General Election 2020:
What do we need to be asking our candidates?
There are plenty of issues at stake in this General Election, but at Tearfund Ireland we are keenly aware of the global impact our vote can have. Ireland is an important global player, and the decisions we make can have real influence overseas.
As we know, the new decade will be a defining one for us and our planet, and the issue of climate breakdown cannot wait. As followers of Jesus we have a vital role to play. Through prayer, speaking up and living differently we are called to stand alongside our neighbours across the world in protecting God’s creation. This is part of our Christian faith, and in doing so we are taking part in Jesus’ kingdom work
Climate damage threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health and poverty reduction, and could push more than 120 million people into poverty by 2030, with an increase in floods and droughts and less reliable rains. World hunger has been increasing since 2016 for the first time this century.
As a wealthy country, Ireland has not experienced the devastating effects of climate change. The same cannot be said for the world’s poorest countries, where climate change is a persistent reality. Developing countries will bear an estimated 75% of the cost of the climate crisis, despite the fact that the poorest half of the world’s population is responsible for just 10% of historical carbon emissions.
If we fail to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the effects will be catastrophic around the world, particularly for the poor. With current national commitments we are expected to reach warming of 3 degrees. In other words, our governments’ policies pose a serious risk to their own citizens, people in other countries, and the natural world.
We must address climate change alongside the Sustainable Development Goals and human rights, in order to avoid exacerbating poverty and inequality.
Can you ask your candidates about their position on climate change, and what they’re planning to do about it? Read on to find out how…
Here are some questions to ask your political candidates:
- Question: What will you do to reduce our Greenhouse Gas emissions by 8% a year over the lifetime of the next Government?
Background: Ireland’s current plan is to reduce by 2% a year, but according to the United Nations, global average reduction needs to be 7.6% a year between now and 2030 in order to be in line with the Paris Agreement. Carbon budgets are a necessity to get us there, to limit our emissions over time.
- Question: What will you do to enable schools, clubs, parishes etc. to start their own renewable energy projects?
Background: Community-owned energy makes up 50% of all renewable energy in Germany. A similar programme could work in Ireland, but it needs to be accessible. You could ask your candidate if they can promise to put solar panels on all schools by 2025.
- Question: Will you promise not to issue any new licenses to look for fossil fuels in Irish waters?
Background: If we continue to search for fossil fuels now, we wouldn’t be able to use what is found for at least a decade. We need to make sure we’re not locked into a reliance on fossil energy any longer.
- Question: Will you promise not to import fracked gas from overseas?
Background: We banned the process of fracking in Ireland because of its impact on local communities. We must ensure we stand by this decision.
- Question: How will you make sure climate action does not exacerbate existing poverty and inequality?
Background: In order to provide support for vulnerable communities around the world directly impacted by climate change, we must continue to give our fair share in overseas aid.
-Ireland must commit to spending 0.7% of our Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance (ODA) by 2025. EU countries committed to this amount in 2005, and so far, only six countries have reached this target. Ireland is currently spending 0.4% of our income on ODA.
-Overseas aid assists developing countries in adapting to new technologies and becoming climate-resilient.
-We must also make sure our political representatives in Europe are working to ensure the EU budget is fully aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, to advance environmental sustainability, human rights, gender equality, and wellbeing.
- Question: Will you protect our biodiversity?
Background: When the Dail declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in May 2019, it voted to set up a Citizens’ Assembly on biodiversity loss. In addition, to protect habitats for wildlife and nature for our enjoyment, the budget cuts to the National Parks and Wildlife Service must be reversed.
- Question: How will you ensure affordable and accessible transport for all?
Background: Currently, one third of the transport budget is invested in public transport, cycling and walking. The Citizens’ Assembly recommends increasing this to two thirds. The UN recommends spending 20% of the transport budget on walking and cycling (we spend only 2%).
- Question: How will you deliver warmer homes for all, to help us reduce energy and save money?
Background: The Government must provide support, in the form of grants and low-cost finance, which should be available nationwide, to enable us to upgrade our homes’ energy efficiency.
Finally, you could ask your candidate to endorse the priorities identified by the Faster and Fairer Climate Action: One Planet,One Future’ Campaign, which you can find here.
‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.’
We have signed up to support the One Future Campaign, which you can read about HERE.
We also support The Wheel’s election campaign, which seeks to gain recognition for the important work of the charity sector in Ireland. You can read about their four campaign asks HERE.
Tearfund Ireland is member of Renew Our World.
 Alston, Philip. 2019. ‘Climate Change and Poverty: Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.’