By James Ward, PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has been accused of a “cop out” on commitments made at Cop26 before “the ink is dry on the agreement”.
At the climate conference in Glasgow this week, Ireland signed up to a global pledge to limit methane emissions by 30 per cent compared with 2020 levels.
But the Government has indicated that the pledge will not be included in Ireland’s forthcoming carbon budgets, which will target a 10 per cent cut in methane, as well as larger reductions in other gas emissions.
Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shorthall questioned if the Government’s actions on climate will meet its rhetoric.
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, she said: “The omens are not good, it has to be said.
“Yesterday you said Ireland would sign a pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent, before hastily adding that this was a global target and not a national one.
“We hear the climate action plan contains a target of just 10 per cent reduction and the Tánaiste also used this 10 per cent figure yesterday.
“Can you explain the purpose of publicly signing up to a 30 per cent reduction target, when it seems you have no intention of even even attempting to achieve that?”
Ms Shorthall said that if every country took that approach there would be “zero chance” the targets would be met.
“Why are you making commitments at Cop that you cop out of as soon as the ink is dry on the agreement?” she asked.
Responding, Mr Martin insisted the Cop26 agreement of a 30 per cent reduction in methane is a global target, towards which individual countries will have to contribute.
He accused Ms Shorthall of an “abundance of negativity”.
He said: “You seem to persistently want to seek to undermine what are genuine and transformative decisions by this Government to step-change our response to climate change, which we have done through the climate action legislation, through the establishment of the climate council and the carbon budgeting that will occur.
“On the global methane pledge, I think the deputy is being somewhat disingenuous here.
“Read the pledge. Read what people have signed up to. It is a global pledge.
“So globally, collectively, in different ways and through different mechanisms, countries who sign up will contribute to that overall 30 per cent global reduction in methane.”
Mr Martin said the Government’s climate action plan will “deal with every sector”, including energy, transport, agriculture, land use and deforestation.
In agriculture, the Govt itself is riven on its climate plan.
Eamon Ryan insists the national herd will decrease – while FF and FG use the word “stabilisation” whenever the national herd is mentioned.
“Which is it Taoiseach, a decrease or stabilisation?” asks @RoisinShortall. pic.twitter.com/WmO76piCEB
— Social Democrats (@SocDems) November 3, 2021
Ms Shorthall also asked the Taoiseach for clarity on plans to cull the national herd as part of Ireland’s climate goals.
She noted that the Green Party has called for a reduction in size, while members of the other coalition parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, have “mysteriously started to use the phrase “stabilisation”.
Mr Martin did not respond to the question despite repeated requests from Ms Shorthall.