Inclusive response is key to climate and biodiversity action

Ivana Bacik TD
12 July 2023
  • Sinister tactics of the EPP must be called out
  • Where is the Just Transition Commission?

Responding to the European Parliament vote for the Nature Restoration Law this morning, Labour Leader and Spokesperson for Climate, Ivana Bacik TD, has called for decisive and inclusive action on the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

She has further called on the Taoiseach to condemn his European People’s Party (EPP) colleague, Manfred Weber.

Deputy Bacik said:

“This week, as the focus shifts to other matters in the news, a hugely significant story has gone relatively unmarked. According to the UN, the first week of July was the hottest week on record globally – ever.

“The European Parliament’s pushing back against the boycott of the EPP by adopting its position on the Nature Restoration Law is to be welcomed. I pay tribute to the valiant efforts of the S&D Group who, alongside others, fought to keep the Natural Restoration Law alive.

“In particular, I pay tribute to César Luena MEP, who was the lead negotiator for the S&D group on this law, and Commissioner for the Green New Deal, Frans Timmermans. This law is a critical component of the Green Deal, as well as a means of meeting the EU’s legal obligations on the climate and biodiversity crisis.

“In recent weeks, the EPP – of which Fine Gael is a member – has engaged in a cynical campaign of disinformation, in an attempt to court support of the far-right and climate deniers.

“I welcome that Fine Gael MEPs found their conscience on this vote and chose not to support the EPP’s effort to kill the bill. However, a stronger condemnation of these anti-climate, anti-biodiversity tactics is needed.

“Today, in Leaders’ Questions, I called on the Taoiseach to condemn President of the EPP Manfred Weber, who has led the charge on this disinformation campaign. Unfortunately, he disappointed with his response, merely stating his disagreement with ‘some’ of what Mr. Weber had to say.

“Today’s adoption of the Nature Restoration Law by the European Parliament marks a significant milestone in our quest to fulfil the Green New Deal and the global biodiversity framework.

“Contrary to the claims of the EPP, restoring nature is a cost-effective measure climate change measure. Healthy ecosystems absorb more CO₂, avoiding a need to invest in expensive and speculative technologies. Climate and biodiversity action can improve food security, create new and decent jobs, and protect us from the worst effects of ecological breakdown.

“Undoubtedly, there are those who stand to lose out if climate and biodiversity action is not managed in an inclusive way.

“A ‘Just Transition’, which is investment in, and dialogue with, communities most affected by climate action measures, is crucial. It is extremely worrying to see sinister elements of the political class attempting to exploit the concerns of those communities. However, more must be done to support these vulnerable communities, many of whom are already on the margins of our society.

“That is why I used Labour’s final Leaders’ Question slot before the summer recess to quiz the Taoiseach on when he will set up the long-awaited Just Transition Commission.

“I echo the calls of Friends of the Earth, ICTU, Environmental Pillar, Irish Rural Link, Social Justice Ireland, and others in this regard. In reply, the Taoiseach was noncommittal as to when the Commission would be set up, despite previous assurances by Minister Eamon Ryan that a decision would be taken before the summer. It would appear that concerns about a blockage in the Taoiseach’s Department may be well-founded. There can be no further delay on this. What changes in climate policy have taken place already have occurred in the absence of any structured process of social dialogue. It is simply not good enough.

“Debate on the Nature Restoration Law – and, indeed, the very tight vote to progress it – are indicative of the dangers of a lack of coordination on the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

“A truly just transition will not be just a transition. A former-President Mary Robinson said, it must also be a transformation to tackle inequality and injustice, including that which is caused and exacerbated the climate crisis. I call on the Government to prioritise the Just Transition, by establishing the Commission this summer. Furthermore, I call on the Taoiseach to reflect on his comments in respect of Manfred Weber. He should do more than state his disagreement with Mr. Weber; he should condemn him outright.”

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