Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action & Environment Timmy Dooley TD has slammed the government for failing to implement a range of climate and environmental policies, and is seeking a renewed focus from TDs in tackling climate change and environmental issues when the Dáil resumes in September.
Deputy Dooley’s comments come following the publication of the CSO’s annual Environmental Indicators Ireland report which shows that Ireland remains a laggard in Europe across several environmental indicators.
Ireland has the third highest emissions per capita in the EU and some of the highest levels of harmful pollutants, mainly from transport and agriculture.
Deputy Dooley explained, “The primary responsibility of government is to safeguard its citizens. The CSO report confirms the Fine Gael government’s categoric failure to tackle emissions, which are driving the climate crisis and air pollution, which is damaging public health.
“Fine Gael Ministers may like to play up Ireland’s green credentials and claim to be leading on sustainability at EU and UN level. However, the reality, as shown by the CSO, is that we are completely out of line with our European counterparts and this has been the case for years.
“The CSO report indicates that Ireland is the worst country in the EU for air pollution from exhaust fumes, that the number of homes with the poorest possible energy ratings has increased, and that forest coverage is the second lowest in the EU. It also states that Ireland has one of the lowest levels in Europe for protection of wilderness areas and the second lowest proportion of organically farmed land.
“This information makes a mockery of Fine Gael assertions that climate and the environment are a priority. It amounts to a complete and ongoing policy failure. The bottom line is that Fine Gael’s approach of business-as-usual with a few tweaks is not enough to tackle the climate crisis and environmental destruction.
“Government must lead and not put the responsibility on citizens. It must put people’s health and well-being front and centre. This means fully implementing the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, particularly a finance package to support home retrofits nationwide and increased investment in zero emission public transport.
“It also means introducing a national ban on smoky coal and providing local authorities with the necessary equipment to monitor air quality,” concluded Deputy Dooley.