A move to bring forward government’s zero carbon emissions target from 2050 to 2035 has been rejected by MHKs.
Lawrie Hooper (Lib Van, Ramsey) told the House of Keys that he wanted to set a more ambitious target.
Mr Hooper said the Covid pandemic had demonstrated that a ’specific, swift targeted’ response was possible in the face of a global threat - and questioned why the same could not be done for the climate emergency.
He said it was a real possibility that the island could be a world leader in achieving carbon neutrality. ’The public view is that we are too slow. It seems government is behind on this,’ he said.
But Environment Minister Geoffrey Boot said the government’s climate action plan was approved unanimously by Tynwald a year ago and the Climate Change Bill was ’ambitious in its scope’.
He said the 2050 target aligned with measures already in place in many other jurisdictions including the UK.
Mr Boot said: ’There has been a view expressed by a minority throughout the development of this bill that we could somehow easily achieve an earlier date.’
He said this view has not been supported during debates in Tynwald or by Professor James Curran, who was appointed to lead the government’s action plan.
Quoting Professor Curran, he said the 2035 target could require ’significant and ever-increasing spending on international off-setting as the cost per tonne of carbon will climb’.
He said it will take time for people to invest in new vehicles and heating systems and to transition to green and future proof jobs - and to force change too quickly would impact those least able to afford and adapt to it.
Professor Curran said he was concerned there could be significant public resistance.
He said there was also a risk of investing too early in expensive technology.
Mr Hooper’s amendment was rejected by seven votes to 17.
The Climate Change Bill passed its clauses stage.
After the debate, Douglas Council Labour Party member Devon Watson said he was ’angry but not particularly surprised’ by the Keys’ vote.
He said the decision not to move to a target date of 2035 was ’directly against the scientific advice of the IPCC’ and will ’guarantee we have less ambitious targets than nations with considerably fewer resources and opportunities to tackle this crisis’.
Councillor Watson said: ’Most MHKs did not participate in the discussion. ’This means that the majority of the island was not represented in the most important discussion of our generation.
He said democratic oversight had been trampled on by the notion of collective responsibility with the Council of Ministers enjoying 12 guaranteed votes.
Mr Watson added that the results of the climate change consultation were not reflected in the bill and there was no indication that public transport, fuel poverty, the biosphere or a just transition will be substantially improved in line with the wishes of the public.