Some countries have a haze of smog – we have a haze of smug

Our climate cheques are bouncing but we still think we are an exceptional people

Poolbeg power station, its towers just visible above heavy coastal fog in Dublin Bay. We thought about climate change when we had a little heatwave – but when the rain and clouds returned, our thoughts vanished with the sun. File photograph: Eric Luke

Poolbeg power station, its towers just visible above heavy coastal fog in Dublin Bay. We thought about climate change when we had a little heatwave – but when the rain and clouds returned, our thoughts vanished with the sun. File photograph: Eric Luke

Ireland may not be the best little country in the world. But it is unquestionably the smuggest. We suffer from SSS: Snow White stepmother syndrome. We have a magic mirror that knows the required dialogue off by heart: Who’s the fairest of them all? You are, lovely little Ireland. But on the single most important question facing our world, Ireland is truly hideous. When it comes to the existential threat of climate change, Ireland is a rogue nation, a spoiled brat that thinks it’s a little angel. At least when Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris accord, the malice and aggression were overt. We do things in our own sloothery way. We love the Paris accord so much that we don’t have to do anything to honour or obey it.

All our climate cheques are bouncing. We signed up to achieve by 2020 a modest 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels. The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest projection is that, at best, Ireland will achieve a 1 per cent reduction by 2020. In 2016, the latest year for which we have full figures, overall energy consumption actually grew by 3.2 per cent. This isn’t us missing a target. It is us dousing the target in petrol and setting it ablaze on a bonfire of dirty coal and carbon-rich peat, while we enthusiastically fan the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

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