‘The Climate Action Plan to Tackle Climate Breakdown’

 

Sir, – Joe Curtin describes the Government’s initiative on the environment as a “radical’ and “excellent” climate plan (Opinion and Analysis, June, 18th).

For the plan to succeed, however, it will require enormous effort and expense on behalf of ordinary citizens, unless substantial supports become available from the State. That is why it is puzzling to note that, as Mr Curtin points out, the plan is silent on the need for farmers to “transition from beef farming to more environmentally sustainable uses of land”.

Given that the Environmental Protection Agency has measured the agriculture sector as the single largest contributor to Ireland’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for over 30 per cent of the total, I fear that the Government is still “fiddling while the world burns”. – Yours, etc,

MARTIN McDONALD,

Terenure,

Dublin 12.

Sir, – Another big launch by the Government that specialises in big launches, with so little time left in office to implement anything.

When a Government has done so little to date, it is quite easy to launch a large and broad-ranging plan, comprising so many sweeping proposals, most of which have yet to be thought through.

To be fair, it is early days for this plan. However, I am disappointed that there is no specific proposal to bring back “glimmer men” to catch anyone flouting the new regulations.

What is breathtaking is the proposal for a “Climate Change Advisory Council”, a council to call out the Government when it is failing to implement the plan.

Sound familiar? The Fiscal Advisory Council, a body that the Government continuously ignores while pretending to listen to it. The collective gasps from people around the country on reading this proposal will set our climate targets back significantly. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN CULLEN,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – The rush to electric cars has all the hallmarks of the herd mentality let loose, all over again, just like the dotcom bubble, Y2K and the property crash. Battery-based solutions provide a convenient solution to fossil fuels in the developed world and particularly Europe, which is keen to show the way by embracing “ green” technology.

It may be green but it is dirty, even at current low levels of deployment, and is already the cause of serious environmental damage in developing countries, where the ores and minerals for battery production are sourced. As electric is scaled up, the destruction will become substantial, both in terms of toxins polluting soil and ground-water associated with mining, and carbon intensity in respect of the smelting and manufacturing processes of battery production.

Most of these activities are located in poor countries, well out of sight of trendy green Euro yuppies. The contrast between the green attitude to fracking, for example, and these activities is puzzling.

There will also be a massive demand for batteries for both solar and wind-energy generation. Will local communities put up with the siting of large storage stations in their midst, with all the risks of seepage of toxins into the soil and rivers, which could cause serious contamination of the environment for miles downstream?

European colonial countries plundered the world in bygone days for their own enrichment. It now appears that in order to meet their green commitments, they are prepared to destroy the habitats of poor countries and let these people wallow in a toxic sludge.

This is hardly the solution to decarbonisation. – Yours, etc,

T LONG,

Cork.

Sir, – Why is everybody talking about e-cars but not e-bikes?

The latter are far cheaper, don’t cause congestion, can be brought on the Dart or trains and, above all, are healthier.

I am now in my seventies and my joints are too creaky for using an ordinary bike but e-bikes allow me to keep cycling.

I don’t need an e-car, I can’t afford an e-car, and I don’t want an e-car, but the media is almost non-stop plus, if you’ll pardon the expression, for them. – Yours, etc,

PADRAIG YEATES,

Portmarnock,

Dublin 13.

Sir, – Based on the latest available data from the European Parliament and the World Bank, Ireland is responsible for something in the order of 1.10 to 1.16 thousandths of one percent (0.0011 per cent to 0.0016 per cent) of global CO2 emissions. Could someone therefore please explain how, if Ireland’s Herculean efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions succeed, we will have achieved anything other than handing the Government a whole new revenue stream, carbon taxes? Most certainly we will have done nothing meaningful to alleviate the perceived imminent threat to life on Earth. – Yours, etc,

RICHARD

MORE-O’FERRALL,

Moyne,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – The Government’s proposed Climate Change Action Strategy would appear to suggest that our future energy needs will progressively rely on electricity production. If this is the case, our national grid could become an increasingly attractive target for hackers and cyber-criminals. Although the cause of the recent power outage in Argentina has yet to be determined, it may be a harbinger of things to come.

In order to avoid a worse-case scenario, the Climate Change Action Strategy should include the ability of all households, businesses and public services to generate some, if not all, of their own electricity. – Yours, etc,

GILES FOX,

Kilmacud,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – The welcome Climate Action Plan has several forest actions but none for protection and enhancement of seaweed forests. The latter still straddle most of our coast and have a vital carbon-sequestration role, but are already under increasing pressure with a rise in seawater temperature inhibiting sporling development, and storm frequency uprooting kelp forests more often, with less time to regenerate. We are calling for a seaweed protection and management action with biodiversity, climate-change mitigation and adaptation goals, as well as a moratorium on commercial seaweed forest-cutting licence applications to allow us to better research and map these ecosystems and their health. This would not affect the traditional seaweed cast collection or traditional hand-cutting where the plant regenerates. – Yours, etc,

KARIN DUBSKY,

Coordinator,

Coastwatch,

Gorey, Co Wexford.

Sir, – Further to “Government will ‘nudge people and businesses to change behaviour’, says Varadkar” (News, June 18th), if the Taoiseach casts himself as the nudger who, pray, does he see as the winker! – Yours, etc,

PADDY GOGARTY,

Portmarnock,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – I’m afraid the Irish consumer will need more than the “gentle nudge” that the Taoiseach suggests to embrace and comply with the free-range, gluten-free, corn-fed, macrobiotic, utopian Ireland envisaged. History has taught us that the gentle nudge to have us dancing at the crossroads didn’t work. As always, the carrot and stick work. As we say in the northwest, you have to put out a trout to get a salmon. The Taoiseach will have to put out a somewhat larger carrot or jumbo prawn to achieve his objective. – Yours, etc,

CORMAC MEEHAN,

Bundoran,

Co Donegal.

Sir, – We banned cigarette companies from sponsoring sports events because cigarettes poison people. In the face of climate change, perhaps we should look at a similar ban for entities that promote poisoning the planet through fossil-fuel use? – Yours, etc,

LOUISA MOSS,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Without seeking to pre-empt what will doubtlessly be considerable and reasoned debate on the subject following the Government’s wise decision to “provide local authorities with the power to restrict access to certain parts of a city or a town to zero-emission vehicles only” which will be accompanied by recommendations of the “most appropriate responses for Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick”, surely an obvious answer for one of those cities presents itself.

In the case of Dublin, all that is required is that there be, with a few considered and obvious exceptions, no cars between the canals. Our artificial waterways will provide an effective and convenient boundary for our new environmental haven. – Yours, etc,

CHRISTOPHER

McMAHON,

Oxford.