The government has to “prove its bona fides on the climate crisis” as a number of “crucial tests” will come its way over the coming months.

Following the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report raising the ‘climate alarm’, a “national conversation” about what needs to be done to meet and surpass revised climate targets is more necessary than ever, according to Labour TD Ged Nash.

The deputy said that while “it is fine to talk about the climate act being in place, it is only a framework for action and not a plan in itself”.

“The act is not a test of government. What will follow is,” he said.

Clear plans and targets

The deputy has outlined a number of “immediate challenges and opportunities” facing the government and the climate action agenda.

One such challenge and opportunity involves the revised National Development Plan that is due to be published this autumn – “it has to show a clear focus on climate adaption and mitigation issues at an unprecedented level”.

“The time for talking on public transport, charging infrastructure, carbon sinks is over. We need clear plans and targets,” the deputy said.

He also outlined a need for revised mitigation and adaptation plans, as the National Mitigation Plan of 2017 is “no longer fit for purpose”.

Meanwhile, carbon budgets have to be “clear and transparent”, he continued.

“As things stand, climate scientists do not understand how our agricultural strategy fits into our climate strategy. 

“In the interests of farmers and us all that has to be clear. We need a joined-up strategy consistent with the science. The time for fudges is over. 

“We need to support climate-related sustainable activity in our farming sector.”

Ireland also needs an energy plan to “ensure we are in a position to avail of our huge national advantages in terms of wind power”.

“We need to be ambitious but, while we make the necessary changes, we cannot allow any single sector to jeopardise the project.”

The Louth TD added that climate budgets are as important as annual budgets – and that the job involves not only the Department of the Environment, but also the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure as well.

“Tax and spending policy must support climate goals. My experience is that this key point is not fully understood by government.”

‘Equal to the task’

Yesterday (Tuesday, August 10), Taoiseach Micheál Martin broke his silence on the historic IPCC report, saying that he is “absolutely confident that we understand the scale of what needs to be done and that we are equal to the task”.

“The Climate Action Plan 2021 will be published this autumn and will reflect our higher level emissions reduction ambition and will set out the direction of Ireland’s response to the deepening climate crisis,” the Taoiseach said.

“We will set out in detail, sector by sector, the targets and steps necessary to achieve our overall objectives.

“The time to act is now and government is doing so. But government on its own cannot make the difference required.

“In our republic, every citizen, industry and community must embrace this challenge and make the decisions necessary for positive change.”