Tuesday, 3 July 2018
Establishment of Special Joint Committee on Climate Action: Motion
I welcome the setting up of the special committee on climate change. I acknowledge the efforts of the Citizens' Assembly in its discussions on how to make Ireland not just compliant in respect of climate change mitigation but also a leader. This is something we need to remember as we experience this unprecedented heatwave and other recent weather phenomena which are happening with increasing frequency every year. Just last month, a European report found that Ireland ranks worst in Europe for taking action against climate change, yet the Minister responsible for climate action denies this, which is quite unbelievable.
As Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan indicated, Report Stage of my Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill will be taken in the Dáil next week. The Bill proposes to compel the Government to divest public money in the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund from fossil fuel companies. If enacted, it will compel Ireland to comply with Article 2 of the Paris Agreement, which expects countries to make finance flows consistent with the pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. I thank the Government for its support in seeing the Bill progress and I hope to see it pass next week. I also thank those from Trócaire and the Global Legal Action Network, GLAN, who worked diligently on the content of the Bill. I hope Deputies across the House will support it as it progresses. Divestment is one of a broad range of actions Government must take if we are to mitigate climate change. I look forward to working on those issues as they come before the new committee.
Let us not forget that it is vulnerable populations around the world that will pay the price. People are already dying from climate change. It is our responsibility in the West to do what is in our power to carry the burden for those who cannot protect themselves.
As a member of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, I am aware that the agriculture sector has a lot of catching up to do and that there are many camps on the issue of climate change within that sector. We need real and concrete solutions that reflect burden sharing that is fair and appropriate. Larger farmers and factories produce phenomenally more carbon emissions than small-scale farmers. The burden sharing is entirely disproportionate. Large companies in the agriculture sector should be compelled to play their part in climate action while small farmers should be supported in their attempts to reduce carbon emissions as well as assessing climate risk. I hope to look more closely at this scenario in my work in the special committee on climate change as well as exploring the full range of opportunities available to Ireland. I look forward to seeing a more ambitious initiative coming before the Houses as a result. This would help make Ireland a leader rather than a lagger on the issue of climate change.