Yesterday evening (Wednesday, May 12) the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 was voted to committee stage.

This was the bill’s first vote in the Dáil, passing the second stage with 117 votes (Fianna Fáil; Fine Gael; Green Party; Sinn Féin; Social Democrats; Labour Party; Solidarity-People before Profit; and three TDs in the Regional Group) versus 12 votes.

The 12 TDs who voted against the progression of this bill are: Seán Canney; Joan Collins; Michael Collins; Michael Fitzmaurice; Danny Healy-Rae; Michael Healy-Rae; Mattie McGrath; Verona Murphy; Denis Naughten; Carol Nolan; Richard O’Donoghue; Peadar Tóibín.

Climate bill moves to committee stage

The climate bill, which will establish a legally binding framework for meeting climate targets, will now undergo a more detailed examination at committee stage.

Before this stage, members of government and opposition parties can put down amendments.

The Rural Independent Group of TDs has committed to challenging this “flawed bill“, and will “submit amendments and rigorously scrutinise and debate every line of this bill to protect the interests of every rural family and community”.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture Matt Carthy has said his party will seek changes to the bill “to protect rural communities and the vulnerable”.

Rural TD critical of Sinn Féin

He said that it will bring forward amendments “aimed at ensuring that all carbon budgets are accompanied by social, economic, and rural impact assessments and an obligation on government to take action to mitigate any negative consequences”.

“In order to protect farmers, we will seek agreement that will ensure that no future measure adopted at a domestic level actually results in a net increase in global emissions. There is no point in reducing production of sustainable Irish food if the alternative leads to the importation of less sustainable products,” he added.

However, TD Carol Nolan, who is a member of the Rural Independent Group, has heavily criticised Sinn Féin in particular for “speaking out of both sides of its mouth” on this bill.

In a statement today, deputy Nolan claimed that the bill is “not only economically dangerous, but it is also profoundly undemocratic, especially with respect to the binding nature of the carbon budgets and the lack of effective oversight by the Dáil”.