes.
“By failing to take measures to crack down on the super wealthy who contribute proportionally far more emissions than the average person including through the continued use of private jets they have created a sense of unfairness that undermines efforts to reduce emissions.
“The EPA’s latest predictions paint a very worrying picture. In the third year of our first carbon budget, we are on course to cut our emissions by just 29%, rather than the 51% we are committed to at home and the 42% we are legally bound to at the EU level.
“Ireland is way behind where we need to be. We are falling short almost all across the board. This government must acknowledge that their plan is not working, that it lacks the scale and ambition to deliver and that a new approach is urgently needed.
“In Sinn Féin, we are ready to deliver change, to bring about a genuinely just transition that ensures no one is left behind as we address the challenge that confronts us.
“We need to rapidly upscale our transition towards renewables, to unleash the opportunity that Ireland has to become a world leader in this sector. And it is essential that the benefits are shared equitably, rather than concentrated in the hands of a few.
“Massive planning delays put all projects in jeopardy and we need to urgently address these problems.
“Sinn Féin has also called for the dividends policies of our semi-states to be revised, to increase the level of reinvestment into renewable energy in this decade.
“This would enable them to capture a greater share of overall new green energy production, improving our energy security and positioning these companies to return dividends to the taxpayer from green energy generation into the future.
“This Climate Action Plan is heavy on additional charges for motorists, but light on detail when it comes to more buses, trains and trams. Increasing the cost of transport does not work if the alternatives are not there. Instead of front-loading investment in sustainable transport, the government has prioritised punitive charges.
“Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget called for a €200m injection in public transport next year to help reduce emissions, by cutting fares, investing in new rail infrastructure, accelerating the rollout of rural bus services and making public transport safer and more accessible.
“The government’s retrofitting scheme needs a complete overhaul. Most people cannot afford to retrofit their home. The government’s plan fails to address this. It is socially regressive, deeply inequitable, and inadequately targeted and regulated.
“This government cannot treat this as business as usual and they cannot spin their way out of this. They must urgently change tack.”