History was made in Ireland last night as the country became the second in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency.

The Fianna Fáil amendment to declare an emergency was tabled following an Oireachtas report on Climate Change, and was accepted by both sides of the Dáil without a vote.

An amendment calling for the Citizens’ Assembly to examine how Ireland can improve its response to biodiversity loss was also accepted by the Dáil.

However, the amendment to declare a Climate and Biodiversity emergency does not contain any detail about what this declaration will mean, and there are no strict requirements for the government to take action as a result of the vote. 

In a statement today following the historic result, the Green Party have called on the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to convene an emergency cabinet meeting to approve a number of measures to begin acting on core recommendations in the Oireachtas Climate report.

The declaration last night was a historic achievement for the Green Movement in Ireland. However, it will mean nothing if it is seen as just ‘gesture politics’.  The government has an atrocious record on climate so they now need to take immediate action and implement the core recommendations contained in the Oireachtas Climate report.

In the statement, the Green Party called on the government to stop drilling for fossil fuels and to put an end to peat extraction, to support sustainable transport, and to ban single use plastic as well as starting a deposit and return scheme for bottles.

Green Party Leader, Eamon Ryan said: “Our main political parties have an appalling track record on climate action both here and in Brussels. It is a national disgrace. Now is the moment to turn that around. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin are guilty of ‘all talk and no action’ on the environment.

“This needs to change. We need the Taoiseach call an emergency meeting of cabinet and to push through the key measures that are already before the Dáil and start to preparing for proper investment in nature protection and retrofitting.”

Green Party Deputy Leader Catherine Martin said: “We need to end this ‘gesture politics’ where political parties are talking constantly about climate change but when it comes do doing something in the Dáil they don’t show up. This declaration is an opportunity to turn things around, but we need action. We can turn Ireland from being a laggard on climate action to being a leader.

“In addition to the measures above we also need to see the speedy implementation of the recommendations of the Climate Action Committee report.”