Fine Gael’s attempt to piggy-back on Heritage Week to burnish their environmental credentials is a clear attempt to paper over gaping holes in their environment and climate policy says a coalition of Ireland’s leading environmental NGOs.
To mark the kick-off of his party’s Green Week, the Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD popped up on social media this morning to tell the world of his party’s environmental achievements.
According to the Environmental Pillar, however, the Tánaiste clearly has a very selective memory when it comes to his Party’s record on environmental and climate protection.
It is surprising that the governing party chose this week to launch its Green Week, as the party’s own Heritage Bill, pushed through the Oireachtas before the summer recess, will negatively impact breeding birds and other wildlife in our hedgerows and uplands.
Below, we further debunk the policy achievements outlined by Mr Coveney in the party’s video and shed light on the real policy objectives overshadowing the green credentials the Government is trying to bestow upon itself.
‘€1 in every €5 spent under National Development Plan will go towards tackling climate change’
The NDP does not allocate enough spending on public transport and cycling, with an overwhelming focus of investment outside Dublin on unsustainable road investment including reactivation of the A5 cross-border proposal and three significant road projects – Cork Limerick Motorway; Galway Ring Road; and extra lanes on the M7 from Naas to Newbridge.
Decades of bad planning have left a legacy of car-based dispersed sprawl, with climate, air pollution, congestion and other adverse social, economic and environmental impacts.
There are no public transport investment proposals of any significance outside Dublin in the plan, with bus investment measures proposed for counties Cork and Galway only.
In addition, 320 million is set aside in the NDP for the building of an additional Dublin Airport runway which does not address the increased impact of aviation emissions.
‘From September, Ireland will be the first country in Europe to introduce a ban on smoky coal’
While this is a positive step in terms of protecting our rural communities from poor air quality, the State has little to say for rural Colombian communities impacted by over 11 million tonnes of coal imported since 2011 for Moneypoint power plant run by the semi-state, ESB.
While plans are in place to stop burning coal at Moneypoint by 2025 and peat at Bord na Mona and ESB peat-powered stations by 2030, they will likely be replaced by unsustainable biomass for the foreseeable future, that, much like coal, is destroying biodiversity in lands far away from the Irish public’s attention.
A ban on microbeads is only a small step in protecting the marine environment as they only account for a tiny fraction of microplastics in the marine environment.
Bigger threats to our seas are overfishing, plastic pollution from fishing nets and drinks containers, and oil and gas exploration.
Yet, the Minister of State for Natural Resources’ Seán Kyne TD recently outlined state support for an increase in oil and gas drilling in Irish waters to deliver energy security and act as a “very significant economic driver.
- A Green Party motion calling on the government to publish an Oceans Bill to meet its European and International obligations and protect 50 per cent our coasts and seas through marine protection. Currently, just over two per cent of Irish waters are protected, the second lowest percentage in Europe.
- People Before Profit’s Climate Emergency Bill to stop the government from issuing any new licences for the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels in the State
- The Green Party’s Waste Reduction Bill that aims to increase recycling rates, cut littering of beverage containers, save money on clean-ups and create new green jobs in Ireland
- Calls from conservation organisations to reduce fishing quotas that the Government continually lobbied to be set above levels recommended by scientists