Belfast Telegraph

Climate change measures urged to end 'decade of dithering and delay'

A green tax on farming and an end to state subsides on peat extraction are among measures to tackle climate changes recommended by the Citizens' Assembly.

Prioritising investment in public transport services over new road developments and an expansion of bus and cycle lane networks have also been proposed by members of the Assembly.

A majority of citizens backed paying more tax on carbon intensive activities and urged the adoption of steps to encourage broader use of electric cars.

The proposals were among 13 recommendations on climate change made by the Assembly on Sunday.

An end to state subsidies for peat extraction would likely usher the end of peat fired electricity production in Ireland. The Assembly recommended that subsidies should be phased out over five years rather than axed immediately.

Members said the money should instead be spent on peat bog restoration and support for impacted workers.

Citizens also recommended a tax on green house gas emissions produced by the agriculture industry. They also proposed incentives for farmers who adopt environmentally friendly practices.

The Assembly's function is to consider key issues facing the Irish state.

It compromises 99 citizens randomly selected to be representative of society under the chair of retired Supreme Court judge Ms Justice Mary Laffoy.

The body spent the weekend hearing evidence on climate change from a range of experts. It was the second weekend the Assembly had examined the issue.

The recommendations will form the basis of a report that will be submitted to the Houses of the Oireachtas for further debate by politicians.

Environmentalists have welcomed the outcome of the Assembly's deliberations.

Oisin Coghlan, director at Friends of the Earth, said: "These common-sense, practical recommendations for climate action will not get us from laggard to leader.

"But they will allow us to catch up with our European neighbours. If implemented by Government they will end nearly a decade of dithering and delay".

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