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Jesuit Centre raises concern over legality of government draft Climate Plan

The Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice has called upon the Government to adhere to the legislative requirements of the Climate and Low Carbon Development Act (2015) when formalising the National Mitigation Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Catherine Devitt (see photo), Environmental Justice Officer at the centre, said that “while the draft Mitigation Plan acknowledges the challenges that Ireland faces, it failed to outline in detail a specific mitigation framework for effective and just climate policy in Ireland. This goes against the explicit legislative requirements established by the Climate Act.” ,

She acknowledges that there were some positive elements in the draft Plan but added, “Generally, it adopts a wait-and-see policy approach. The overall tone is cautious, almost defeatist, and climate action is framed as undesirable and costly. This is despite substantial evidence showing that the costs of inaction greatly outweigh the costs of action.”

Catherine Devitt noted that under the Climate Act, climate justice is one of the principles that Irish climate policy must give heed to.

“Our analysis of the draft Plan showed an absence of any reference to the profound local and global human and ecological costs of inaction, the costs of non-compliance with EU targets, the wider systemic risks of inaction, or how any of these costs will be managed”.

Ms. Devitt says, “The non-negotiable nature of climate change and the imperative upon the State to protect its citizens from avertable harm requires an ambitious and equitable climate mitigation measures. We are urging the Government to bring forward a new plan that presents a compelling vision for a decarbonised Ireland and that adopts a pragmatic and positive approach to climate action.”

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Climate Change Advisory Council (Ireland’s independent advisory body) have overtly stated that transformational change, long-term planning, and concrete policies are essential across all aspects of Irish society. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis emphasised that reducing greenhouse gases requires responsibility, courage and honesty by countries that pollute the most (§ 169).

The draft National Mitigation Plan, which recently closed for public consultation, is the first under Ireland’s Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act (2015) and follows Ireland’s ratification of the Paris Agreement last year. The Climate Act requires that the Mitigation Plan must outline a specific policy roadmap that will enable Ireland to reach its short and long-term climate targets.

The joint submission, which includes 21 recommendations, is available online.

The JCFJ works to promote social justice by fostering an understanding of public issues through social analysis, reflection and advocacy. The social justice issues of concern to the Centre include penal policy, housing and homelessness, environmental