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#PalestinianTerritories could be make or break for new Irish government



Four months on from the Irish general election, political parties are slowly edging towards a deal that is likely to see a three-party coalition take office. However, a number of sensitive and costly issues remain to be resolved and one of them could affect Ireland’s relationship with Israel, as Ken Murray reports from Dublin.

8 February may feel like a long time ago but four months on from the general election, Irish people are still waiting for the change of government they voted for.

Bit by bit, the three players on the pitch, Fianna Fáil, the Greens and the governing Fine Gael party led by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, are working their way through their respective shopping lists as they slowly head towards the finishing line.

But as they slowly tick off the items they can do business on to establish a programme for government, failure to get agreement on a number of looming matters could determine if a government is in place in the coming weeks or else, a second election will be unavoidable.

One of those looming matters is support by Micheál Martin’s Fianna Fail party and the Greens for the Occupied Territories Bill 2018, which was passed in the Irish Senate two years ago but failed to get adequate support in the lower house, The Dáil.

The objective of the Bill is to ban the import of products manufactured or sourced from Palestinian territory that is deemed by observers to be occupied illegally by Israel.

Speaking to Irish Legal News, the government’s Attorney General Seamus Woulfe said: “It would be impractical to draft legislation banning the importation of goods from illegally occupied settlements,” suggesting that the Fine Gael position is not for turning.

The Greens are keen to re-visit the Bill but Leo Varadkar’s ruling Fine Gael is opposed to it citing the possibility of damaged relations with Israel and the Trump administration.

Unless somebody caves in or is prepared to accept a fudge on the matter, the ongoing talks could hit an inflexible dead end over this controversial proposal!

As it stands, the support of 80 TDs is required for an overall majority and with Fianna Fáil (37), Fine Gael (35) and the Greens with 12 seats taking the total to 84, a number of other sticking points have become difficult to secure agreement on.

The Greens are insisting in the talks that a reduction in carbon emissions of 7% per year until 2030 is a red line, a demand that is meeting resistance with the agricultural community where Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael receive most of their respective support.

“There's no value in going to the [Green] membership with any proposed programme for government without that,” explained a party source to The Irish Examiner last week.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are also at odds over plans to increase the official retirement age from 65 to 67 while the Greens are determined to bring an end to the controversial practice known as Direct Provision, the process where immigrants who say they are refugees, are housed, many for several years, until their applications are corroborated.

In the meantime, state revenues have all but collapsed due to the COVID-19 pandemic suggesting that whoever enters office will have to enforce unpopular fiscal measures in order for the government to pay its bills.

All this before agreement is reached on a possible rotating Taoiseach system whereby Micheál Martin will lead the country for 12 months followed by Leo Varadkar and so on until 2025.

If all that wasn’t enough to contend with, the old enemies of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as well as the Greens will have to hold special delegate conferences where the votes of circumspect respective members could stymie the creation of a new Administration!

Meanwhile the left-wing Sinn Féin, which, surprisingly, secured 37 seats in the Election, is anxiously looking on from the side lines knowing that if a second Poll is called, it is likely to emerge as thee most popular Party in the Country!

The picture should be clearer in the coming two weeks!

Climate change

Credible net-zero targets need to include explicit plans for Carbon Dioxide Removals



Limiting global warming to 1.5°C, as stated in the Paris Agreement and assessed by the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C (2018), will require policy action across two types of mitigation: those resulting in the rapid reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and those achieving removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, current governmental commitments to address climate change lack specific plans for mobilizing carbon dioxide removal to achieve the required carbon neutrality – namely a balance between emissions and removals – and collaborative policy frameworks under the Paris Agreement are not yet specific enough on how to measure and fund such mitigation action.

To contribute to understanding of how countries can implement Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and how those efforts can be counted as part of their national commitments to achieve the Paris Agreement targets, the NET-RAPIDO project is launching the report Net-Zero Emissions: the role of Carbon Dioxide Removal in the Paris Agreement.

The authors – Matthias Honegger, Axel Michaelowa and Matthias Poralla from Perspectives Climate Research – present a set of concrete recommendations for credibly including CDR strategies as part of national climate strategies and revised NDCs. These include: the setting of specific CDR targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050; the expansion of research on the consequences of CDR for climate targets, a structured and inclusive debate on its development, and the design of specific incentives for the prioritized CDR technologies.

While the current lack of specific CDR measures may be due to the perception that they are costly or unpopular, together with fear of potential environmental side effects and difficulty in making carbon reduction attractive for industry, the authors find that the Paris Agreement’s provisions for international collaboration can be operationalized to provide a credible way forward. To comprehensively address CDR in the Paris Agreement, using existing instruments, the report suggests the use of cooperation mechanisms between countries to leverage carbon markets and results-based climate finance, and strengthening monitoring, review and verification (MRV) to mobilize CDR domestically and abroad in a transparent and consistent manner.

Examining the Paris Agreement’s definition of mitigation, the authors find that countries’ national climate contribution should be underpinned by transparent CDR deployment strategies, plans and policies. They find that, as with emission reductions measures, most CDR approaches will require effective financial incentives or regulation via government action both at national levels and at the global scale.

Limited acceptance and familiarity among civil society, as well as lacking clarity across international governance spheres relevant to CDR may presently be holding back progress on CDR. Minor adjustments and clarifications regarding pertinent provisions (under the UNCBD, the LC/LP, by UNFAO, IMO, UNEP, and others), may allow unlocking permissible and necessary activities.

Dr Axel Michaelowa, Perspectives’ senior founding partner, said: “Despite their long-term nature, net-zero targets pose tangible and immediate technical policy challenges, which require closer attention. We can learn from past climate policy instruments such as the CDM for building opportunities to address and resolve net zero targets issues for domestic and international implementation and collaboration.”

Matthias Honegger, lead author and Senior Consultant at Perspectives, said: “Society urgently needs to start developing a vision of a net-zero emissions future in order to identify critical steps and deliberately start moving in a direction that would be compatible with achieving the transformation required to get there. He mentioned that the policy planning process needed “an infusion of enthusiasm while defining pragmatic intermediate steps to ensure progress.”

Matthias Poralla, author and Junior Consultant at Perspectives, said: “Concerns over the sustainability and social desirability of negative emissions require early and careful deliberation processes for policy to earnestly and credibly address risks and sustainability concerns thus allowing for viable policy pathways.”


NET-RAPIDO is a project implemented between 2018 and 2021 by Mälardalen University, Perspectives Climate Research and Climate Strategies, aiming to research on readiness, policy instrument designs, options for governance and dialogue aims to create a clear understanding of the opportunities, challenges and risks of negative emission technologies (NETs). The project is funded by the Swedish Energy Agency. Find out more here.

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Irish mortgages arrears steady as COVID-19 payment breaks near end



The number of Irish homeowners in arrears for more than 90 days was steady at 5.6% at the end of June, data showed on Monday (28 September) as repayment breaks aimed at keeping mortgage holders from falling into arrears due to the COVID-19 crisis begin to come to an end, writes Padraic Halpin.

Irish banks provided 89,000 repayment breaks of up to six months since March, 43,000 of which were still in place last month. Just over 41,000 customers were classified as being in arrears over 90 days at the end of June, Monday’s central bank data showed.

Most of the accounts in arrears date back to the financial crisis a decade ago, with 9,591 accounts overdue by between 2 and 5 years, 11,936 in arrears by between 5 and 10 years and 4,701 behind in their payments for more than 10 years.

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France has no plan to order a new coronavirus lockdown: minister




France’s government has no plan to order a new nationwide lockdown to contain a resurgence in coronavirus cases in the country, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday (28 September), writes Dominique Vidalon.

Le Maire was speaking at a news conference after a cabinet meeting.

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