Deputy Mattie McGrath feels that the new climate bill turns rural Ireland “into the victim of environmental policy”, leaving behind the principles of a just transition.

Speaking in the Dáil this week on the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021, independent TD McGrath said that the legislative impact of this bill “will make every single Irish citizen poorer or much less well-off”.

‘There must be a fairer way’

The deputy said he is fully committed to improving the environment and reducing global greenhouse gas emissions – however, in pursuing “these noble objectives, it should not have the impact of making people poorer”.

“There is a better way”, the deputy said, “there must be a fairer way”.

“A path that must be socially just and grounded in economic equality which also achieves the required reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Social justice is central to my belief of what public service should be.”

Deputy McGrath, and his colleagues in the Rural Independent Group, are concerned that this bill is being rushed through the Dáil, “while the country is amid a pandemic, without any consideration for the impact it will have on ordinary people, farmers or rural Ireland”.

Legislative impact of climate bill

“This bill turns rural Ireland into the victim of environmental policy,” the deputy continued.

“At the very minimum, such legislative proposals should be accompanied by rigorous independent analysis into the social, societal and economic impact of such proposals and on how they will impact each sector.

“That would allow TDs, at least, the opportunity to make informed decisions and to provide for transparency around the costs and the benefits associated with the far-reaching impacts of this bill.

“In fact, this legislation did not even contain a straightforward Regulatory Impact Assessment of the bill. We are promised that it will be published at committee stage of the bill. Again, this serves to highlight the rushed nature.

“This legislation has one common denominator – the legislative impact will make every single Irish citizen poorer or much less well-off.”

‘Hammer Ireland’s economy’

The rural independents also believe the bill will do “absolutely nothing” to reduce emissions, and instead, will “hammer Ireland’s economy, cost thousands of jobs both directly and indirectly, and impoverish people further”.

“Such nonsense fools no one. If we were serious about reducing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, then we would be focusing our efforts outward,” the deputy added.

“Instead, the approach of the inward focus of this bill will target Irish people and do nothing to reduce global emissions.

“Greenhouse gas emissions are a global issue. The government approach is tokenism and amounts to penalties on Irish people – while turning a blind eye to what happens on a global stage.”

The deputy said that TDs can either support the bill, or “stand with farmers and local communities by voting against this bill”.

“You cannot dine a la carte on this issue,” he said. “If you vote in favour of this bill, you are crucifying every person living in rural Ireland.”