Climate change – playing the blame game?
Sir, – Minister for Climate Action and the Environment Denis Naughten’s piece “Our failure to hit greenhouse gas targets reflects unrealistic goals set in 2009” (Opinion & Analysis, April 14th), on the Draft National Mitigation Plan, is not only disappointing and worrying, it is yet another example of the current Government playing the blame game and evading its responsibilities.
While the body of evidence on the economic, social and environmental impacts of climate change grows, politicians continue to throw down lacklustre excuses to delay and weaken their efforts.
Rather than accepting the reality of Ireland’s responsibility towards collective efforts on climate change, Mr Naughten argues that the targets set out are too ambitious. I can assure you that “ambition” is the last word I would use to describe Ireland’s climate targets. Especially when you consider the size of Ireland’s emissions per capita, coupled with the huge potential that exists on our island to cut them.
The failure of the Government to meet its targets adds a further blow to our reputation among our European and international counterparts, not to mention the fines that Ireland will face. Our Government’s stance is more than just passive and apathetic; it repeatedly pursues policies which we know will lock-in decades of unnecessary emissions. Rather than acknowledging this, Mr Naughten fixates on the difficulty of transforming our economy while neglecting to describe any of the impacts or damage that will hit our country if we do not make such a transformation.
His piece leads the reader to think that effective and clear action on climate change comes at the detriment of our economy. The European Commission has found that the EU’s GDP has in no way suffered from its climate targets. On the contrary, failing to adopt and implement more decisive policies on climate change puts economies, investors and communities at much greater risk.
Mr Naughten should consider the lessons learned from not meeting our current targets, build on the experience and expertise that our European counterparts can share, and set out a clear longer-term vision for how our economy and society will run in 2050. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – Harry McGee’s report on Ireland’s progress towards 2020 EU emissions targets (“Ireland closer to Trump on climate change than it thinks”, Analysis, April 15th) was most enlightening. However, I would plead for caution when he talks about “climate change obligations imposed on the State by the EU”. As with all EU law, these were proposed by the European Commission, which we elect through parliamentary democracy every five years; discussed intricately by the Council of the European Union, representing national governments, and by the European Parliament; and finally voted on by both these bodies. The Irish government voluntarily accepted and helped shape these targets, and in fact – rightly, in my opinion – pushed for these targets to be as ambitious as possible. This is the total opposite of an imposition: it is a stellar example of democratic governments achieving together what they could never co-ordinate apart. – Is mise,