Carbon tax and climate change

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Sir, – Last week I listened to Mary Robinson issuing an impassioned plea to all of us, individuals and nations, to work together so that by 2050 our children and grandchildren would have found new ways of living together without the deep injustice of a world where the poorest have to bear the greatest burden of catastrophic climate change.

On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we have just 12 years to do something to prevent global warming rising above 1.5 degrees, leading to a huge worsening of drought, floods and extreme heat for the whole world and poverty for hundreds of millions of people in developing countries at a level never before envisaged.

On Tuesday, the Government brought in a budget which failed to increase by even a nominal amount our extremely low current level of carbon tax.

On Wednesday, I heard the normally impressive Paschal Donohoe resort to politicians’ gobbledegook to answer a listener’s question on RTÉ about why there had been no increase in this vital environmental tax.

On Thursday, Stephen Collins wrote that the Government had avoided increasing carbon tax because it was afraid of provoking opposition from groups like people driving diesel-powered cars with an election in the offing (Opinion & Analysis, October 11th).

Can I suggest a slogan for that election? A vote for Fine Gael is a vote for the destruction of the planet. – Yours, etc,

ANDY POLLAK,

Rathmines,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – There has been general agreement in Ireland with the call from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for governments to take “strong and immediate action” to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees. Their report rightly claims that this will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

It is unfortunate then, that the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Action is limiting itself to consideration only of renewable energy as the means to tackle climate change.

This is especially so when a recent report from the Irish Wind Energy Association confirms that, by allowing up to 90 per cent of our electricity to come from wind, our emissions would reduce by a totally inadequate 30 per cent compared to using fossil fuels.

This apparent paradox is well known in the energy industry but it leads to the unpopular conclusion that, to fully decarbonise energy, we need to have a significant portion of our energy from low-carbon options such as nuclear or carbon-capture plants, supplemented by renewables where appropriate.

Until we are prepared to consider such technologies, we remain unready to make the unprecedented changes required and will continue to fail our climate challenge. Nuclear energy, in particular, has now become more attractive to Ireland following design improvements that have lowered cost and size while further improving safety and waste management, and its merits should be considered as part our energy future.

Such consideration would be a powerful indication that Ireland is prepared to make the necessary far-reaching changes and truly become a global leader in tackling climate change. – Yours, etc,

DENIS DUFF,

Better Environment

with Nuclear Energy

Greystones,

Co Wicklow.

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