It’s vital that citizens voice their concerns to MEP candidates over climate change and biodiversity loss in advance of the European elections, Ireland’s leading environmental coalition has said.
The need is even more pressing, the Environmental Pillar said, following the release of a new report today calling out Ireland’s largest parties for their “shocking apathy” towards EU climate action. 
“The findings confirm the alarmingly isolationist position of Irish politicians when it comes to climate action in comparison to other Western European countries,” the Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe report states. 
With this information in hand, Irish citizens should be better equipped to vote for candidates that support climate action, with the Parliament set will play an instrumental role in major decisions on a raft of green topics.
To further aid citizens in their decision-making, the Pillar is hosting three climate hustings across the country over the coming weeks for candidates to set out their commitments to potential voters. 
The public debates will take place in Carrick on Shannon on 26 April, Dublin on 3 May and Cork on 10 May at which over 300 ticket holders will be able to gauge where candidates stand on key environmental and climate issues.
The events will also provide an opportunity for the candidates to set out their commitments and assurances with regard to protecting Ireland’s fragile environment.
Candidates confirmed to attend so far include six sitting MEPs and a range of candidates from all the main political parties and independents.   
Citizens will have the opportunity to directly signal to MEP candidates the ambition that they want to see at a European level, with climate change is set to be a hot topic as Europe needs a radical policy shift to cut emissions by 2050 to avert the worst climate impacts.
Biodiversity decline is also high on the agenda, with over 90 per cent of habitats in Ireland under pressure. Last year, international experts warned that two-thirds of European habitats now have
Candidates will be questioned on a range of issues and their responses will assist voters with environmental concerns in making their electoral choices when Irish voters head to the polls to elect the MEPs who will represent them for the next five years.
In total, 59 candidates have put their names forward for election across the three Irish constituencies including Former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, ex-communications minister Alex White and presidential runner-up Peter Casey.
Details for all three hustings are available here: http://tinyurl.com/y2uunejr
Environmental Pillar coordinator Michael Ewing said:
“We need a fundamental rethink of the kind of Europe we want to really bridge the gap between the EU and what its young citizens want in terms of environmental and biodiversity protection.
“This public debate will be an opportunity for MEP candidates and experts to hear the views of many Irish young citizens on the frontline of climate activism on the kind of Europe they want that leads on climate action and biodiversity protection.
Our younger generations are crying out for a vision for the future of Europe that puts climate action, biodiversity protection and environmental justice at the core of the bloc’s policies.
“I would hope that that the speakers’ words make the candidates think long and hard about the kind of elected officials they want to put Ireland at the forefront of progressive climate policy in Europe.
 The report assesses the voting behaviour of MEPs on climate and energy issues, revealing which political parties have acted to protect Europeans against climate change. Sinn Féin is the best performer from Ireland, yet does not even score half the possible points available on the report’s ranking scale. The party still has more than twice as many points as Fine Gael and is well above Fianna Fail in the ranking. Fianna Fail’s ranking is zero as the party’s only MEP Brian Crowley failed to vote in the current Parliament session due to health reasons.
 CAN Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change with over 150 member organisations from 35 European countries. Report: http://tinyurl.com/y2uqe3lh
 Details on all three events are available here: http://tinyurl.com/y2uunejr
 Confirmed candidates for Carrick-On-Shannon: MEP Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael, MEP Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein, MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Independent, Saoirse McHugh, Green Party, and Cyril Brennan, People Before Profit
 Confirmed Dublin candidates include MEP Lynn Boylan, Sinn Fein, Councillor Ciaran Cuffe, Green Party, Councillor Éilis Ryan, Workers’ Party, Councillor Gary Gannon, Social Democrats, Alex White, Labour Party, Barry Andrews, Fianna Fáil, Gillian Brien, People Before Profit, and Senator Alice-Mary Higgins
 Confirmed candidates for Cork: MEP Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael, MEP Liadh Ní Riada, Sinn Fein Senator Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party, Councillor Malcolm Byrne, Fianna Fáil and Adrienne Wallace, People Before Profit.