AIR INDUSTRY AND GLOBAL WARMING
Madam, - One of the benefits of a debate on "climate change" is the extent to which it exposes how zealots like Ciarán Cuffe (July 18th) just invent facts to support their absurd claim that higher taxes will "save" our planet.
While I accept that "Green Party - Transport Spokesperson" is an oxymoron, it would be helpful if Ciarán Cuffe stopped making claims about "climate change" (our climate has always and will continue to "change") and refer more accurately to "global warming".
Like all of his fellow travellers, Mr Cuffe fails to explain exactly how increasing government taxation on air travel will address global warming.
Increasing taxation simply rewards the greatest polluters (our governments), who largely own the power generating industry (26 per cent of EU CO2 emissions) and whose primary contribution to air transport (less than 2 per cent of EU CO2) is to mismanage our Air Traffic Control network which adds some 20 per cent to flight times, fuel consumption and emissions.
As the explosion in car ownership (18 per cent of EU CO2) has demonstrated, increasing taxation is utterly ineffective at altering consumer behaviour.
Mr Cuffe criticises Ryanair's subsidised Dublin-Kerry service, while neatly omitting that we have consistently opposed these wasteful PSO subsidy schemes in Ireland. This PSO insanity should be ended today, but then it is Mr Cuffe and his party who are in Government and not me.
It is surprising that the Green Party welcomes emissions trading, which from 2012 will massively increase the taxation on flights on and off the island of Ireland, boost Government revenues, but will have no impact whatever on either emissions or global warming.
I have no doubt that the people of this island, and particularly our tourism industry, will be rolling around our dole offices laughing at Ciarán Cuffe's vision for "slow travel".
Only someone who is hopelessly out of touch with everyday reality, as Mr Cuffe who enjoys 22 weeks holidays a year from the Dáil, compared with the ordinary citizen who has 20 days holidays, could possibly recommend spending 36 hours and over €300 to get to Brussels and another 36 hours back.
For most people their leisure time is far more precious than Mr Cuffe's.
Mr Cuffe might forget that we tried attracting tourists to this country using the Holyhead boat for over 60 years, which is why we didn't have any tourism industry. One can only imagine the joy of non-Dublin residents being instructed by the Green Party to make their way to a CIÉ train station to connect with a ferry to Holyhead to get to Brussels via British Rail.
Even if this is an option for Brussels, how does Mr Cuffe suggest we travel to Madrid, Rome, Frankfurt, etc?
Perhaps we all get connecting trains to Brussels and take 48 hours to get there?
How does the Green Party encourage European visitors to travel to Ireland?
Perhaps they should congregate in a Belgian train station, spend 34 hours and over €300 taking trains, buses, ferries through the UK, just to visit the West?
"Slow" travel would quickly be replaced by "no" travel and no visitors.
The simple reality which neither Mr Cuffe nor his fellow travellers wish to confront is that air travel accounts for less than 2 per cent of our CO2 emissions, and is therefore neither the cause of, nor the "solution" to global warming (not climate change!)
Taxing air travel won't have any effect on climate change, in much the same way that taxing motor travel hasn't either.
Replacing Europe's power generating industry with nuclear power would of course transform the EU's emissions, but that would require the Greens and their fellow travellers to accept that they have been wrong for over 30 years in their opposition to nuclear power.
Finally, since Mr Cuffe has quoted the UK Tyndall Centre for Research, perhaps he'd offer an explanation of why the Tyndall Centre has confirmed that average global temperatures haven't risen at all over the past decade.
Who knows, maybe the advocates of global warming might just conceivably be wrong?
Now there's a thought for the Green's transport spokesman to ponder during his next slow train to nowhere. - Yours, etc,
MICHAEL O'LEARY, Chief Executive, Ryanair, Dublin Airport, Co Dublin.