Action plan to tackle climate crisis

 

Sir, – Richard More O’Farrell reminds us that Ireland is responsible for, at most, 0.0016 per cent of planetary greenhouse gas emissions (Letters, June 20th). He seems to cast doubt on whether making any efforts to adapt to climate breakdown is worthwhile in such a context, going so far as to suggest the whole thing might be a ruse by the Government to generate some new taxation streams.

The 2016 census states that the Irish population is 4,761,865. Therefore, my contribution to society represents a dwindlingly insignificant 0.000021 per cent.

Following Mr More O’Farrell’s logic, there is little reason why I should comply with laws about road safety, aspire to norms around civility and generosity, or even pay my taxes.

What difference can it make, except of course, that seeking and doing the right thing is the basis of all human flourishing, individual and collective.

Making the changes necessary to adapt to climate and ecosystem breakdown is not just about avoiding an imminent threat to life, but is an opportunity to transform our societies for the good of everyone.

This is why we need to hold the Government to account for the many promises contained in the Climate Action Plan. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN HARGADEN,

Jesuit Centre

for Faith and Justice,

Dublin 1.

Sir, – Electric cars are not good for the environment with our current electricity generation infrastructure.

Once again, the Government has not fully thought through its proposals.

Until electricity generation has progressed substantially toward full use of renewable energy sources, electric cars are not any more environmentally friendly than petrol and less so than diesel cars.

Electric cars must be charged from the electricity grid. In Ireland, the electricity generated from all sources feeds into the national grid.

One must assume that the system is run to maximise the use of the most efficient generation plants and those with the least amount of emissions first and the least efficient with the highest emissions (fossil-fuel burning stations), only when no other resource is available, for incremental loads.

Charging of electric car batteries falls into this category of incremental loads.

There are many factors which must be considered in calculating the overall efficiency of conversion of input energy to useful energy in any system. For fossil-fuel plants, the useful output to power a car will at best be similar to directly burning fuel in a petrol car engine – ie 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the input energy – and will probably be worse. Diesel engines have a better overall efficiency (typically 40 per cent) and are better than electric cars.

Therefore, the “no emission” advantage of electric cars is a myth. – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN MURPHY,

Sandycove, Co Dublin.

Sir, – The climate action plan is to be welcomed, particularly with regard to motor vehicles. However, the planned introduction of up to one million vehicles on our roads by 2030 may cause problems for those who are visually impaired or hard of hearing – and others may also be adversely affected. Consideration should be given to installing an audible warning device on all electric vehicles to warn pedestrians and cyclists of their impending approach. – Yours, etc,

IAN HASSELL,

Tralee,

Co Kerry.

Sir, – Minister for Transport Shane Ross at the launch of the Government’s Climate Action Plan said in relation to the transport sector that the policy is “to get people out of private cars because they are the biggest offenders for emissions”. Mr Ross should read the Environmental Protection Agency report, published in April 2018, Ireland’s Final Greenhouse Gas Emissions 1990-2016, which shows the transport sector responsible for 20 per cent of emissions and agriculture responsible for 32.3 per cent.

A scary soundbite by the Minister should as a minimum have some basis in fact. – Yours, etc,

DONAL

O’SULLIVAN,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.

A chara, – What we really need to address if we want to “save” the planet is the fact that the human population is growing exponentially.

It is odd, to put it mildly, to be very exercised about the emissions from each car of the future without appearing to be in the least concerned about how many cars there will be.

One can only presume that those who choose to ignore population trends do so on the basis that the poor, in global terms where large population growth is happening, can be relied on to do their bit by staying poor and will not be availing of air-conditioning, multiple electrical devices, skinny lattés, driverless cars, bottled water or flight travel any time soon.

In other words, assumptions are made by environmentalists that are totally in conflict with any enlightened view of human economic, political or social development but do serve to suppress per capita emissions through the reliable mechanism of mass misery.

There is a very difficult, brave and fraught conversation that needs to be had, presumably at UN level, as to where we are going with regards to our human population.

Pretending this issue does not exist, but rather if we all go vegan and get our energy from windmills everything will be fine, is an exercise in burying heads in the sand. – Is mise,

DAVE SLATER,

Kilkea,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – It looks like many Leaving Cert students will take another look at their career choices in the light of the Climate Action 2019 plan.

Endless opportunities will become available in the building trade, but beware of a future in boiler installation. – Yours, etc,

SHEILA

DEEGAN,

Dublin 3.