The Fianna Fáil leader has accused Fine Gael of showing “no ambition” in relation to climate change during its years in Government.
Ireland will face yearly fines running into the hundreds of millions from next year for failing to meet its 2020 emission reduction commitments.
On the latest leader’s edition of ‘Your Call’ on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Micheál Martin said Fine Gael is to blame for the fines.
“The reason we are going to have to pay fines is because, to be frank with you, the last Fine-Gael-led two Governments took their eye off the ball for the last seven of eight years in relation to climate change,” he said.
“A climate action plan was published just before the election but there is no track record from the previous Government on this.
“They have said that the Fianna Fáil/Green Government was too ambitious in relation to climate change. They spent the first three years after 2011 complaining about the Fianna Fáil/Green Government’s ambitious objectives in relation to climate change.
“That is why we are a laggard now, to use the Taoiseach’s own words, in terms of reaching our climate change goals.”
— Newstalk (@NewstalkFM) January 24, 2020
He said Fianna Fáil would use funds from the carbon tax to fund a new national retrofit programme to help people make their homes more energy-efficient.
He said the party is committed to increasing the carbon tax and said the money should be legally ring-fenced to tackle fuel poverty, ensure a just transition and fund green initiatives.
“We have to honest with people, we cannot and will not meet our climate change targets if we don’t have ring-fenced funding to fund all of that,” he said.
“As a nation, we have to get serious about this [...] the situation is becoming more and more worrying in terms of the survival of the planet itself and particularly in terms of our bio-diversity. We have to get serious on this.”
The Government published its Climate Action Plan last year.
Mr Martin also addressed the subject of Irish unity during his appearance on the show.
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) January 24, 2020
He explained: "My commitment is very clear, but my commitment isn't a threatening type of commitment to a large section of the community on the island who need to be persuaded and who need to be worked with.
"I think that's why I did oppose a border poll that was put forward by Sinn Féin just as soon as Brexit happened because I think that was done in a threatening and divisive way."