Climate emergency and elections

 

Sir, – The outcome of elections for the European Parliament is a heartening reminder of Ireland’s commitment to positive action in the face of the world’s greatest challenges. The momentum for climate action, which has been fuelled by the country’s youth in particular, has resonated clearly with the Irish electorate.

Ireland’s leadership and new MEPs must now channel this emphatically into tangible results on the international stage, as well as implementing policies domestically that will take Ireland from laggard to leader in climate action.

Irish society will benefit significantly from this effort, but it is far more urgently needed for those in the Global South for whom climate change is not a looming threat, but a very immediate reality. Climate change is here now and is already causing suffering and death.

It is those who have contributed least to climate crises – the poorest and most vulnerable communities – particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, that are being hit first and hardest.

Concern is already seeing this in the communities we work with and the increasing frequency and scale of the emergencies we respond to. The magnitude of Cyclone Idai, for example, which devastated southeast Africa this year, was dramatically increased by warming temperatures over the Indian Ocean.

Climate change is a terrifying global existential threat, but it is also a uniquely global challenge; one that can positively unify us at a time of political fragmentation. The outcome of this year’s elections is a very welcome show of solidarity with those in the Global South for whom the stakes are tragically far higher. – Yours, etc,

DOMINIC MacSORLEY,

Chief Executive,

Concern Worldwide,

Lower Camden Street,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – Thanks to Pat Leahy for bringing a note of sanity to the debate about the Greens’ recent electoral success (“Lest we forget: nine out of 10 didn’t vote Green”, Analysis, May 27th).

From the moment the voting boxes were opened the commentariat and Fine Gael Ministers were hailing a new Green dawn that was a vote for carbon taxes and other environmental measures.

The pattern observed in the US and elsewhere of moderate centrist voters being ignored in favour of trendies and leftists is in danger of repeating itself here.

The Irish Greens were wrong about diesel-powered cars being better than petrol ones. James Lovelock and Environmentalists for Nuclear now argue that the Greens were wrong to oppose nuclear energy, citing the effects of carbon dioxide as being more harmful to the environment.

The Greens now promote the use of battery-powered cars, vans and bikes. Yet in March, Amnesty International revealed that battery production for electric vehicles can be carbon intensive, as the factories producing them are dependent on coal and other fossil fuels.

In addition, the extraction of minerals used in lithium-ion batteries has been linked to child labour and other human rights violations.

Surely it is time that the Green Party and its policies were subject to proper scrutiny. – Yours, etc,

KARL MARTIN,

Bayside,

Dublin 13.

Sir, – I’m a bit mystified as to why some commentators have decided that people who voted for the Green Party candidates were young people who had no idea how much Green party policies might cost and who would change their minds as soon as a carbon tax appeared.

It’s a long time since I was young and I voted Green. I won’t be around, I expect, when the problems of climate change really come home to roost here in Ireland but my children and my grandchildren will be, hopefully.

We need to change for the generations to come. I never had to worry seriously about climate change for a lot of my life and have no doubt created my own share of problems for the environment in my younger days when single-use plastic was the best thing ever and recycling as we know it wasn’t heard of. Although older people may not have a long future ahead of us, we have a huge stake in that future, our children and grandchildren and the generations to come. – Yours, etc,

PATRICIA DOLAN,

Portmarnock,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Sinn Féin is no longer a nationwide party. About 50 per cent of its councillors are now concentrated in five authorities – 10 out of the 81 councillors (with some seats still to be declared) are in Donegal alone – with the rest spread thinly across the State. But having been voted in to power in Stormont and with seats in Westminster, but refusing to take up both, why bother giving them a vote here? – Is mise,

KENNETH HARPER,

Burtonport,

Co Donegal.

Sir, – In light of the current political landscape, clearly we have moved from smoke and mirrors to swings and roundabouts. – Yours, etc,

FRANK BYRNE,

Terenure,

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – It seems Fine Gael took both hands off the wheel in the recent elections and the swing went against them. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN AHERN,

Clonsilla,

Dublin 15,

Sir, – Should a country which still uses pencil and paper and manual counting for national plebiscites spend billions on high-tech broadband? – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL McNAMARA,

Sligo.

Sir, – The versatility of shopping trolleys never ceases to amaze me. They have carried over 7.3 metric tonnes of ballot papers over the past days. What’s next? Electronic voting? – Yours, etc,

SEAN FLEMING,

Ballycotton,

Co Cork.