Another talk shop or a body with teeth?

19 January 2016: The order legally establishing the Climate Change Advisory Council was signed by the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly, TD, on the 18th of January.  The important work of the Council commenced, on an interim basis, in June 2015 and it has already held two preliminary meetings.

The Council is an independent advisory body which will act to assess and advise on how Ireland is making the transition to a low emission climate resilient society and economy.  The roles of the Council include:

  • Assessment of progress in meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets to 2020 as well as those that are expected to be agreed shortly at EU level for 2030.
  • Advising on the most effective policies to make the longer term transition to a carbon free economy.
  • Advising on how best to respond to the impacts of climate change.

The Council will provide annual progress reports, and more comprehensive periodic reports on a less frequent basis. The first annual report (for 2016) will be published early in 2017.

The Paris Agreement, which received unprecedented global support at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting during December, provides a global context for the establishment of the Council.

GEAI welcomes this initiative, which is long overdue, and appreciates the breadth of expertise among the appointed members. We also appreciate the fact that vested interests are not included in the membership and that we can expect an independent overview of Government action on Climate Change.
However, we are disappointed that there is no community representation on the Council, an absence that could result in a more theoretical than practical approach to its discourse. We also query the plan that, even though the council has been active since June 2015 and has had two meetings already, there will not be an Annual report till 2017. Why this delay? Even publication in Q4 of this year would make the work of the Council more relevant.
Having said all the above, GEAI welcomes the launch of the Climate Change Advisory Council and looks forward to the first report of this body on this crucial global issue.