25 Feb

General Election 2016- climate change recommendations

your vote G16

During the current recession Irish concerns for Climate Change have dropped as a priority issue for voters and politicians  alike. This is understandable since all news of the Paris Cop21 agreement and the emphasis on more mundane election issues that has now ensued.  One might be forgiven for thinking the Climate matters are being dealt with by governments old and new. But it doesn’t look this way to us. So what’s our General Election 2016- climate change recommendations on voting?

your vote G16

GE16 your vote?

Cop21 Background

Back in December 2015, the UN climate change conference, COP 21, produced the ‘Paris agreement’, which commits nearly 200 countries (Ireland included) to limit global temperature increase “well below” 2 degrees, and to make efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees. (These are compared to pre-industrial levels).

This consensus and resulting agreement exceeded the  expectations of many detractors (including ourselves). We got commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and to put $100 billion p.a. into climate mitigation finance by the developed world. With this background to the election it’s  no surprise that all the political parties have mentioned climate change policies in their manifestos and accept the targets set out by the Paris COP21 agreement. But is this simply ticking the boxes and is ther any real substance behind these promises?

Details vary significantly between Parties..

We reviewed the published Climate Change and Green policies that we could find from all the candidate parties and found wide variations on their promises . What marks them apart, which also was highlighted by the Leaders debates , is their treatment of agricultural emissions.  We saw large variations in terms of detail and specific commitments. There are  opt-out clauses for particular sectors or interest groups (agriculture , power generation and transport).

There are restrictions, omissions and limitations in all the manifestos.

General Election 2016- climate change recommendations

Fine Gael

Where are the  targets for electric vehicles,? (they had it  the 2011 manifesto). There is a Climate Change section with good measures on biomass for example. Forestry is covered with 6,000 hectares of new forestry planned over 2½ years. But we get no firm commitments to metrics and all eco-initiatives must be “balanced” against other interests, including rural economy and expansion of agricultural produce (Food Wise 2025).  This is code for no action or long delays. They avoid fracking  commitments one way or another and where is Solar Energy on their radar? They are lukewarm on Wind energy and balance the concerns of local communities. Commitments to Greenways and public transport plans are there, but could be more aggressive.

Labour Party

We liked their commitments to carbon-neutral cities within 20 years, community based projects but they lack targets and metrics on how this will happen. They are against fracking.  Fossil fuel dependency will not disappear as they will retain  Whitegate refinery open but , on the plus side, they will replace the coal-burning Moneypoint with low-carbon energy. The catch here is the target date … by 2025 (long after the next government moves on. While they favour the use of compressed natural gas as an interim alternative to petrol/diesel they lack commitment to accelarate EV usage.

Fianna Fáil

FF, by contrast with Labour, is aggressive  on electric vehicle adoption with four specific incentives for drivers. We liked the promised dedicated department of climate change, incorporating energy, transport and flood defences, which is a holistic approach that will work.  Like FG, they are considering community resistance to date and are not keen  on wind energy. We also liked the commitment from Michael Mc Grath to oppose a merchant Toxic Waste Incinerator proposals for Ringaskiddy.

Sinn Féin

Their commitments to climate change are a  ‘bit wolly’ in relation to their competition. We do not see a detailed transport policy or a comprehensive view on energy .The party is clear on opposing fracking however. We like their approach on  energy efficiency and retrofits for housing, which will help with energy bills.

Green Party

As expected they are more in sync with COP21. They call for 2030 binding targets with an aggressive  80% emissions reduction by 2050. They lay  out plans for agriculture, forestry, energy and transport. In contrast to FG and the others  they will not expand fully the national herd under Food Wise 2025.

Renua Ireland

Their Manifesto is impressive in some areas, poor in others. The section on climate and natural resources opposes wind energy (spotting a trend here?) , prefers solar and wave / tidal energy. They put strong emphasis on good air quality but support road building, which will cause more vehicle emissions and reduce air quality.  They support biomass energy generation (more emissions) but they share a dislike of  fracking  with the others.

Social Democrats

 The SD’s are impressive on electric vehicles, increased public transport, housing energy efficiency and elimination of fossil (peat ) fuel burning. But where is their detailed strategy on Solar power, and we don’t find targets and metrics. It’s a big gap.

People Before Profit

Their manifesto is small but to the point. They oppose fracking. As regards energy efficiency, they  support retrofit  insulation programmes and plan to use Coillte landbanks for energy projects (Solar, Biomass, Wind).

The rating. Our eco voting preference.

Our overall impression is one of disappointment with the efforts made by them all. No one deserves the ‘douze points’ in EuroSong  jargon. So we’ve ranked the policies in a similar manner to the polling paper so you can think about it in vote casting mode. Maybe no one deserves at No1….start with a No2. The need to take the issues more seriously to merit a No.1 preference.

  1. some other candidate
  2. Green party.
  3. Labour party
  4. Social Democrats
  5. Fianna Fáil
  • Fine Gael
  • Renua
  • Sinn Féin
  • People Before Profit.

The parties in italics have insufficient space and details to merit any vote recommendation.

25 Feb

Zero Waste Manifesto

Circular Economy and Zero Waste – the Manifesto.

In October 2015, around 150 politicians, NGOs and business representatives gathered in Poznan for a Zero Waste Seminar to put forward a new plan for to keep resources in the economy, cut waste, and boost repair and reuse. Co-organised by the European Environmental Bureau as part of the Make Resources Count campaign, the event created a Zero Waste Manifesto that is being used to push National  Governments and the European Commission to take real action on the circular economy.

Zero Waste Alliance Ireland is happy to endorse this manifesto and asks that we all strive to implement it in our daily activities.

As European environmental law is being continuously refined, so we must always assess and critique changes against our objectives – the Circular Economy and the complementary Zero Waste methodology.

Zero Waste Manifesto

Zero Waste Manifesto

The Circular Economy Manifesto

The Zero Waste Manifesto has 8 basic points which all combine to create a Circular Economy through concerted action.

  1. The main goal of waste management is to reduce the amount of waste. We therefore propose that the key indicators to be propagated and inscribed into law on the EU level be those based on per capita volumes of non-recycled and non-reused waste posing a burden to the environment. This way, it would be possible to verify the progress made by high-consumption societies in achieving environmental goals and also to promote countries, where waste production per capita is low, which makes their “initial” negative impact on the environment much smaller.
  2. National law, strategy documents (national and regional waste management plans), and programs (Operational Programme ‘Infrastructure and Environment’ and Regional Operational Programmes) need to be readjusted in order to provide support for the shift toward the Circular Economy entailing, first of all, waste reduction at the source, reuse of products, and separate collection and recycling of raw materials.
  3. Although waste prevention has been given the highest priority, it still is the least developed in terms of management, evaluation, and integration with other waste management steps in the hierarchy.
  4. It is necessary to introduce changes to the national and EU laws that would facilitate easier and cheaper repairs, while significantly increasing longevity of products. Better repair-ability means more jobs, also in the social business sector offering employment to people affected by social exclusion.
  5. Likewise, there is a need for legal changes aimed at improving the rates of separate waste collection at source. Separate collection of especially organic waste holds the key to a better quality of raw materials, higher recycling rates, and reduced amounts of residual waste. Furthermore, it translates into a substantial rise in the number of new jobs and helps maintain a less energy-intensive economy.
  6. We are against spending public money on the construction of waste incinerators. As demonstrated by the examples of communities carrying out the Zero Waste projects, it is possible to reduce the amount of waste, boost employment and lower the operating cost of the system, all without having to build any incineration plants.
  7. All stakeholders must take part in the creation of the complementary system. The residents ought to be included in the decision-making and system design processes, since the attainment of waste reduction and recycling goals is dependent on them. Local administration should remain open to consultations, take care of streamlining the system in a continuous manner and report on its effects.
  8. Local governments should act as the catalysts for positive change: Encourage, enable, exemplify, engage. Sometimes it is better to make the first move instead of waiting for the national or EU institutions to take action. Bottom-up initiatives are the key to success and are much more effective because of e.g. higher citizen participation or the ability to shorten both the product and waste loops.


About the Zero Waste Manifesto seminar:

The seminar brought together 150 guests, including leading experts from Belgium, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, the UK, and the communities, where modern systems consistent with the Circular Economy and Zero Waste have already been implemented. The seminar was organized by the European Environmental Bureau, the Society for Earth (TNZ), Zero Waste Europe in cooperation with Abrys Sp. z o.o. and ENVICON.