For Immediate Release
The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of over 30 national environmental groups, welcomes the prioritisation of the Green New Deal, together with action on climate and biodiversity in the Framework for Government document published by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on 14 April 2020.
A just and fair recovery, which puts communities, nature and climate at the forefront, must be the priority for the new Government. This should also include the following 5 key actions, which set out how we can rebuild and restore our economy, while ensuring a sustainable future:
1. Ireland’s Circular Economy Action Plan needs to go beyond the concept of effective waste management to support a holistic shift in the economy that promotes sustainable production and consumption and provides the basis for a robust and resilient Irish economy for the future. This includes prioritising activity in key sectors such as local industry and agriculture.
Environmental Pillar Steering Committee member Mindy O’Brien stated, “The time is now for Ireland to set out its stall for establishing new ways of working, which prioritises reduction, reuse and recycling at the forefront while also supporting local communities and employment schemes, which will be crying out for investment and opportunities in the months and years that follow the pandemic.”
2. Protect our water & marine biodiversity: The next Government must stand up for marine biodiversity and coastal communities and commit to ending over-fishing and fully implementing the Common Fisheries Policy, while also greatly expanding our network of Marine Protected Areas to protect our rich, vibrant marine ecosystems. Water pollution must be a thing of the past by fully implementing key European Directives which protect our freshwater sources from pollution and invasive species, ensuring good water quality and healthy rivers, lakes and groundwater.
3. Sustainable Farms & Forests: The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated just how critical our food security is and how fragile our export-driven model is to external shocks. We must ensure that, as a small island, we are able to feed ourselves and that our primary producers are rewarded for enhancing biodiversity and protecting water quality in line with our climate and sustainable development commitments. Affordable, locally produced food must be at the heart of future plans and agri-food strategies. We also need a new vision for forestry to balance timber production with social, ecological and climate services.
Environmental Pillar Steering Committee member Andrew St. Ledger added, “The current outdated tree farm timber production model is not working. The starting point is an independent review and reform of Coillte toward s a sustainable forestry sector. Further, agroforestry on farms which is focused on native trees for biodiversity, ecological and climate services with fruit and nut trees for food security needs to be rapidly expanded and supported. Finally, we need a catchment-based approach involving a multi stakeholder forum, with sensitivity mapping to identify where we can put the right tree in the right place and protect existing valuable habitats.”
4. Protect Access to Justice: Before the dissolution of the last Dáil, the outgoing Government introduced the Heads of a new Bill that would have fundamentally altered the entire system of access to justice for a whole range of environmental decisions in Ireland. Such legislation would have severely curtailed access to justice rights and made it much harder for ordinary people, local groups and national environmental NGOs, to bring legal challenges to poor planning decision-making that would impact the environment.
The next Government must ensure that similar pieces of legislation are strongly opposed and that the vitally important principles of wide access to justice rights are fully respected in line with our European and international obligations.
5. Deliver on climate action: Any programme for Government must ‘unite behind the science’ and commit to reducing climate polluting emissions by 8% year on year to ensure Ireland complies with its commitments under the Paris Agreement and prevents runaway climate change.
For further information, see the Environmental Pillar’s 10-point blueprint for nature here: https://tinyurl.com/t5amxby
Coordinator, Environmental Pillar
Tel: 086 836 6124