‘Greens in government’
Sir, – The Weekend Review on the “Greens in government” (May 16th) was very well presented with excellent articles by Kevin O’Sullivan, Fintan O’Toole, Pat Leahy, Cliff Taylor and others. It is indeed possible and necessary to rebuild our economy and improve our society through a green stimulus plan to restart our country. One element I felt was missing from the discussion, and which I hope will not be missing from the programme for government, is the fact that rebuilding the economy while reducing emissions (decarbonising) is not enough. We also need to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, such as storms, floods, sea-level rise and droughts. Luckily many of the actions we need to take to reduce emissions, like investing in land restoration, redirecting agriculture and reshaping our transport systems, also contribute to adaptation. We also have in place local authority and sectoral adaptation plans that are ready for investment and implementation. So we have a solid base to build on.
In 2018, I conducted research for the Environmental Protection Agency to determine how best to fulfil the goal in the 2015 Climate Act to make Ireland “climate resilient”.
The short answer is that a climate resilient Ireland is on a pathway to sustainable development, across all 17 of the UN’s sustainable development goals from gender equality and sustainable cities, to biodiversity protection and access to healthcare.
We cannot separate our efforts to rebuild the economy from our efforts to reduce emissions or build a more sustainable, inclusive and safe society.
So my message to those negotiating a programme for government is to make sure that the UN goals inform our vision of the Ireland we want to create by 2030 and 2050 so that we build a sustainable, zero-emissions and resilient society and economy for generations to come. Our leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to do that now. – Yours, etc,
Dr TARA SHINE,
Change by Degrees,
Sir, – Fintan O’ Toole points out that Scotland is meeting or exceeding climate change targets while we, a close neighbour, are not (“‘Bomb the economy’ is the only climate strategy that’s worked in Ireland”,Opinion & Analysis, May 16th). He argues that in Ireland we frame the debate negatively, and stings us with the evidence that all our talking and complaining is getting little done.
He is right. We tend to see taking action on climate change as a threat to our economy, and our inaction as unimportant because we are a small country. Other small countries are doing their bit. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – For a small party, joining government as a junior partner must seem a bleak prospect. Opposition is safer, and there is a certain satisfaction in criticising and complaining while avoiding responsibility.
The Greens have all the reasons in the world to avoid joining government after the massacre they suffered the last time, but they also have the world as a reason for going into government and trying to get something done.
Unfortunately this means going into coalition with parties that have danced around taking the necessary action on climate change for over a decade. It means joining government knowing they don’t have the numbers to push through all their policies, and knowing that, being green in every sense of the word, they don’t have the experience to make the best of the limited opportunities they will get.
Powerful, embedded vested interests will oppose them. Pragmatic colleagues will see other priorities. They will fail much more than they will succeed.
That indeed is a daunting prospect. But they need to try all the same. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Stirred by the six pages devoted to the idea of the Greens in power in the Weekend Review on Saturday, I was able to recycle that section of the newspaper in record time this weekend. – Yours, etc,