Development organisations call for urgent changes to Climate Bill’s definition of “Climate Justice”

In a letter published today, the organisations said it would be better to have no definition of “climate justice” than to use the Bill’s current, misleading definition 

Leading international development organisations, Oxfam Ireland, Christian Aid Ireland, Concern and Trócaire, have today published a letter [1] to all TDs and senators, seeking an urgent change to the definition of “climate justice” in the Climate Bill, which is currently before the Seanad. The organisations, who are all members of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition [2], say that the Bill’s current definition of “climate justice” is too weak and will undermine efforts to ensure that Ireland does its fair share of the global effort to limit warming to below 1.5 °C. 
They are calling for amendments to the Climate Bill to ensure that:

  • The Bill provides a clear and binding commitment to remaining below 1.5°C.
  • Action on climate change and biodiversity loss is fully complementary.
  • Climate Justice and Just Transition are enshrined as the Climate Bill’s central organising principles.

Rosamond Bennett, CEO of Christian Aid Ireland said: 

“While there’s much to welcome in the Bill, it was disappointing that the Minister rejected all proposed amendments for a stronger definition of Climate Justice during the Dáil debates, particularly as this was a clear, cross-party recommendation from the Oireachtas Climate Committee. There’s a last chance to get this right in the Seanad. A Bill that does not capture the extremely unequal, international dimension to this problem and our fair share of the global effort to keep warming below 1.5 degrees will be a huge missed opportunity.”

Sinead Morgan of Concern’s 1Planet4All campaign said:

“We are deeply concerned that the definition currently included in the Bill actually weakens and undermines the principle of climate justice by omitting any reference to the issue of global justice and equity. We urge the Seanad to consider replacing the current definition to reflect the obligation to support the people who are most impacted by climate change. This Bill must help address inequality, not deepen inequalities even further”

Jim Clarken, CEO of Oxfam Ireland said: 

“Oxfam’s own research has highlighted the global problem of carbon inequality where the world’s poorest 50% (c.3.1 billion people) were responsible for just 7% of cumulative global emissions, and used just 4% of the available global carbon budget. Yet climate change threatens the lives and livelihoods of the poorest people on the planet, even though they have contributed the least to the problem. The UN Convention on Climate Change established the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities which means that developed and wealthy countries with high emissions per capita such as Ireland must step up and do more.”

Caoimhe de Barra, CEO of Trócaire said: 

“The communities that we work with daily are already experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis, which is why we have argued over the last decade that it is essential that climate breakdown is understood and tackled as an international, social justice and equality issue.” 

The organisations have noted the strong commitment from all governing parties to enact the Climate Bill with urgency and have acknowledged the progress to date in strengthening the Bill. But they say that if the Government will not change the Bill’s current definition of “climate justice”, then the proposed definition should be deleted altogether. That would restore the existing position in the 2015 Climate Act that climate justice is an undefined principle which the Government must have regard to when adopting climate policies. That would be preferable to the weak definition in the current Bill.

[1] The full text of the letter can be viewed at this link:

[2] Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) is a coalition of civil society organisations campaigning to ensure Ireland plays its part in preventing runaway climate change. It was launched in 2007 and is the largest network of organisations campaigning for action on climate change in Ireland. Its membership includes development, environmental, youth and faith-based organisations. Its members are: Afri, An Taisce, BirdWatch Ireland, Christian Aid Ireland, Comhlámh, Community Work Ireland, Clare PPN, Concern Worldwide, Cultivate,, Dublin Friends of the Earth, Eco Congregation Ireland, ECO UNESCO, Feasta, Fossil Free TCD, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Irish Environment, Goal, Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Irish Climate and Health Alliance, Irish Heart Foundation, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Just Forests, Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC), Liberia Solidarity Group, Methodist Church of Ireland – Council of Social Responsibility, Mountmellick Environmental Group, National Youth Council of Ireland, Oxfam Ireland, Peoples’ Climate Ireland, Presentation Ireland, Self Help Africa, Tearfund Ireland, Trócaire, Union of Students in Ireland, VITA, VOICE, and Young Friends of the Earth.

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