Climate Conversations 2023: Response Template

The Climate Conversations Consultation is a key forum through which people can have their say on climate action, how it affects them, and policies they would like to see implemented. It is designed to inform the Climate Action Plan 2024.

Why does it matter?

Ireland’s Climate Action Plan, and its Annex of Actions, is published annually. Its purpose is to set out a roadmap for meeting Ireland’s 2021-2025 legally binding carbon budget, that is, the total amount of emissions that may be emitted in the State during a five-year period.

In 2019, Ireland was the second country in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency. Despite this, Ireland remains the third worst emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. The latest projections by the Environmental Protection Agency and An Taisce show that Ireland will fall significantly short of its 2030 legally binding emissions reduction targets.

How to have your say:

The link to the survey is available here.

It takes approximately 20 minutes in total to complete.

The deadline is Friday September 8th at 5.30pm.

Community Law and Mediation’s Centre for Environmental Justice has prepared an “Environmental Justice” template response, which you can navigate below – please adapt it and make it your own, but use as much of it as you need.

• This section includes 5 multi-choice questions about your views on climate change.
• There is a comment box at the end where you can be honest about your feelings on the climate crisis. CLM provided the following response:

Following the hottest June and wettest July on record for Ireland, it is deeply troubling that Ireland’s emissions remain among the highest per capita in the EU. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently warned that the Climate Action Plan 2023 – if fully implemented – will exceed the first two legally-binding carbon budgets (2021-2025; 2026-2030) by 22%, “a significant margin.” The EPA has called for the urgent implementation of “policies that deliver emission reductions across all sectors in the short term” in order to adhere to the carbon budget program. In response to the EPA’s assessment, the Climate Change Advisory Council further warned that “The Government needs to set out credible and detailed implementation plans to enable us to achieve our ambitious targets.”

The Council previously highlighted in their 2021 and 2022 Annual Reports that considerable gaps remain between proposed climate action measures and implementation. CAP24 must therefore deliver “rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented” reductions in emissions in order to limit the human rights impacts of climate change and to comply with Ireland’s legal duty to take climate action consistent with a 1.5°C threshold. The longer climate action is delayed, the more difficult it will be. As the impacts of climate change worsen, and as the window to remain within 1.5°C narrows, the policy response may become abrupt, forceful, and disorderly. Communities should instead be empowered and supported through an inclusive and fair transition.

• The first nine questions refer to the importance of different actors in delivering climate action, from individuals to the European Union.
• The following 6 questions refer to how well you think the Irish government is delivering on climate action.
• The final 3 questions ask about your engagement in climate action.
• A comment box at the end invites responses to: “Do you have any other comments you would like to add about climate action levels and responsibilities?” CLM provided the following response:

We do not consider the Irish government’s action on climate change to date to represent positive climate leadership. In relation to the Climate Action Plan (CAP) specifically, lessons must be taken from the failures of Climate Action Plan 2023 and its corresponding Annex of Actions. For example, neither the CAP23 nor its corresponding Annex of Actions quantified the reductions in emissions anticipated from the implementation of either specific or collective measures. While the CAP23 was published in December 2022, the Annex was only published in March 2023, it was not until June 2023 (i.e. more than 6 months after the publication of the CAP23) that the Environmental Protection Agency found that CAP23 was inconsistent with emission reduction requirements per Carbon Budgets 1 and 2.

Public assessment of various policies and measures included in CAP23 and its Annex is, as a result, very challenging. Delayed publication of the Annex hinders the Government’s capacity to deliver timely and full implementation of the Climate Action Plan. According to the Climate Action Plan 2023 Q1 Progress Report (published on May 4th 2023), a quarter of the Climate Action Plan 2023 Q1 measures have been delayed (25%). No proposals are made within the progress report to demonstrate how implementation shortfalls will be compensated by additional policies or measures to ensure compliance with Carbon Budget 1. The Government should identify, quantify, and measure policies (eg phase out the production and importation of fossil fuels) to ensure CAP24 and its Annex of Actions are fully consistent with Carbon Budgets 1 and 2, and include measures to ensure their successful and timely implementation.

•This section asks questions that relate to your understanding of climate change and where you source information about climate change.

•14 questions related to your understanding of climate change are asked in this section

One of the questions refers to the likelihood that climate change will cause a “global migration crisis.” This is irresponsible framing. Migration is a resilient and adaptive response to the climate crisis – it is not a crisis within itself, nor does it pose a threat to Ireland’s national security. Research has shown that framing climate migration as a “crisis” is likely to elicit backlash (see: Gillis, A., Geiger, N., Raimi, K. et al. Climate change–induced immigration to the United States has mixed influences on public support for climate change and migrants. Climatic Change 176, 48 (2023).

Another of the questions refers to the importance of balancing emissions “sources” and “sinks”. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change has described the extensive deployment of negative emissions technologies as ‘subject to multiple feasibility and sustainability constraints’. There is a danger that GHG removals will be seen as a substitute (rather than in addition) to immediate and significant emission reductions. The problem with an overreliance on GHG removals include the risk that carbon could leak back into the atmosphere; the risk of heightened competition for land; and the fact that most technologies are still only prospective and do not yet exist at scale. It is for this reason that scholars call for separate emissions reductions and GHG removals targets and for the urgent prioritisation of ‘much more ambitious, near term [emissions] reductions’.

•This section asks 29 questions about a range of actions that could be taken across areas like transport, food, home, and day-to-day activities.
•This section includes two comment boxes; the first invites you to include “any other actions that you think might have a big impact on reducing carbon emissions.” CLM orovided the following response:

Many of the sustainable options listed here (such as retrofitting, installation of a heat pump or solar panels) are not available or affordable to many people. These barriers need to be addressed. Much greater investment from the government is needed, ideally to cover the full cost of energy efficiency measures such as retrofit, to ensure that energy efficiency measures are available to all households, regardless of income or home ownership status. This is particularly important in the context of Ireland’s energy poverty crisis, where up to 40% of households are estimated to have experienced energy poverty last winter. CAP24 should seek to reduce energy poverty and energy emissions in tandem.

•The second (and final) comment box in section 4 invites you to include “any barriers not mentioned so far that you think prevent people of making more impactful actions.”

•CLM submitted the following response:

It is unclear why certain questions are included within this consultation, for instance, the questions related to pets. By way of comparison, the CAP23 provides no clarity as to how agricultural emissions will be reduced, particularly when a model of expansion seems set to continue for the agri-food sector. CAP23 furthermore does not clarify when the production and importation of fossil fuels will be entirely phased out. Fossil fuels are the primary contributor to climate change and account for 57% of Ireland’s overall emissions profile (SEAI). The CAP24 must address the primary causes of climate change, and it would be more empowering if this consultation engaged the public on questions of how the government can deliver reductions in emissions across all sectors of the economy, consistent with carbon budget 1, in a manner that is fair and brings the public along.

Many of the low-carbon alternatives suggested in this questionnaire (such as retrofitting, electric vehicles, and heat pumps) are simply not affordable or accessible to people living in Ireland, recently recognised as the most expensive country in the EU. Those who have contributed least to the climate crisis – low-income, one-parent families, and members of the Traveller community, for example – have no means of choosing lower carbon alternatives, and do not necessarily have the bandwidth to worry about such concerns (the “end of the world” v “the end of the month.”) Had this consultation asked about the proportion of one’s income allocated to rent and energy bills, and whether one has savings, for example – a more comprehensive response as to why one may not be positioned to adopt more environmentally friendly behaviours would be more clear. The evident onus placed on individual action through this consultation is disempowering and inconsistent with a human-rights approach to climate action.

•The final section asks some questions about you- such as your age, living arrangements, and employment status (you can choose to opt out of those questions if preferred).

That’s it! You’ve completed Climate Conversations 2023.