Environmentalists tell Government 'there's no going back to business as usual'

New Social Partner launched at Government Buildings
[imagebrowser id=2]At the official launch of the new Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership at Government buildings today environmental representatives called on the government not to lose sight of the the ecological crisis underlying the country’s current economic difficulties.
Speaking after a photocall with Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister for the Environment John Gormley, Karin Dubsky of Coastwatch said “environmental groups recognize that it is our shared responsibility to balance our environmental health, socio-economic, and future needs. We have practical solutions and look forward to working with the other social partners that have promoted the country’s socio-economic development so well over the last 20 years.”
“The combination of poorly understood risk and weak regulation that caused the economic crash will cause an even greater ecological crash unless we act urgently to prevent it. Any plan for national recovery must be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.”
Oisin Coghlan of Friends of the Earth said “there can be no going back to the business-as-usual economic model based on ever increasing levels of consumption and pollution, fuelled by unsustainable levels of financial and ecological debt. Infinite growth is not possible is not possible on a finite planet”
“Siobhan Egan of Birdwatch Ireland said “it’s a challenging time to be joining Social Partnership but we’re confident that our fresh eyes and fresh ideas can help tackles our immediate economic problems in a way that addresses rather than exacerbates the even greater environmental challenges that lie ahead. We need to redesign our economy for the 21st century, not just re-boot it for another cycle of boom and bust.”
“The Environmental Pillar will work with the other Social Partners to incorporate the three essential and interrelated strands of sustainable development into all aspects of the workings of Social Partnership. Until now, Social Partnership has focused on the socio-economic interests of the present generation and has largely neglected the need for a healthy environment and for providing a healthy and stable planet for future generations.
“A healthy economic future needs a healthy natural environment infrastructure. This is something on which we all depend. Bringing the environment into policy development at a national level will help to address some of our most serious environmental, economic and social issues such as climate change, the loss of public benefits provided by our terrestrial and marine environments, and a declining quality of life.”
Charles Stanley-Smith, Chairperson of An Taisce said “We support a ‘New Green Deal’ within the Government’s ‘Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal’, with the emphasis on the development of Green Technology. We also have plans for a very ambitious ‘warmer homes’ scheme to combat fuel poverty, unemployment and carbon emissions through supporting and incentivising the retro-fitting of insulation to 1 million homes, and at very little cost to the government or the home owner”
The new Environmental Pillar is made up of environmental groups who operate at a national level. They range from large established organisations such as BirdWatch Ireland and An Taisce, to smaller but influential groups such as Feasta, the Foundation for Economics of Sustainability. The pillar’s main areas of interest include climate change, biodiversity, planning, water, waste, transport and the socio-economics of a sustainable future.
The Environmental Pillar representatives are Oisín Coghlan (Friends of the Earth), Karin Dubsky (Coastwatch). Siobhán Egan (Birdwatch Ireland), Charles Stanley-Smith (An Taisce). Michael Ewing coordinates the Pillar’s activities.
The Environmental Pillar website is www.environmentalpillar.ie
For more information and interviews contact:
Michael Ewing (Social Partnership Co-ordinator) – 086 876 2153, 071 966 7373
Danny Walsh (Communications Officer) – 086 812 7139