Sinn Féin stands for change – except when it comes to the climate


Sinn Féin claims to be all about change, except when it comes to the climate. As parts of Europe literally burn with record temperatures and wildfires taking hold, Mary Lou McDonald’s party has no opinion on what the agricultural sector, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases that country’s greenhouse, should be asked to do as part of a broader program to reduce carbon emissions. reduction targets.

This is the party that last week was apparently prepared to force an election with a vote of no confidence and enter government.

As coalition partners argue over whether farmers should be asked to cut carbon emissions from the upper 30 per cent target or bring the reduction closer to the lower 22 per cent limit, the Sinn spokesman Feast for the Climate, Darren O’Rourke, has confirmed that his party has no position on the controversial but critically important issue.

Sinn Féin climate spokesman Darren O’Rourke said the party was “not able” to identify how much agriculture needed to reduce its carbon emissions. File photo: Damien Storan

“We are not able to identify where between 22% and 30% this agriculture should be, or where any other ranges relative to other sectors should be,” he said.

Mr O’Rourke said the party ‘is not avoiding a position on this’. Instead, he argued that the government had not given him the chance to take a strong stance because projections made by various ministries had not been shared.

He strenuously denied that Sinn Féin lacks detail or ambition on climate change.

But of course this is not the first time that Sinn Féin has remained conveniently silent on what is one of the biggest challenges facing the world – the housing crisis and health problems are just small fish in relation to what needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions in all sectors of the economy.

During a 15-minute speech in the Dáil ahead of the vote of confidence last week, Ms McDonald took aim at the government for its poor record on housing and health care, and lashed out at measures to protect people from the skyrocketing cost of living. But the existential climate and biodiversity crisis has not been mentioned once.

Sinn Féin chairwoman Mary Lou McDonald made no mention of climate change during her 15-minute speech to the Dáil ahead of her party's no-confidence motion.  File Photo: Brian Lawless
Sinn Féin chairwoman Mary Lou McDonald made no mention of climate change during her 15-minute speech to the Dáil ahead of her party’s no-confidence motion. File Photo: Brian Lawless

It’s a point that has been echoed not only by the government but also by other opposition parties, with Labor leader Ivana Bacik saying it was a “strange omission not to include anything on the climate”.

It’s clear that Sinn Féin’s climate policy is hazy at best, and almost non-existent if you view it with less sympathy.

Richard Bruton – former minister for communications, climate action and the environment – didn’t mince words last week when he claimed Sinn Féin was the party of climate inaction without a vision or coherent policies on one of the greatest challenges of our time.

“Their inconsistency is hardly surprising coming from a populist party that continually comes up with half-baked, uncosted solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the country,” Bruton said. “All they want are sound bites and simple solutions.

“The party says it is committed to climate justice and a just transition for Ireland, but cannot say how it will do this or pay for it.”

Sinn Féin last published an updated climate policy in November 2019 – its 20-page climate justice and just transition document.

In the meantime, the party has released 10 policy papers related to health and seven policy papers on the housing issue.

The 2019 climate document states that “movement towards environmental sustainability must be inclusive and democratic. We can’t have just any transition for workers and communities, we have to have a just transition. Fine Gael promises first; Sinn Féin will only accept the latter.

No one, except perhaps Fine Gael, would dispute that statement. But what does that mean exactly?

Sweeping statements about the need to prioritize public transport, renewable energy, food security and a just transition might be eye-catching bullet points in a glossy political brochure, but they provide absolutely nothing by way of overview of how Sinn Féin will actually achieve specific carbon reductions. emissions in agriculture, transport, energy and business by 2030.

In a paragraph that could be inserted into a policy on financial and trade sector reform, the document states that “we cannot allow corporate interests to impose false solutions and misleading definitions on us.”

It’s 20 pages that say little.

What we do know is that Sinn Féin is adamantly opposed to carbon taxes. He opposed the Oireachtas 2019 cross-party climate action plan report, citing proposals for carbon taxes as his main objection.

More recently, members, including Ms. McDonald, have spoken out against the proposed inadmissibility. They also want to change the current government measures that grant subsidies for modernization to a more means-based payment.

The party called on the government to replace the current subsidy for electric vehicles, which only applies to new cars, with a subsidy for used electric vehicles.

But this is all just tinkering around the edges of a global emergency that we must now step up and play our part in addressing.

Last year the Taoiseach told Ms McDonald: ‘It’s time you came out of the fence on climate change. Because you’ve had a one-sided bet every week, every month in this house for several years on the climate issue.

The world has gone far beyond a simple bet on the climate; lofty notions and sweeping statements about a just transition are no longer enough.

Did you know?

The Irish Sign Language (ISL) team at Oireachtas and the Center for Deaf Studies at Trinity College Dublin have worked together over the past year to develop a comprehensive ISL glossary of parliamentary terms. Over 80 terms have been defined, some signs are already in use within the deaf community and some are completely new.

The glossary includes signs for terms such as ‘no-deal Brexit’, ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘overt’.

All ISL users have now been invited to review the glossary, which can be found on the Oireachtas website, and submit their comments anonymously.

This week in years past


July 20: Apollo 11 landed on the moon. As part of its front page coverage, The Cork Examiner reported that Buzz Aldrin brought a piece of communion bread with him “to symbolize communion with his home church on earth”.


July 18: Under the headline “Bishops Condemn Condom Law”, it was reported that the Catholic hierarchy had strongly opposed legislation to make contraceptives more widely available and said that “casual sexual behavior and promiscuity are always reprehensible”.


July 27: The Examiner revealed that developer Owen O’Callaghan had personally contacted Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Environment Minister Noel Dempsey over crucial planning rules that would see the size of supermarkets capped. The following day, a ministerial decree on this subject was amended.


July 24: As Boris Johnson prepares to take office as British Prime Minister, opposition leaders in the Dáil say his election raises “huge fears for Ireland”. However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he wanted to hear what the new Tory leader had to say about how he intended to avoid a hard Brexit.

What to expect this week


The Taoiseach is in Tokyo, where he will meet with politicians, business people and members of the Irish diaspora. Micheál Martin will also meet with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida to discuss the long-standing and well-established political and economic relationship between Ireland and Japan and to explore opportunities to take relations and trade to a new, higher level. .

Ministers Eamon Ryan and Charlie McConalogue, who are currently engaged in talks on carbon reduction targets, will both attend the Energy in Agriculture conference in Co Tipperary.


The Agriculture Committee will spend the day discussing the calculation of methane emissions in the agricultural sector with a number of experts, including academics from the University of Oxford, the University of California and the Imperial College London.

Peter Thorne, Director of the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Group (Icarus) will also participate in the session. In the afternoon, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Communications will brief the committee.


Eamon Ryan will launch Zero Emission Vehicles Ireland (Zevi), a new office set up by the Department for Transport to coordinate and provide the policy pathway for low emission vehicles.

In Singapore, the Taoiseach will meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong. He will also meet a number of Irish companies operating in Singapore, engage with the Irish community and visit the Changi Chapel and Museum.

It is the first visit to Japan by a Taoiseach since 2013 and the first to Singapore since 2004.

Back home, the Oireachtas mental health subcommittee will meet privately.


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