Senator Alice Mary Higgins says rights and solidarity must be ‘priority’ in next chapter for EU. Encourages people across Ireland to participate in crucial public consultation on Europe’s future

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins is one of four Oireachtas delegates to the Conference on the Future of Europe, an eight month process that hopes to shape the next chapter for the EU. Speaking at a plenary of the Conference last Saturday, Senator Higgins highlighted:

“On so many issues like equality and environment, people have been speaking up for some time and institutions have been slow to hear. Too often civil society voices have felt drowned out by corporate lobbies.”

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins speaking at the conclusion of the Climate Bill Debate

As the stark facts of the IPCC report are underscored by fires and floods across the world. I’m sharing my thoughts on the Climate Bill and how Ireland must and can do better on Climate Action. Immediate actions should include a moratorium on data centres, exit from Energy Charter Treaty, a ban on LNG terminals and leadership re global ban on fracking and #2050istoolate.

Ireland is starting late on climate action and it should be starting stronger. Here are some important challenges, gaps and concerns which will need further attention and action in the months ahead.

Limitation of liability: This problematic clause limits compensation for citizens hurt by climate inaction at the same time as the Government want to introduce new liabilities/compensation for corporations under the Investor Court System/CETA with chill effect. It's more important than ever to stop the ratification of CETA.

Climate Justice: I am glad that the Government removed a weak and damaging definition of climate justice but am disappointed they did not replace it with the strong one as proposed by NGOs and Senators. Government must now prove sincerity on this through concrete global solidarity action for example at COP26 and through funding.

Just Transition: "There are also people involved in just transition who have been ahead of us." A strong Just Transition definition is not included in the legislation. The Government will need to place communities, trade unions and others at centre of Just Transition for a ground up approach to climate action.

SDGs: Ireland played key role in negotiating the UN Sustainable Development Goals yet the Government rejected any amendments to include them in Climate Bill. The SDGs are not aspirational or optional they must be recognised as crucial blueprint for how we survive together on this fragile planet. 

Market forces: "If we try to fit climate action into stock market model, we will fail and the world will burn". The Minister's economic framing doesn’t recognise that, as with housing, speculation is a problem not a solution and we can’t afford that. 

2030 Target:”51% should be the floor not the ceiling”. Unfortunately the Government rejected my amendment to insert ‘at least’ before ‘51%’ which would have given the Climate Change Advisory Council flexibility to propose more ambitious budgets. Many scientists also have concerns regarding how the 51% target may be calculated.

Oil and Gas: The Climate Bill still allows the Minister to grant NEW licenses and leases for fossil fuel extraction, for example where there has been previous exploration licence. This actively undermines the aim of Bill and may be motivated by fear of litigation through the Energy Charter Treaty. Ireland needs to stop digging!

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins calls for “green networks of cycle and pedestrian lanes and new ambition for rural public transport” at launch of new Committee report on Transport and Climate Action

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action launched its Report on Reducing Emissions in the Transport Sector last Wednesday 3rd June. It is the first in a series of sectoral analyses on how Ireland will meet its target of a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030. 

Ireland has the fourth highest level of transport emissions per capita in Europe and the transport sector is responsible for around 20% of our overall CO₂ emissions, with private cars being the largest contributors to transport emissions.

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins urges Government to “Step up the Speed and Ambition on Climate Action”

JOC on Climate publishes report with 78 recommendations to improve Climate Bill. 

 After eight weeks of intense pre-legislative scrutiny, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action’s today published its official report on the ‘Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2020’ including 78 “significant recommendations on how the Bill should be strengthened.

 

A strong voice for Climate for Seanad 2020

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins has been an activist on climate change for over a decade and a consistent voice calling for action in the Seanad and as a member of the Oireachtas Climate Action committee.

She has been a leading voice calling for protection of hedgerows and peatlands, for investment in cycling and sustainable transport, for marine protections, for accountability for corporations, for fossil fuel divestment, for commitment to multilateral targets and processes and for a just transition.