The Green Party has warned that the climate change and biodiversity crises must be addressed with the same urgency as the COVID-19 outbreak if it is to join the next Government.
The party has this afternoon written to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil with seven key targets for any negotiation on forming a Government.
Among the list is a call for 20% of all transport spending to be set aside for cycling and walking, with two-thirds of the rest earmarked for public transport.
Speaking after the letter was published, party leader Eamon Ryan said it is not a list of red lines but rather an attempt to get “a real sense of what is going to come in any future Government.”
“The country is experiencing hard times right now and it can be difficult to see out the other side of it,” he said.
“But where we go to now as a country really matters. We need the next government to be one that delivers real change.
He said a ‘Green New Deal’ provides the best opportunity to get the country out of the immediate crisis and “set us on the right long-term path.”
“The COVID-19 crisis presents one of the greatest challenges in the history of the State,” he said. “But it is at this moment that we must look to the future and work together on a new common cause.”
"The Covid-19 crisis presents one of the greatest challenges in the history of the State. But it is at this moment that we must look to the future and work together on a new common cause," says Green Party leader @EamonRyan https://t.co/cGaS8s0plJ
— Green Party Ireland (@greenparty_ie) April 23, 2020
The letter includes 17 questions under seven main headings.
The party is calling for a clear commitment to an average annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 7%.
The party noted that this will require “enormous changes” to spending on transport, energy and agriculture.
Energy efficiency and generation
The party is calling for an ambitious programme of development for renewable energy infrastructure.
It is also calling for a commitment to end fossil fuel exploration and an end to investment in fossil fuel infrastructure – particularly gas importation terminals.
The party is calling for a major housing construction programme that focuses exclusively on providing social and affordable housing on public lands.
It said it believes it is essential that homes are built in the right places and calls for a ‘Town Centre First Policy’ to shorten commutes and revitalised town and city centres.
It is also calling for a deep retrofit programme to help homeowners improve energy efficiency.
The party wants a national dialogue on a new social contract involving all key stakeholders.
It is also calling for the Direct Provision system to be abolished and replaced with a not-for-profit model.
It said any Government involving the Green Party must “undertake radical and ambitious action on biodiversity loss and the collapse of our ecosystems.”
It said this will involve a new National Land Use Plan to overhaul the food we produce, the trees we plant and the areas we re-wild.
Quality of life
The party is calling on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to commit to earmarking 20% of all transport spending for cycling and walking.
Meanwhile, it wants two-thirds of the remainder to be set aside for public transport.
It is also calling for a Universal Basic Income trial within the lifetime of the Government and a revision of the National Development plan to focus on the new social contract and climate change.
The party wants an Oireachtas review of the State response to the COVID-19 crisis.
It is also urging the two parties to bring forward a clear costing of the framework document they published after their own negotiations.
The party ends the letter with a warning that the next ten years will be critical if we are to address the climate and biodiversity crises we are facing.
“We know that strong leadership is required in negotiating the unprecedented health challenge of the present and the consequent economic challenge that will follow in its aftermath,” it reads.
“The threat of climate change and biodiversity loss requires similar urgent action with the same commitment, cooperation and ambition as any undertaken during the Covid-19 health crisis.”
The party has asked Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to provide it with an individual response to each of its seven questions before any formal talks can begin.