Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 4 October 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action
The Joint Committee met at 14:00
Deputy Mary Butler, Senator Paul Daly, Deputy Jack Chambers, Senator Máire Devine, Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Senator Ian Marshall, Deputy Pat Deering, Senator Grace O'Sullivan. Deputy Timmy Dooley, Deputy John Lahart, Deputy Tom Neville, Deputy Thomas Pringle, Deputy Eamon Ryan, Deputy Brian Stanley,
In attendance: Deputy Anne Rabbitte.
DEPUTY HILDEGARDE NAUGHTON IN THE CHAIR.
I wish to raise a point. Last week, the Secretary General of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment stated that he was about to present a consultation paper on how we will meet the new national energy and climate action plan to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Denis Naughten, which would be published and a copy of which would be sent to the committee. The Minister has not received the paper and neither has the committee. Similarly, we asked in advance of this meeting that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport provide a list of the new projects or initiatives it is considering. However, the opening statement of Mr. Doyle provided to the committee in advance contains a litany of measures from the national mitigation plan, which is not working, as the Minister admitted. The public service must recognise that it needs to provide a service to the committee by being absolutely frank and providing such modelling detail in order that we know what are the options. The Oireachtas Library and Research Service has done very good work in presenting some of the analysis but it cannot do so effectively without knowing what the Departments are thinking. Unfortunately, that has been our experience so far and the practice must stop.
I acknowledge that members are indicating to speak on this issue. I will first address the formalities of the meeting and then allow members to comment on the issues raised by Deputy Eamon Ryan.
I ask members and those in the Public Gallery to turn off their mobile phones or switch them to flight mode as they interfere with the broadcasting service. On behalf of the committee, I welcome from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Mr. Graham Doyle, Secretary General, Ms Laura Behan, principal officer, and Ms Carol O'Reilly, public transport investment division. I also welcome Ms Anne Graham, chief executive officer of the National Transport Authority.
Before we commence our formal proceedings, I wish to advise the witnesses that by virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. However, if they are directed by it to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. Witnesses are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given, and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person, persons or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. Members are reminded of the long-standing ruling of the Chair to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
Before I call Mr. Doyle to make his opening statement, I call Deputy Pringle, who wishes to address the issue raised by Deputy Eamon Ryan.
I support Deputy Eamon Ryan regarding the points he raised. It is clear from the contributions of the witnesses last week that the committee does not figure in how the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment views the work it is doing, which is a very worrying development. That is no fault of our guests. The situation may be entirely different in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. However, it is very worrying that the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, which should be answerable to this committee, may hold that view. It raises doubts as to what we will be able to achieve if that view is representative of the engagement the committee will have with officialdom.
Copies of the opening statement to be made by Mr. Doyle have been supplied . The statement contains a significant amount of good information, although members were already aware of much of it. I ask our guests to concentrate on assisting us by outlining what needs to happen.
We need action items and paths to getting there. This is about the tough questions we will have to answer in terms of the recommendations we make from here on.
In the context of taking us back through everything that has happened, we know all that. To make use of the time, we can take a lot of what has been provided as read except any new information and detail on how we will close the gap on the transportation side in respect of emissions. If the witnesses are not prepared for that, I suggest they leave it and return on another day. We have a tight slot and are trying to get through things. We do not want to spend a lot of time rehashing where matters stand.
At the previous meeting, the first two contributions took 50 minutes. There is an order of speakers on this issue and I ask that it be observed in fairness to all members. A rota of speakers was agreed and circulated. The issues we are discussing now can be by raised by members according to the order of speakers agreed.
Mr. Graham Doyle:
Deputy Eamon Ryan mentioned a request to the Department in advance of this meeting. I am afraid we do not seem to have received that request. On the opening statement, we are joined by Ms Anne Graham, chief executive of the National Transport Authority, and we have decided to make one opening statement. As such, Deputy Stanley's concerns about taking up the first hour of the meeting should not be realised. I am very happy to go through my opening statement if the Chair wishes.