Government must invest in our planet to protect our future
Marking Earth Day 2023 (Saturday, 22nd April) Labour Senator Annie Hoey has called on the Government to ramp up Ireland’s climate action effort, and to use windfall tax receipts to ease the financial burden on people in the process.
Senator Hoey said:
“Earth Day is a day where we show our support for environmental protection. This year, we do so against a back drop of missed carbon emissions targets, Government double-speak on fracked imports, and an unsustainable cost of living.
“Just last month, countries with high GDP were issued with a “final warning” by the IPCC. The Government must play its part in keeping global warming below the 2 degree limit established by the United Nations. This is not a time for paying lip service, it is time for genuine climate action.
“Despite the rhetoric of this Government on climate, it continues to fail in its delivery. Rather than making meaningful change, Minister Eamon Ryan is trying to buy Ireland’s way out of meeting its climate targets.
“Before Easter, the Dáil approved the purchase of 4.1 million carbon credits, at a cost of €2.9 million to the tax payer. Failing to invest in the planet is costing us money. A stitch in time saves nine – the Government must grasp this nettle to help people who are struggling with the cost of living and to protect us all into the future.
“Despite the bluster from a minority of climate change deniers, the public wants a better, safer, cleaner environment. The Government should give effect to that will.
“Amid the bad news is great opportunity. The recent report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss has supplied the Government with a roadmap to protect and restore biodiversity around the country. With input from farmers, turf cutters, fishermen, NGOs, environmental activists, scientists and others, the Citizens’ Assembly, chaired by Dr. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, produced comprehensive and practicable recommendations. It now falls to our Cabinet Ministers to ensure they are implemented on an all-of-Government basis.
“Further opportunity comes from the sizeable Government surplus and projected €600m energy windfall tax receipts. These high revenues do not tally with the lived experiences of people who are struggling to pay the bills. The theme of this year’s Earth Day is ‘invest in our planet, protect our future’. We need to ensure that people see the benefit of these immense revenues, including by state investment in earth-friendly initiatives.
“Labour is calling for the introduction of a monthly, flat rate €9 climate transport ticket to help people make the move to public transport; save on fuel costs; and help Ireland meet our ever-distant emissions targets. Modelled on a similar scheme in Germany, the ticket would entitle people across the country to unlimited travel, across all modes of transport, for just €9 per month.
“If we are serious about achieving our net zero targets, we need carrots, not just sticks. We need to see leadership from the Oireachtas. We estimate that the carbon emissions savings of such a policy would be equivalent to removing 23,000 cars off our roads. It’s time this Government was brave enough to take radical steps towards a cleaner future.
“We cannot afford to miss any more targets. Let’s be ambitious for ourselves and for our planet. Minister Ryan should stop frittering away tax payers’ money frittered away on carbon credits and, instead, invest in our planet to protect our future.”