Environmental groups demand public inquiry into banks

The Environmental Pillar of social partnership has welcomed the Government’s statement indicating its willingness to establish a public inquiry into the circumstances that led to the banking crisis.

“In the light of the huge damage done by the behaviour of the banking sector to the environmental, social and economic health of this country the government must immediately instigate a public and transparent inquiry into the near total collapse of the Irish banking system.” said Michael Ewing, spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar. “However, the massive bailout and economic recession must not be used to justify yet more delays in taking real action against climate change – in physical, moral and economic terms a far more serious threat to us all than a temporary cooling of the economy.”

Recent studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have suggested that the cost of transitioning the global economy to a new lower-carbon footing, thus significantly reducing the risks of damage from climate change, is in the order of 1% of global product per year over the next generation. For Ireland this means building new cleaner and more efficient electricity production, massive improvements in public transport quality and availability, developing energy-efficient buildings and communities, protecting woodlands and other carbon absorbing natural resources, major investment in native tree planting, promoting environmentally friendly agriculture, dramatically reducing drinking water wastage, and reducing poverty around the world. Investment in these areas will generate direct economic activity, stimulate demand for goods and services, and support innovative new products and businesses.

The Environmental Pillar is demanding that the government establish the inquiry into the banking collapse immediately, and give it a very clear mandate and reporting time so that the building of a truly sustainable country can get under way without the enormous uncertainty that surrounds Ireland’s banking system following implementation of recommendations of that inquiry.