Late and underhanded amendments a gigantic betrayal of climate movement
People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith has said that the amendments tabled by the Government to the Climate Bill were, “a slap in the face for the climate movement and copper fastened the certainty that the Bill would fail to produce actual emission cuts in Ireland’s agriculture sector.”
Two amendments to the Bill were accepted by Minister Ryan late on Friday in the Seanad, both had originated with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Senators.
The amendments mean that a Minister may calculate “removals” of Greenhouse Gases when deciding on a budget or sectoral emission ceiling. Ministers may change the base year that calculations are based on in the future and the methods of calculating and accounting for removals will be worked out in future regulation that only have to have regard to current EU rules.
Accurate accounting of carbon sinks and removals is notoriously difficult and has been prone to miscalculation for decades resulting in serious doubts among campaigners on the use of such trading schemes for tackling climate crisis.
Bríd Smith TD said: “The Minister rejected over 200 amendments from progressive TDs in the Dáil and refused point blank to listen to pleas on the issues of climate justice or just transition. Every attempt by TDs to address the weaknesses in the language or the various get out clauses were turned down, yet now because of pressure from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and big business interests in the agriculture sector he has inserted two amendments that at a stroke will destroy any hopes of real changes in the agriculture.
“This is not a recognition of the role of small farmers, it is a sop to big Agri food interests and a signal that business as usual can continue.
“The Minister’s statement that this will lead to an emissions trading scheme within agriculture and that a way will be found to calculate removals from land and forestry is the death knell for any hopes this Bill may have curbed growth in dairy numbers.
“It will be a disaster for small farmers and for sustainable agriculture. This move, for all the rhetoric involved, will mean what all such schemes have meant to date- accountancy trickery and large vested interests doing well and continuing with business as usual.”
The TD has tabled her own amendments to the Minister’s amendments. The Bill will be debated in the Dáil on Wednesday.