Extinction Rebellion Ireland rejects the proposed draft Programme for Government as being “full of fluff, and not good enough” to address the climate crisis. In a statement, a representative of Extinction Rebellion Ireland said:
We in Extinction Rebellion believe it is our role to always tell the truth as backed by science, and the truth is that this programme for government is not good enough. As young activists, it is not good enough for our futures. As parents, it is not good enough for our children’s futures. As citizens we do not believe it is good enough for Ireland’s future or the planet.
The PfG is a textbook example of spin, jam-packed with fluffy aspirations, but lacking in substance. Paying lip service to environmentalism should not be used as a cover for austerity. It demonstrates a lack of commitment to dealing with the climate crisis and a lack of understanding of a just transition.
The UN Environment Programme has been clear that we need a MINIMUM of 7.6% emissions reductions every year till 2030. If we do not achieve those reductions we will trigger irreversible runaway climate change. The PfG fudges the question of how to achieve a 7% reduction, essentially kicking the can down the road to a future government, which all but guarantees we will not meet our 2030 targets.
We believe that the climate and biodiversity crisis should be treated as an emergency, and that this programme does not do so. We urge members of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, and the Green Party to consider this when voting on the Programme for Government. A half-hearted, delayed approach to solving the climate crisis is not good enough. Net-zero by 2050 is not good enough. The Programme for Government is not good enough.
Extinction Rebellion Ireland have pointed out the following as examples of some of the specific shortcomings in the Programme for Government:
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions – The PfG makes no concrete pledge about how much greenhouse emissions will be cut over the lifetime of this government, instead making a target for the decade, and saying the “strong climate action” will be left to the next government, outside the scope of this PFG. According to Professor John Sweeney stated, ‘backloading the 7% commitment to the second half of this decade is not good, and runs the risk of repeating the experience of the past, when aspirations and commitments were not realised’.
- Full of fluff – The PfG uses the word ‘review’ 127 times, ‘examine’ 68 times and ‘consider’ 44 times. It also promises a dozen different commissions. This is clearly politics as usual, promises little solid progress, and will not deliver the systematic change we need.
- Agricultural emissions – The PfG refers to “The special economic and social role of agriculture and the distinct characteristics of biogenic methane” which, as John Sweeney has pointed out, is nonsense. Methane is methane and it traps heat at 72 times the rate of CO2.
- Eco-Austerity, not Climate Justice – The PfG plans to quadruple the Carbon Tax from its current level, re-introduce water charges by the back door, and will guarantee more austerity in the later years of the government. This stands in contrast to the climate justice advocated by the school strikes, XR, global movements, etc and directly contradicts the idea of a real just transition.
- Fracked Gas and LNG terminals – The PfG does announce withdrawing the Shannon LNG Terminal from the EU projects of Common Interest in 2021, but makes no reference to the possible Cork LNG Terminal. On the broader issue of importation of fracked gas, it promises to “develop a policy statement” opposing it, but includes no guarantee it will be banned.
- Biodiversity – Nature is dying and the PfG offers nothing concrete to address this. One example of this is in the lack of commitment to Marine Protected Areas. This is absolutely crucial in the fight against climate change. Ireland is signed up to the Convention on Biological Diversity committing us to 30% of our marine water being Marine Protected Areas (MPA) by 2030 with 10% by 2020. We are only at 2.3% now and there’s no mention of this in the PfG.