Galway TD establishes new climate committee ahead of key fossil fuel bill

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Independent Galway-Roscommon TD and Minister for for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten established a new climate committee last Tuesday.

The move comes ahead of next week’s Dáil debate on a bill to completely divest the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund from fossil fuels.

It also follows a recent report showing that all EU countries are falling behind Paris Agreement goals, with Ireland listed as the second-worst performer in Europe.

Ireland has largely failed to develop its massive offshore wind potential.

Naughten hopes that the new Special Joint Committee on Climate Action will help set the country back on a path towards achieving its Paris Agreement goals.

Part of the committee’s purpose will be to ‘consider’ recommendations set out by a recent Citizens’ Assembly on climate change as well as help the government implement the National Mitigation Plan published last year.

“The Government means to do mean business when it comes to taking strong action on climate change,” the Minister commented.

“Over the next decade we will spend €22 billion on climate-focused investments. That represents a huge leap forward in our approach, both in the scale of our ambition and the funding we are making available as a Government to meet the challenges. In fact, €1 in every €5 to be spent by the State and State companies in capital investment over the next decade will have a climate-related focus. That is not just significant on a European scale but on a global scale.”

He concluded: “The establishment by the joint Houses of this special committee is an important milestone for the Oireachtas. I and my officials look forward to working with the committee on its work programme.”

Chair of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment and Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton (FG) commented:

“The establishment of this committee will give a focus to the climate change issue that it simply cannot get in the midst of a Department’s or a committee’s consideration of other matters. To put it very simply; climate change has not got the attention or action it deserves because the Department, and my committee, must consider a whole range of other subjects within our remit…

“The fact that we are going to miss our 2020 targets by a considerable margin illustrates the point that we have not paid sufficient attention to this issue.”

Naughton added that creating the new climate committee is “a very positive step” in developing “a proper and effective policy on climate change”.

The fossil fuel divestment movement has been gaining popularity, with US organisations and cities like New York declaring plans to divest.