Dáil debates

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Environmental Policy: Motion [Private Members]


4:45 pm

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour) | Oireachtas source

I move: “That Dáil Éireann:

recognises that:

— environmental pollution and degradation are all too often the by-products of our economy;

— the European Union has operated the polluter pays principle since 1987, and today this principle is enshrined in Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

— while overall air quality in Ireland is relatively good compared to other industrialised countries, poor air quality persists in many areas due to traffic and the burning of solid fuels, leading to the premature deaths of over 1,500 people every year according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);

— the water quality of nearly half of Ireland’s river sources is unsatisfactory, according to the EPA, and less than one per cent of river sections can be described as 'pristine', while nine of our rivers have the status of 'seriously polluted';

— thousands of tonnes of waste are collected annually from litter or illegal dumping; and

— 150 or more quarries around Ireland are unauthorised and unregulated, and cause pollution and the destruction of habitat;

declares that:

— Ireland needs to adopt fundamental changes in our economic model, in favour of stronger environmental regulation, to prevent harm and to hold accountable those who cause environmental harm; and

— the best model for Ireland to emulate is a north European social democratic market economy, such as exists in Denmark, Finland, Sweden or the Netherlands; and

calls on the Government to:

— recognise that under-regulation of economic activity or lax enforcement of existing rules allows greater levels of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions to occur;

— legislate to reinforce the polluter pays principle, including a requirement for greenhouse gas emissions to be included as a core component of company accounts in enterprises with 50 or more employees and all enterprises in highly polluting industries;

— immediately enact a nationwide ban on smoky coal, which has already been proven to work in many larger urban areas without legal challenge;

— produce a National Clean Air Strategy;

— produce a National Clean Water Strategy;

— urgently present and implement a plan to regulate all quarries and to eliminate illegal dumps; and

— provide a quantified account of how the measures in the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 will reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions to reach the target of 33 million tonnes by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

I am sharing my time with Deputy Burton, if she turns up.


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