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 Header Item Air Services Agreements: Referral to Select Committee
 Header Item Establishment of Special Joint Committee on Climate Action: Motion

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 1

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Air Services Agreements: Referral to Select Committee

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I move:

That the proposal that Dáil Éireann approves under Article 29.5.2 of the Constitution the terms of:

(i) the Air Services Agreement between the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Government of Ireland; and

(ii) the Agreement between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Arab Emirates for Air Services Between and Beyond their Respective Territories; copies of both agreements were laid before Dáil Éireann on 27th June, 2018, be referred to the Select Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, in accordance with Standing Order 84A(3)(b), which, not later than 12th July, 2018, shall send a message to the Dáil in the manner prescribed in Standing Order 90, and Standing Order 89(2) shall accordingly apply.

  Question put and agreed to.

Establishment of Special Joint Committee on Climate Action: Motion

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders–

(a) a Special Committee (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Committee’) is hereby appointed, to be joined with a Special Committee to be appointed by Seanad Éireann, to form the Joint Committee on Climate Action to–
(i) consider the Third Report and Recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly entitled ‘How the State can make Ireland a Leader in tackling Climate Change’;

(ii) consider how these Recommendations might inform the further implementation of Ireland’s National Mitigation Plan as well as the development of Ireland’s draft Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan in the context of the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union (COM 2016/759), taking into account the recently published National Development Plan;

(iii) generally assess the state of play in relation to the Sectoral Adaptation Plans (SAPs) of relevant Government Departments as required under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015 and as set out under the National Adaptation Framework (NAF) and, in this context, to engage with the Secretaries General of these relevant Government Departments in relation to proposed adaptation measures to be included in such plans taking into account the recently published National Development Plan;

(iv) engage with the Secretaries General of relevant Government Departments to determine whether they have also set out sectoral mitigation measures which could inform further implementation of the National Mitigation Plan and the preparation of Ireland’s draft Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan taking into account the recently published National Development Plan; and

(v) consider such other related matters and engage with such other relevant stakeholders as the Committee sees fit;

and to report to both Houses of the Oireachtas in accordance with paragraph (g);
(b) the Committee shall not exceed sixteen members of Dáil Éireann as follows:
(i) five members appointed by the Government;

(ii) four members appointed by Fianna Fáil;

(iii) two members appointed by Sinn Féin; and

(iv) one member each appointed by the Labour Party, the Solidarity–People Before Profit (Sol–PBP), Independents 4 Change, the Rural Independent Group, and the Social Democrats–Green Party Group;
(c) the Ceann Comhairle shall announce the names of the members appointed under paragraph (b) for the information of the Dáil on the first sitting day following their appointment;

(d) the quorum of the Joint Committee shall be eight, at least one of whom shall be a member of the Dáil, and one a member of the Seanad;

(e) the Joint Committee shall elect one of its members to be Chairman;

(f) the Joint Committee shall have the powers defined in Standing Order 85(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (7), (8) and (9); and

(g) the Joint Committee shall report its conclusions and recommendations to both Houses of the Oireachtas not later than 31st January, 2019.

I wish to share one minute of my time with Deputy Hildegarde Naughton, the Chairman of the committee. The Ceann Comhairle might indicate when there is one minute remaining.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten The Citizens' Assembly published its final report on how the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change, on 18 April 2018. The report builds on the conclusions of the Citizens' Assembly following two weekends of deliberation on the energy, transport and agriculture sectors, international best practice and existing national policies and activities. A total of 17 recommendations are detailed in the report. This is comprised of 13 recommendations reached by majority vote from the Citizens' Assembly ballot paper voting and four ancillary recommendations compiled from further submissions made by members via a member reflective exercise response facility for the assembly. The terms of reference of the special committee take into account the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly and the committee will play an important role in informing the preparation of Ireland's draft national energy and climate plan, which the Department is currently preparing. The terms of reference also include the national development plan. The Government means to do mean business when it comes to taking strong action on climate change. I was very pleased recently to launch the climate action priority of Project Ireland 2040 with An Taoiseach and a number of my Cabinet colleagues. 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.

We also expect to invest €4,000 million in energy efficiency upgrades of buildings and within the next 200 months, dirty fossil fuels will be taken out of our heating systems, including homes. That will be an achievement of global significance given the fact that 37% of homes are in rural areas. We will have dirty fossil fuels taken out of electricity generation by 2030. Over the next decade our ambition is to increase production of electricity from renewable sources to 55% by 2030, which would be a phenomenal feat, in light of the fact that we have such an isolated electricity grid.

In terms of regulatory measures, the national development plan commits the Government to no new non-zero emission cars to be sold in Ireland post 2030. In effect, there will be a ban on tailpipes on new cars from 2030. We will become the first EU country to do so. It is intended that no NCT certificate will be issued for non-zero emission cars post-2045. That is one of the most ambitious commitments on zero emissions on passenger cars in the entire EU. There will also be a transition to a low emission urban bus fleet, including electric buses, with no diesel-only buses purchased from 1 July 2019. The low-carbon, climate resilient transition ahead will require a societal transformation.

The Citizens' Assembly demonstrates that individual citizens can produce very clear recommendations when provided with an opportunity to reflect and consider in detail a specific societal change. It also underlines for me that Ireland will not achieve its climate objectives through Government action alone and engagement with wider society on an ongoing basis will be vital. Last Saturday week, I hosted the first regional gathering under the national dialogue on climate action to involve individual citizens and communities in the process of shaping Ireland's low-carbon transition. These meetings are the first step of engagement with communities across the country. 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.

Deputy Hildegarde Naughton: Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton I thank the Minister for allowing me a moment of his speaking time. As the Chair of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, I wish to put on the record of this House how important I view the establishment of this special committee. As one who served on the Special Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, I can attest to the value of such a move. 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. Important matters such as public service broadcasting, the media landscape in general, broadband and a myriad of other issues take up time that we could otherwise devote to climate action. 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.

My statement today is not to criticise the Minister, his Department or my committee, rather the contrary, we need to put substantial resources into developing a proper and effective policy on climate change. It is my view that the establishment of this committee to consider the report of the Citizens' Assembly and ancillary matters is a very positive step in developing such a policy in the short term. Having recently spoken to the Taoiseach on the issue I can assure the House of his and Fine Gael's complete support in the work this committee will do.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Like others, Fianna Fáil wholeheartedly supports the establishment of a special Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action. We welcome the recent establishment of the Citizens' Assembly on climate change. Without a shadow of a doubt, climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity on a global scale and it is vital that Ireland plays a strong role in addressing it.

This Government and its predecessor have dismal records on climate change and that is reflected in the fact that Ireland will miss all of its 2020 targets. I appeal to the Minister in the first instance to accept where we are at and stop this continuous bluff and bluster about what is going to happen in 2030, 2045 and 2050. There are a couple of harsh realities he must face. He referred to the diesel bus fleet from now on. Just last year, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, ordered 110 new dirty diesel buses at a time when everybody was talking about our inability to meet the 2020 targets. The Minister, Deputy Naughten, knows better than any how the electoral cycle works and he knows scant regard is paid to what happens in 2030, 2040 or 2050. He must be able to convince his colleagues in government that we have a crisis. The responsibility does not all lie at the door of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, nor should it. The Minister does not have to defend the indefensible, nor should he. If he takes a lead role at the Cabinet table he will have my support and that of the Fianna Fáil Party. The Minister must bang the table and demand that there is an acceptance that we are laggards rather than come in here and tell us what he is hoping to achieve in terms of being a world leader in electric vehicles by 2045 when we have failed abysmally with the targets we have set. We are way behind and that is appalling.

The Minister made an official announcement yesterday about passenger vehicles on toll plazas receiving a cut of approximately 50%, for most cars except for hybrid vehicles. The reality is that people who have had hybrid vehicles and have moved to electric vehicles now want to move back because the network of charging units is not adequate to support their continued driving of electric vehicles. There is so much more to be done. Rather than saying what we will do in 2045 the Minister should set a target for the next two to three years that falls within the cycle of this or perhaps the next Government rather than talking too far ahead and being absolved from all responsibility. The Minister knows better than I that we are required to reduce our carbon emissions by 20% relative to 2005 levels. We are on track for a 1% reduction, which will give rise to an estimated fine of approximately €600 million. From 2020, on the renewable energy side we are required to source 16% of our energy requirements from renewable sources. We currently source approximately 9.1% of our energy requirements from renewable sources. The estimated fine in that regard depending on the cost of the credits will be somewhere between €115 million and €600 million.

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