25 November 2020
The clarion call to action from the Environmental Protection Agency today has been wholeheartedly welcomed by Ireland’s leading coalition of environmental organisations.
The Environmental Pillar has a longstanding history of advocating for a unified policy response to our ongoing climate and biodiversity crises, and we have witnessed time and time again that existing siloed measures to address them have failed miserably.
To echo the words of EPA Director General Laura Burke, we cannot look at the issues of climate change, biodiversity loss, and air and water quality in isolation. 
Now is the time to change direction and co-ordinate our response under an overarching policy as we build back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Building back better in the wake of this health and economic crisis gives us the chance to have a more resilient and fairer economy for all, and we strongly support the EPA’s call for a recovery conducted through the lens of green investment. 
Additionally, all of these factors are crucial for the upcoming Agri-Food Strategy 2030, which will determine the future health of our environment. The strategy presents the perfect opportunity to implement such a unified policy, and we hope to see it incorporated throughout the document when it is published.
Every one of these efforts must be accelerated and fully implemented, as called for by the EPA, if we are to meet our end-of-decade targets and play our part in addressing the global climate and biodiversity crises.
In the wake of this landmark report, the Pillar is therefore urging the Government to:
- Meaningfully commit to intersectional and overarching environmental policy that addresses climate, biodiversity, water and air quality issues in every sector
- Ensure recovery efforts to rebuild our economy are done through the lens of a just and green recovery
- Fund and staff the National Parks and Wildlife Service so that it can lead on saving nature
Oisin Coghlan, Friends of the Earth and Environmental Pillar spokesperson said:
“To date, national attempts to tackle our climate and biodiversity crises have fallen woefully short. We need a new approach, one that recognises and benefits from the interwoven relationship between our climate, biodiversity, air and water quality.
This interwoven policy must be implemented both fully and immediately, and through the lens of a green and just transition.
We have the means and know-how to do this, and with this forceful call to action from the EPA, it’s time the Government unequivocally commits to doing it.”
Oonagh Duggan, Head of Advocacy for BirdWatch Ireland and Environmental Pillar spokesperson, said:
“The Dáil declared a biodiversity and climate emergency in May 2019 but no emergency plan has been put in place. It’s time for a coherent, coordinated approach to address major problems with our life support system.
Nature in Ireland is disappearing because sectoral policies are exploiting it in an unsustainable way. Transformation is needed in this Decade of Action so that policies are based on planetary boundaries supporting farmers, fishers and foresters who are operating in harmony with nature”.
Theresa O’Donohoe, Feasta – Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability and Environmental Pillar Spokesperson, said:
“The signs are all around us in nature that we are going in the wrong direction and as economic growth returns, the environment suffers. We must decouple our economy from environmental degradation and that includes our agricultural sector.
The national Agri-food strategy, being drafted by a committee dominated by the industry, will add to the environmental destruction. The State of the Environment report recommends that key to addressing our failing water quality is “balancing nutrient emissions from the intensive agriculture sector with the need for better environmental protection.”
Instead of bowing to the profit motivated lobby groups, the government needs to reign in the profits-at-all-cost, agrifood sector and take steps to support low impact, high nature value farming. The sector exploits our farmers, the land, soil, water and air quality.”
Notes: the full 2020 State of the Environment Report can be found at https://bit.ly/39gDCxO  The Environmental Pillar has previously called for a Just Recovery in the lead up to the 2021 budget: https://bit.ly/3nBp54m