The report and recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly on how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change has been sent to the Houses of the Oireachtas.
A further four ancillary recommendations, which came from the assembly, were published today for the first time.
These include a public information campaign on the benefits of tackling climate change, steps to reduce plastic packaging, support for the agriculture sector to transition to production which emits lower green house gases, and that all new buildings should have a zero or low carbon footprint as part of the granting of a planning permission.
The recommendations were reached by majority vote of the assembly members following two weekends of deliberation which focused on a broad range of issues, including the science of climate change, current efforts to tackle it in Ireland and internationally, energy generation and efficiency, transport policy in Ireland, current agriculture and land use policy and the climate change advisory council.
The Assembly made the following 13 recommendations by a majority vote:
- 98% of the Members recommended that to ensure climate change is at the centre of policy-making in Ireland, as a matter of urgency a new or existing independent body should be resourced appropriately, operate in an open and transparent manner, and be given a broad range of new functions and powers in legislation to urgently address climate change. *
- 100% of the Members recommended that the State should take a leadership role in addressing climate change through mitigation measures, including, for example, retrofitting public buildings, having low carbon public vehicles, renewable generation on public buildings and through adaptation measures including, for example, increasing the resilience of public land and infrastructure.
- 80% of the Members said they would be willing to pay higher taxes on carbon intensive activities.
- 96% of the Members recommended that the State should undertake a comprehensive assessment of the vulnerability of all critical infrastructure (including energy, transport, built environment, water and communications) with a view to building resilience to ongoing climate change and extreme weather events. The outcome of this assessment should be implemented. Recognising the significant costs that the State would bear in the event of failure of critical infrastructure, spending on infrastructure should be prioritised to take account of this.
- 99% of the Members recommended that the State should enable, through legislation, the selling back into the grid of electricity from micro-generation by private citizens (for example energy from solar panels or wind turbines on people's homes or land) at a price which is at least equivalent to the wholesale price.
- 100% of the Members recommended that the State should act to ensure the greatest possible levels of community ownership in all future renewable energy projects by encouraging communities to develop their own projects and by requiring that developer-led projects make share offers to communities to encourage greater local involvement and ownership.
- 97% of the Members recommended that the State should end all subsidies for peat extraction and instead spend that money on peat bog restoration and making proper provision for the protection of the rights of the workers impacted with the majority 61% recommending that the State should end all subsidies on a phased basis over 5 years.
- 93% of the Members recommended that the number of bus lanes, cycling lanes and park and ride facilities should be greatly increased in the next five years, and much greater priority should be given to these modes over private car use.
- 96% of the Members recommended that the State should immediately take many steps to support the transition to electric vehicles. ***
- 92% of the Members recommended that the State should prioritise the expansion of public transport spending over new road infrastructure spending at a ratio of no less than 2-to-1 to facilitate the broader availability and uptake of public transport options with attention to rural areas.
- 89% of the Members recommended that there should be a tax on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture. There should be rewards for the farmer for land management that sequesters carbon. Any resulting revenue should be reinvested to support climate friendly agricultural practices.
- 93% of the Members recommended the State should introduce a standard form of mandatory measurement and reporting of food waste at every level of the food distribution and supply chain, with the objective of reducing food waste in the future.
- 99 % of the Members recommended that the State should review, and revise supports for land use diversification with attention to supports for planting forests and encouraging organic farming.