Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O'Sullivan has been elected as Vice Chair of the Committee on Climate Action.
The West Cork TD who has a passion for wildlife and biodiversity and previously worked as a whale watching guide said that his main focus now will be bringing forward the Climate Action Bill which he described as “one of the most important pieces of legislation that will ever come before the Dáil”.
The Climate Action Bill is set to be published this year with the Programme for Government committing to an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030 and to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
Deputy O’Sullivan said that he believes that a lot can be achieved by the Climate Action Committee who will have “a lot of important legislation to scrutinise and amend if necessary and none more so than the Climate Action Bill”.
“It is the most important tool that we will have in targeting climate change and reducing emissions. It was at the forefront for the Programme for Government. I can't stress enough the importance of this, I get phone calls and emails daily from people urging us to move on climate action and reducing emissions and I understand fully the urgency of it. At the same time, we need to get it right so there will be a period of pre-legislative scrutiny.
“The Bill has been published, it will come to us for scrutiny and to go through the different sections of the Bill to make sure that it’s fit for purpose and will achieve what we want it to achieve,” he said.
According to the Programme for Government, the Climate Action Bill was to be introduced in the Dáil within the first 100 days of government, alongside a newly established Climate Action Council.
Deputy O’Sullivan said that some “really ambitious targets” have been set and that one “cannot just set those targets and expect them to happen” but that “there needs to be some governance”.
An avid birdwatcher, Deputy O’Sullivan said that he is very much aware that “wildlife across Ireland is being devastated” and that action is needed now.
“My passion is wildlife and biodiversity and I’m seeing species that were common when I was a kid under serious pressure. The likes of the Curlew which is almost extinct as a breeding species and the Yellowhammer - a beautiful bright yellow farmland bird - their numbers have reduced dramatically,” he said.
Deputy O’Sullivan said that he hopes the Climate Action Bill which he said is a response to those who have been vocal in taking action, “particularly on the streets of Cork city in recent years” does not fall short.
“I’m sure there will be some critics and some people will say we’re not going far enough but I think this Bill is very significant,” he said.