IFA President Tim Cullinan said that the Government and Minister Eamon Ryan’s move to force the Climate Action Bill through the Dáil today is wrong and could have serious repercussions for the implementation of the legislation.
“There are flaws in this Bill which could be ironed out if Minister Ryan was willing to take on board amendments suggested by IFA, or some of the 200 amendments proposed in the Dáil. Instead, the Minister has rejected all amendments and moved to force the Bill through today,” he said.
“I would call on fair-minded TDs, including those in Government parties, to vote against the Bill in its current form to allow for more time to discuss drafting,” he said.
“Yesterday in the Dáil a number of deputies raised concerns about the order of business and the ramming through of this Bill. Yet the Government pushed on to ratify the order of business. They only won that vote by 24 votes to 19, which indicates growing levels of disquiet about the process,” he said.
The IFA leader was speaking at a protest of members of the IFA National Council and the National Environment Committee outside the Convention Centre in Dublin ahead of a Dáil debate on the Climate Action Bill. This protest is under COVID-19 public health guidelines allowing organised outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people.
“IFA supports climate action and this Bill is a very significant piece of legislation that deserves serious debate. It will have ramifications for the future of the entire economy. Rushing it through like this does the Bill a disservice,” he said.
Tim Cullinan said farmers have three main difficulties with the proposed legislation.
- Farms remove carbon from the atmosphere, but this is not recognised in the definition of carbon budgets in the Climate Bill.
- As it is currently drafted, it will also result in ‘carbon leakage’. Less food will be produced in Ireland, with more produced in countries with a higher carbon footprint, which will actually increase global warming.
- The Programme for Government and the Climate Bill refers to taking account of ‘the distinct characteristics’ of biogenic methane in setting climate budgets. Yet there are no specifics in the Bill as to how this will be practically applied. Neither is there any proposal for a separate biogenic methane target.
“Over the last few days, we have received lots of promises from the three Government parties about how the Bill will be interpreted and implemented, but we cannot rely on promises that are not spelled out in the Bill,” he said
“Our legal advice is that the Bill would benefit significantly from greater clarity,” he said.
“This Bill is likely to be challenged and relying on implicit meanings and future promises will not cut it in the courts,” he said.