Labour candidate Dominic Hannigan calls for Ireland to declare climate emergency

Issued : Monday 6 May, 2019

Dominic Hannigan, the Labour Party’s European election candidate in the Midlands North West constituency, has called for Ireland to declare a climate emergency.

Tackling climate chaos is one of Mr. Hannigan’s three priority themes for his campaign, and he launched his detailed climate proposals today (06.05.19) at an event at the Bog of Allen.

Speaking at the launch, Mr. Hannigan said: “The UK made history last week, when the House of Commons declared an ‘environment and climate emergency’, the first national parliament in the world to do so. We, in Ireland, must follow suit.

“Ireland has been rated as the worst-performing country in the EU by the Climate Change Performance Index. By playing down the enormity of the threat, successive governments have passed the buck when it comes to tackling climate chaos. An official declaration of a climate emergency would be a recognition of the enormous challenge we are facing and of the urgent, immediate need for change.

“I am launching my climate policy today against the backdrop of Ireland’s iconic bogscape. I’m looking out over the Bog of Allen, one of our richest cultural heritage sites. If we fail to take action on climate chaos now, the stark reality is that such sites will be drastically impacted.

“And, in addition to losing our treasured landscapes as we know them, climate chaos will wreak – and has already caused – loss of human life, loss of livelihoods and widespread destruction of communities. According to the UN, we – as a planet – may only have about 11 years left to avoid a potential climate catastrophe and prevent irreversible damage to the Earth.

“The time for passing the buck is over. We need an emergency declared, and we need action at all levels now.”

Policy Proposals

As an MEP, Mr. Hannigan said he will focus on “bridging the local and the global” to achieve real results. His climate proposals include:

  • Holding the Irish Government and European institutions to account in relation to meeting their commitments under the Paris Agreement and EU 2030;

  • Working to introduce an ‘EU Just Transition Fund’, to address climate change in a manner that doesn’t punish families, working people, and small businesses;

  • Introducing meaningful ways to engage young people on climate action, including support for local and regional citizens’ assemblies and youth assemblies; and

  • Expanding local initiatives, including bike-sharing and Bottle Return Deposit schemes.

“Internationally, we need to see governments and industries cooperating to effect huge change on issues such as energy use, industry emissions and land use. Unsustainable farming, food waste and the huge carbon footprint of textile production also need to be addressed,” he said.

“As grassroots movements such as the School Strikes and Extinction Rebellion have shown, we are not powerless as individuals. At the smallest level, we too can effect change. But, if the Government stays silent, fewer people will be aware of the urgency of these issues. That’s why an official declaration of a climate emergency is required.”

Mr. Hannigan said a recent survey he conducted amongst young people in the Midlands North West informed his policy proposals on climate chaos.

“In a recent survey of young voters in this constituency, 78% of respondents selected ‘Ensuring Ireland tackles climate change’ as the issue of greatest importance to them. This issue scored higher than all other options listed for survey respondents,” he said.

“An overwhelming majority of survey respondents felt Ireland and the EU are not currently doing enough to tackle climate change: 94% said the Irish Government is lacking in this regard, with 88% sharing this sentiment in relation to the EU.

“Young people are telling and showing us we need change, and we need it now. As an MEP, I will follow the leadership they have shown in responding to climate chaos.”

Mr. Hannigan was joined at his climate policy launch by Labour Party election candidates for Kildare County Council. The launch took place at Lodge Bog, Co. Kildare, a private nature reserve managed by the Irish Peatland Conservation Council.