Dáil debates

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Climate Change Policy

9:22 am

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I do not doubt the Minister of State's commitment in this area. However, I am not convinced by his statement that this will be an overall approach and principled document. We need to make this a central spine of the climate action plan. We need to have very clear targets, some of which need to be new. The Minister of State has certainly adopted halving of food waste, but what about removing all plastic from incineration or landfill by a certain date? How about doubling the size of the reuse sector? Those sorts of changes will require concrete actions. To say that this will be a high principled document and that concrete actions will come later will sell us short.

We can have very concrete actions, for example, banning the "best before" or "sell buy" labels on food. That would be a very practical change that would suddenly change the extent to which we waste food or people are encouraged to waste food. A requirement that 20% of floor space in larger supermarkets be set aside for people who bring their own containers would be a very concrete change to reduce the amount of plastic that is discarded and used only once.

Those actions are needed and we need a concrete budget. I believe the allocation to the circular economy initiated recently was €250,000. Given that we are looking to every section in the economy to develop a roadmap to change the way it designs and manage markets, that is only a drop in the ocean. Most of all, the Government needs to establish indicators. Successive Governments have talked about green procurement, but without any concrete indicators. We need to recognise that such an approach can be considerably less adversarial than some of the debate we have on emission targets alone. I think people instinctively understand we should be sharing and reusing. I urge the Minister of State to make this an essential spine of the climate strategy.


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