Tullamore woman, Fiona O’Malley, who is part of the Climate Case Ireland group, is calling on the gGovernment to form a Citizens’ Assembly on biodiversity emergency before the Dáil recess on the 16th July.
O’Malley, with the Climate Case Ireland group, delivered an open letter to the Department of Communication, Climate Action, and the Environment, calling upon Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party to announce the date for a Citizens’ Assembly and also called for the Assembly’s agenda to include the possible recognition of a Constitutional right to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, and the principles of a Just Transition.
Friends of the Irish Environment made international headlines when they won their historic legal case ‘Climate Case Ireland’ against the Government in July 2020, becoming only the second case in the world in which a Government’s overall level of mitigation ambition was successfully challenged in court.
Campaigners behind Climate Case Ireland are now calling on Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party, to follow through on the promise it made more than two years ago. On 9th May 2019, the Dáil declared a climate and biodiversity emergency and called for the Citizens’ Assembly to examine how the State can improve its response to the issue of biodiversity loss.
In the Programme for Government agreed in June 2020, the Government Parties committed to “progress the establishment of a Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity,” but so far, no visible progress has been made.
In March 2021, Ireland – alongside 68 other countries – submitted a statement to the UN Human Rights Council stating that “a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is integral to the full enjoyment of human rights.”
In their open letter, Climate Case Ireland call upon the Government to:
Treat this like a real emergency and announce the date for the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity Loss before 16th July 2021 (the beginning of the Dáil’s summer recess);
Ensure that the following points are included on the Citizens’ Assembly’s agenda when it considers biodiversity loss:
The possible recognition of a constitutional right to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment; and
the principles of a Just Transition to ensure that action taken to address the biodiversity crisis is consistent with these principles.
“The Dáil declared a climate and biodiversity emergency more than two years ago and promised to convene a Citizens’ Assembly to examine how the State should respond to the biodiversity crisis.” Fiona O’Malley said, “It now needs to follow through on this promise and announce a date for the Citizens’ Assembly before Dáil recess on July 16th. The Citizens’ Assembly should be tasked with discussing possible recognition of a Constitutional right to safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Over the past 15 years, the amount of heat the planet traps has roughly doubled since 2005, contributing to more rapidly warming oceans, air and land.
“Amongst the thousands of negative impacts of climate change, the World Health Organization has estimated that about 250,000 additional people will die as a result of climate change each year from 2030 to 2050. This is a problem we are facing now, not tomorrow, now. The impacts of climate change are being and will be felt in our time, and they can be counted in millions of unnecessary and preventable deaths.
“According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual air quality report for 2019, air pollution caused 1,300 premature deaths in Ireland last year – up from 1,180 in 2018.” Fiona said, “To put that into perspective, the 2019 figure is almost ten times the death toll of 141 on Irish roads last year. Climate change is a monstrous crisis to tackle but whilst the clock is ticking, we still have time to fix this, but time is of the essence. We cannot sit by and do nothing because indecision is, in itself, a decision. We need the government to announce the date for the Citizens’ Assembly on Biodiversity before the Dáil recess on the 16th July.”