Fianna Fáil Press Office
Cllr Jim O’Callaghan
Dublin Bay South

01 December 2015

Possible Win-Win Opportunities for Ireland in Meeting Climate Change Targets – FF

Speaking last night on the opening of the Paris Climate Change talks, Fianna Fáil frontbench legal adviser and General Election candidate, Cllr Jim O’Callaghan urged negotiators to agree legally binding emission targets and said that there are huge win-win opportunities for Ireland from meeting our climate change targets.

Cllr O’Callaghan commented, “The COP21 (Climate Change Conference) in Paris this week presents huge opportunities as well as challenges for Ireland.

“It is essential that as a country, we get a fair deal in negotiations over the technical details associated with Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction targets and their measurement.

“In particular, the high sequestration potential of Ireland’s unique grass-based agriculture – as well as the high potential of our forests, boglands and other habitats that absorb carbon – should be accounted for in the calculation of emissions.

“Only recently the European Council recognised that the absence of land use, land use change and forestry was a major gap in EU policy response to climate change. It is essential that negotiators at COP21 also recognise the major contribution of such sequestration resources in curbing emissions levels.

“There are also huge opportunities for Ireland to achieve win-win outcomes in meeting our reduction targets. For example, only 11 % of our land is forested compared to 33% across the EU and afforestation has a high potential for helping us meet our emission targets. Even the forests planted only since 1990 absorb a massive 18% of Irish agriculture’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, economic returns from forestry are strongly competitive compared other land uses and could pay a high dividend in terms regional development and employment.

“It is unfortunate that this government have been such laggards in introducing innovative schemes to achieve our carbon and green house reduction targets

Their policies lack strategic vision and have fundamentally failed to progress the decarbonisation of the Irish economy since coming to office. Their long-delayed Climate Action Bill suffers from a major deficit of ambition and cannot be the last word on tackling Climate Change.

“By contrast, Fianna Fáil has a strong record on introducing progressive measures to reduce emissions and has committed to an ambitious environmental programme to tackle climate change.