Climate Bill must be strengthened to put communities in the driving seat - Darren O’Rourke TD
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Climate Action Darren O’Rourke TD tonight responded to the Second Stage passing of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021.
Teachta O'Rourke said Sinn Féin will bring forward constructive amendments at Committee Stage to ensure the transition to a climate neutral economy by 2050 is done in a fair and progressive way, and one that puts local communities in the driving seat.
Calling on Minister Ryan to engage positively with Opposition proposals at Committee Stage, the Meath East TD said a Climate Bill that is blind to the concerns of local communities will be doomed to fail.
Teachta O'Rourke said:
“The passage of the Climate Bill to Committee Stage is an important step. It means we will now have the opportunity to table amendments to address the bill's shortcomings.
“For too long climate action has been done to communities not with communities. We in Sinn Féin remain very concerned about the bill's weak language and lack of meaningful commitment to a 'Just Transition'.
"We want to make sure decisions taken into the future, to meet the targets contained in the Bill, are progressive and fair and have local communities at their core.
“It is vitally important that this commitment is enshrined in this legislation. This is where successive governments have failed, time and again. They have left people behind.
“Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have opted, all too comfortably, for punitive measures which hurt the most vulnerable in our society. As a result, for the vast majority of ordinary families, climate action is associated with cost, cost, cost.
"Increased taxes in the form of carbon tax, increased fuel costs, increased home heating costs, increased electricity costs. It is all stick. For families who are dependent on their car and who do not have the money to install a heat pump or to have their home retrofitted, climate action amounts to insult followed by injury.
“Sinn Féin have consistently pointed out that the carbon tax is not a behavioural tax when affordable alternatives are not there.
"Successive Governments carry on regardless and, as a direct result, there is huge scepticism about their genuine commitment to address the climate crisis in a fair, just and real way.
“Bord na Móna workers and communities in the Midlands know first-hand the difference between climate rhetoric and climate action. Their 'Just Transition' has failed to materialise in anything other than government press statements.
“This Climate Bill must not be blind to the concerns of local communities. If we are to successfully move away from our reliance on fossil fuels, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a carbon neutral economy, we need a plan that brings communities with us, not penalises them, or indeed forgets all about them.”