‘I’m so frustrated action wasn’t taken sooner’: Readers on new climate budgets

Irish Times readers’ views on proposed new carbon budgets likely to change how we live

‘We need more diverse and new alternative energy sources including tidal, hydroelectric and maybe even nuclear, not just more windmills’

‘We need more diverse and new alternative energy sources including tidal, hydroelectric and maybe even nuclear, not just more windmills’

 

We asked to hear your views on the proposed new carbon budgets which, the Government says, will change how people live and work. The proposed budgets, published by the Climate Change Advisory Council, will apply to every sector of the economy and will outline a limit for total emissions that can be released.

Here are some of the responses we received...

This simply has to happen. Ireland has dragged its feet for too long. Philip Magnier

I am delighted with these carbon budgets, while at the same time I think they will be painful enough. I hope there is really good planning for communities and workers who will be affected by changes. The fact is though we (the Irish, but also we humankind) should have been making these changes decades ago. Had we done that it would be less painful. The next best time to make these changes is right now. Ireland is a small player in terms of carbon output, but we are wealthy, and our per capita output is high. We have a moral obligation to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but it also makes sense for countries to compete to become leaders in green technologies and low carbon policies. Brían Ó Donnchadha

Yes, I support the budget. But we are great at making plans and lousy at implementing them. As Greta says enough blah blah blah blah! We need action and l don’t think Eamon Ryan is committed enough to see this plan through. Sure wasn’t the party great while it lasted. RIP planet earth. Alan Carr

Ireland’s changes will not make the slightest difference to global warming until the United States, China and other large polluting countries change their ways

I feel that the impact this will have economically upon the nation and the average person (especially rural communities) will be far too severe and it will be felt immediately. I think world climate policy should target its attention upon the largest economies which are the largest net carbon contributors first. Why does Ireland, which contributes but a drop in the carbon ocean, get disproportionately effected far faster? I wholeheartedly disagree with the speed of Irish and EU carbon budgets. David O’Duffy

They are reasonable targets, though I would have prepared more ambitious ones. The real question is whether they will be honoured or if sectors will look for loopholes or show blatant disregard. All our futures are at stake. Brian McArdle

Ireland’s changes will not make the slightest difference to global warming until the United States, China and other large polluting countries change their ways. Mark Leach, Dublin

I recently moved to an apartment that is all electric for my retirement. I am seriously concerned that so much emphasis is being placed on wind energy at the same time as the winds are stilling, and the very real possibility that our emissions goals may plunge Ireland into energy poverty. We need more diverse and new alternative energy sources including tidal, hydroelectric and maybe even nuclear, not just more windmills. John Hoare

If we have any chance of meeting our emissions targets and doing our fair share to tackle climate change then this is a fundamental step on that journey

The goals set out in the carbon budgets are unlikely to be achieved by the current type of governance. The Minister for Transport has already shown his complete lack of ambition in relation to public transport by getting rid of a number of Expressway routes, which were vital services for rural villages and towns. Farmers are not being offered any kind of alternatives to help them to reduce their emissions but are left in a constant state of uncertainty about their future. Adequately addressing the climate emergency means not just quantitative change in reducing emissions, but genuine qualitative change in the system of governance, which would essentially mean requiring the wealthiest in society to contribute the most towards a just transition. That is not to say we will not get our house in order eventually. Conor Dowd, Galway city

It is absolute nonsense. Nothing more than a clever way to tax us! Julian Arnold

The climate crisis is real and a carbon budget is needed to establish a key metric as to how we as a nation are going to address it. However, my main concern is that vested interests will partake in endless whataboutery and point fingers at other sectors, as well as the leaders in the Dáil. This could lead to very little real action being taken, and thus relegate the carbon budget to another paper exercise. Christopher Cummins, Dublin

I support the carbon budget. If we have any chance of meeting our emissions targets and doing our fair share to tackle climate change then this is a fundamental step on that journey. There is no getting away from the fact that this will cause pain. There will be many voices who will try to sell the notion that we can continue with business as usual and postpone these changes until a future, undetermined time. Other voices will claim that since we are such a small country our emissions are insignificant on the global scale and therefore we don’t really need to make any changes. Both of these arguments are wrong and morally bankrupt. We can not postpone the time for serious action any longer given the seriousness and scale of the problems that we face, as outlined in the most recent IPCC report. This will require a global effort and as a wealthy developed nation Ireland should lead by example. Ray O’Connor

I think that it is ridiculous to fight against it. We have to make some changes. Things can’t stay as they are. And yes, it will cost everyone something. I drive a diesel car and I have an oil boiler in my house, but I accept I will have to change this, likely at a cost to my pocket. However, I do think the Government needs to get more creative with supporting people to transition. It can’t simply be increased carbon taxes, there should be stronger communication, grants and incentives to help the transition, particularly in the farming sector. There are ways in which farmers can reduce emissions, for example, the spreading of slurry using injectors is more effective and significantly reduces emissions. But that’s a costly piece of equipment and it is not fair to ask farmers to shoulder the cost of that. That is only one example but the Government needs to start thinking outside the box. Shane Walsh, Ireland

We need to apply the ecosystem approach as outlined in the Convention on Biological Diversity to farming and other sectors of the economy if we are to have any hope in meeting our emissions targets. John Duff, Cobh

I am delighted to see carbon budgets but they are not ambitious enough, especially with the amount of backloading planned

I certainly support the climate budget but as with much else in Ireland, the tough work is long-fingered. The annual 8.3 per cent reductions are for the next government to implement. That government is likely to contain fewer if any Greens. Irish people reject the principle of the “polluter pays” on water charges, reject paying tax to fund public transport, take High Court action to block cycle lanes. Bryan O’Donoghue, Dublin

I spent most of my working life involved with aviation and in the early days, when no one cared, it was probably the most air polluting business in the world bar perhaps shipping. There is still a future for aviation and also for shipping, but conjuring up percentage points that are obviously designed to push the hard decisions further into the future is not the way to tackle a very real and existential problem. Most of our political leadership is traumatised by the weight of the decisions that need to be made and, like deer caught in the headlights, they suggest too little and too late to appease corporate profits and taxes. Denis McClean

About 13 years ago in Ireland we had bio-ethanol-based E85 motor fuel available through Maxol. Maxol’s E85 was produced in Ireland from a waste product (permeate of whey) produced from the cheesemaking process by Carbery Group. In 2010 the excise derogation was removed by the government, effectively killing off E85 in this country. So an Irish home-produced renewable solution, which was produced from a waste product, was not deserving of government support. Why not? E85 is supported in France and is priced at 70 cent a litre. Carbon tax is a narrow option which only increases the cost of pollution. Offering a cheap green alternative should be the strategy. Aidan Hogarty

The carbon budget is a start, however, I feel we need to go much further to the very root of the climate issue: we live in a capitalist world which teaches us we are “homo economicus” – where life revolves around being a consumer, with a limitless supply, disconnected from the impacts of our choices. The indigenous peoples have much to teach the “progressive” world on how to live well, and in partnership with the earth. We are intimately interconnected and we cannot thrive unless our planet does too. Right now, humans mostly live as if we are separate and as if our actions have no impact, which has led to where we are today.

For me, inner transformation must go hand in hand with any external changes made. I call, therefore, for  “inner climate change” – a radical revisioning of who we are, how we live, and what truly matters. Aisling Richmond

I am delighted to see carbon budgets but they are not ambitious enough, especially with the amount of backloading planned. If it were 10, 20, 30 years ago, this may have been an acceptable gamble. I have lived through transformational change and it’s not the end of the world. Not implementing our climate budgets will be the end of the world as we know it. Regardless of what we do, life is going to change and we can either participate willingly in that change or be swept along as the ecosystem that supports us dies.

I live on an acre with an orchard, polytunnel, vegetable beds and grow firewood. This is not a lifestyle I aspired to but am quite comfortable and have come to appreciate that it’s necessary if we are to address the climate disaster. I would never have come to that realisation when I lived in my three-bed semi in Terenure, heading to the sun at every major school holiday and weekends in a country hotel. My life has changed dramatically since those days and now I am very accepting of where I am at. I was too preoccupied in city life to understand our precarious situation. It took me a long time to process the limits to growth, resource depletion and ecological collapse so I completely understand how alien they are to someone caught up and not focused on them. I was that person. Theresa O’Donohoe

I support the carbon budgets and am happy that we finally seem to be getting somewhere on climate action. The scale of the challenge is daunting and reading about what’s required of us now makes me so frustrated that action wasn’t taken sooner. Brian Donnelly, Dublin

I am very much in favour of the carbon budget. I am in my late 70s and have been aware of the impending climate crisis for at least 25 years. The information has been there but what has been lacking was any sort of political leadership – particularly in agriculture. In that area, there has been no effort to explain and to show the alternatives available to make a good living without destroying what is around us. I worry for my grandchildren. Frank Rafter

I bought an electric car last year, and have been playing my part, but it’s going to be a poor and cold Christmas as we budget the heating in our home

This is too little, too late – but better late than never. Let’s be practical first: we need to rein in industrial and corporate consumption. If a factory, farm, mine or a data centre consumes more fossil fuels than the electrical consumption of your town or city, then doing things on a personal responsibility basis is a tad arseways. Tony Phillips

I would have been happier if we were in a position to front-load the changes, but we aren’t. So the budget is possible and ambitious but the next step – specifying where the changes will be and how – will be the telling information. I am willing. I just wish our political leaders were as willing as I am. We all need to be able to imagine what is possible. Lots of support will be required. Jane Touhey

As a single-income family, with a newborn and a two-year-old child, I genuinely don’t think I can afford the heating oil this year. I am trying to sell items online to get the extra cash to help pay for heating oil which is the highest I have ever paid. I bought an electric car last year, and have been playing my part, but it’s going to be a poor and cold Christmas as we budget the heating in our home – and then there’s the electricity prices. The Government needs to do more for lower-income families. Nick Cassidy, Cork

The carbon budget is a set of numbers with no detail and without detail I can’t say how it’s going to impact upon our climate goals, much less upon me. As someone of middle age, I feel for our young activists and for the next generation who are continually let down by our Government and inaction.

Why aren’t there solar panels in all public buildings including schools? Why aren’t all commercial waste companies compelled to provide composting options to domestic users? Why have we allowed so many data centres without properly assessing the impact to our national grid? Why are these data centres allowed guzzle down our renewable energy and we end up having to use more fossil fuels and therefore pay more carbon tax for the use of energy? Why can’t homeowners using solar panels sell excess energy back to the grid? To me it seems the arguments for change will be forever outvoiced by the profiteers and money will forever trump the urgency for change. Marie Curran

We are a retired couple and over the last decade have channelled our savings into Ethical Sustainable Green pension funds, switched to the smallest hybrid car, eliminated red meat from our diet and prioritised vegetarian foods, replaced our oil heating with a heat pump and installed PV panels on the roof, grow summer salad veggies in the greenhouse and use public transport where practical. We are active in the climate justice movements. We are committed to paying more tax and reducing our carbon footprint.

We look at the future with dread for our children, in their old age, and for the quality of life for our grandchildren. Patricia Devlin

Essential. If the Government does it right. Alex James, Dublin