The NFLA All Ireland Sustainable Energy Forum, which was recently relaunched in its new guise last month, (1) welcomes the clear thinking and dynamic declaration that was made by a special ‘Youth Assembly on Climate’ held in the Dail recently.
The politics of Ireland has been transformed in recent months by the acknowledgement of the ‘climate emergency’ and it has been the activism of dedicated young people that has been a core part of this. Our Forum agrees with them that Ireland has been ‘sleepwalking’ on the impacts of climate change and the need for an urgent ramping up of renewable energy.
The 150 young people, selected from across Ireland discussed how government should tackle the climate crisis as part of the country’s first Youth Assembly on climate change. The delegates were aged between 10 and 17 and met in the Dáil to discuss the environment, economics, food, energy and education policy in Ireland.
Their 10 point declaration included:
- From the corner store to the supermarket, the Youth Assembly calls on the Dáil to incentivise and obligate the installation of glass doors on open refrigerators.
- Ireland should ban the importation of fracked gas and invest solely in renewables.
- The Government should implement measures that will allow Irish goods to be both eco-sustainable and affordable in today’s Irish market.
- The Government should implement a tiered ‘Tax on Emissions’ from large companies including those under capital ETS. This tax must be increased every year while threshold decreases, shifting the burden from individuals to corporations.
- Central and local investment in industrial hemp facilities is required to provide a viable, sustainable and alternative land use for farmers as well as employment in rural Ireland.
- A labelling and pricing system showing the climate impact of food products based on criteria such as impact of packaging and distance travelled should be introduced.
- Ireland needs to outlaw acts of ‘ecocide’ – being the widespread and systematic loss of ecosystems, including climate and cultural damage.
- The Governments should protect existing forests and make compulsory that at least 10% of all land owned for agricultural uses is dedicated to forestry.
- A targeted nationwide Information campaign to educate the population about the climate crisis regarding the causes, the effects and the solutions is required.
- Mandatory “sustainability” education from primary level to the workplace including a new compulsory Junior Cycle & optional Leaving Certificate subject should be introduced.
The Forum agrees that all of these 10 points needs to be implemented across Ireland. The Forum believes that local government should also play a key role in partnership with central government to implementing such measures.
The Forum has a particular focus on energy and has already called on the government to ban the importation of fracked gas. It notes that the upcoming investment on an interconnector with France, whilst insulating Ireland from energy shocks that may coming from a ‘Brexit’ scenario in the UK, means that it will be importing nuclear energy from France, which seems incongruous since Ireland is a legally ‘nuclear free’ state. As the Irish Times has correctly commented, French nuclear policy is in a mess with the bill for modernising its ageing reactors currently estimated at €100 billion, and likely to rise. (3)
Whilst interconnectors are useful to provide energy security, Ireland’s core issue with energy has to be in developing and investing in a greater level of domestic renewable energy generation. Councils need greater powers and resource to be enabled to develop local microgeneration projects, as well as in developing low carbon policies through local energy agencies such as the Tipperary Energy Agency and the Dublin Energy Agency – CODEMA. The country needs such dynamic groups working to deliver low carbon energy across the island.
All Ireland Sustainable Energy Forum Co-Chair, Councillor Malcolm Noonan, added:
“It has been revitalising for Irish politics that our younger generation has come forward in calling out politicians for not doing enough in tackling the climate crisis. I welcome the Youth Assembly Climate Declaration and call on TDs, councillors and political parties to embrace its findings. Ireland has to step up its activity in dealing with the climate emergency. The island has a copious bounty of untapped renewable resources and yet we still look to energy imports as a core part of powering the country. Local Councils need to take on board the message from our young people and bring in dynamic new policies that deliver renewable energy projects, environmental and sustainable education and the planting of millions of new trees as part of a national climate change strategy. Young people know time is of the essence – it is up to us as politicians to deliver their wish of a sustainable, low carbon Ireland. ”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) NFLA All Ireland Sustainable Energy Forum Autumn Energy Policy Seminar – The role of local government in delivering sustainable energy solutions: City Hall, Dublin, 18th October
(2) Youth Assembly on Climate Dail Declaration, 22nd November
(3) Irish Times, 19th November 2019