Climate change and politics
Sir, – Your editorial states that “the Irish public is taking a lead on global warming” and that “candidates in the European and local elections are encountering outrage on doorsteps” over the issue (“Climate change and politics”, Editorial, May 21st). Your evidence for this is “a bounce in recent polls for the Green Party”.
These comments lack all sense of perspective.
First, the Green Party rose to 7 per cent in your recent opinion poll. This is marginally above the level the Labour Party has been at for the last number of years, causing columnists in newspapers to speculate that the party may be on the brink of oblivion. It seems odd to suggest that a similar level of support for the Greens indicates some kind of oncoming electoral tsunami.
Second, the Green Party have actually achieved higher levels of support in the past, such as your poll in February 2007 which showed them at 8 per cent (February 1st, 2007). This result caused your newspaper to speculate that the general election which was due 12 weeks later would be a “climate change election”. (Sound familiar?). In fact, the Green Party emerged from that election with the same number of seats, and went on to lose all its seats in 2011.
Third, the general election in Australia last week strongly suggests that while climate change continues to be an obsession of the media, the reality is that voters are intensely suspicious of the doomsday rhetoric and extreme policy proposals that surround the issue. That election was also billed as a “climate change election”, but in fact the Green Party there got just 10 per cent of the vote, a reduction of their vote from the previous election in 2016, and the environmental policies of the opposition Labor Party have been held as a key reason for their shock defeat.
There is a substantial gap between the political and media rhetoric on this issue and the true feelings of voters. – Yours, etc,
THOMAS RYAN BL,
Sir, – It is rare to read such an obvious example of deliberate disinformation leading up to an election but the letter from Fine Gael current and prospective MEPs regarding supposed climate action takes the biscuit (Letters, May 22nd).
I would like to correct just a few of the outlandish statements made in the letter.
First, it was a Fianna Fáil amendment that ensured a declaration of climate and biodiversity emergency. This was made in the context of the Dáil’s endorsement of a landmark report of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action which stemmed from the significant work of the Citizens’ Assembly in 2017.
Second, climate action has definitely not been a priority for this Fine Gael Government. The Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly highlighted the risks of increasing emissions in the transport and agriculture sectors. However, Fine Gael has wilfully ignored Ireland’s deteriorating climate record (and resulting EU fines) for years. Its 2017 mitigation plan was widely criticised by national and international authorities as being entirely inadequate.
Third, Fine Gael MEPs may have “accused” themselves “of being too pragmatic, too focused on the broader picture and on a sustainable solution”, but no one else has.
Ireland is ranked as among the worst in Europe for climate action and is recognised as a climate laggard, indeed by the Taoiseach himself.
Finally, the contention that Fine Gael and the European People’s Party (EPP) have done more to tackle the climate breakdown at EU level is disingenuous.
Just two months ago the EPP and its Fine Gael MEPs voted against an increase to the EU’s 2030 target while the Government has refused to support greater EU ambition in the European Council.
Most recently, Climate Action Network ranked the European People’s Party in second-last place, emphasising that the group has “shown a complete lack of support for climate action”.
Instead of looking at Fine Gael’s “bigger picture”, I welcome anyone with a broadband connection to quickly look online and learn more about the reality of Fine Gael’s disastrous record on runaway climate change. – Yours, etc,
TIMMY DOOLEY TD,
Fianna Fáil Spokesman
on Climate Actions
Leinster House, Dublin 2.
Sir, – I had reached the same conclusion as Fintan O’Toole (“Vote on Friday for the survival of the species”, Opinion & Analysis, May 21st).
The Green Party have been working valiantly for many years to promote action on climate change. These people are committed. It is frankly a little bit sickening to hear the lip-service now being paid to the Green agenda by the mainstream parties, which ignored the issues staring them in the face for so long.
I trust no one now other than the Greens to deliver on this most important of issues. – Yours, etc,
Blackrock, Co Dublin.
Sir, – It is vital that we make a statement of our support for the EU in this country by coming out in force and recording a high turnout rate. Traditionally, European elections garner low support and low turnout in Ireland, with an astonishingly low rate of 42.6 per cent in 2014.
Polling repeatedly indicates support for Ireland’s membership of the EU at north of 90 per cent, so let us prove that this is the case when it matters, by voting in the European election. I urge every single person to exercise their right to vote today. – Yours, etc,
Claregalway, Co Galway.