Climate crisis and political action


Sir, – Shana Cohen’s vision for a clean and green Ireland in her rebuke of the current approach that politicians are taking to combat climate change is in fact (using her own words) “unrealistic” and “too progressive” (“Time to stop seeing climate action through the lens of economics”, Opinion & Analysis, July 31st).

Perhaps in the echo-chamber of green politics such ambition is widely celebrated, but democratic politics does actually include the public at large, who on balance do not wish to be told the only way to avert “doom” is to fundamentally change many aspects of their lifestyles – and in the opinion of many, who understandably want a better life for themselves and future generation, this change would be in the wrong direction.

There is a risk that climate idealists will insist on nothing less than what they see as perfection (which conveniently doubles up with many progressive ideas) in the fight against climate change, and in doing so will turn many people off the cause.

We should instead use the more piecemeal approach, to allow social attitudes and consumer behaviour to change (naturally, not via coercion) and new technology to ensure people do not have to alter their preferred lifestyles root and branch (for example, why should short-haul flights be banned, if we can fly carbon free, unless driven by ideology?)

When it comes to tackling climate change, we cannot allow perfection to be the enemy of success, because then everyone loses. – Yours, etc,