Ireland continues on its grotesquely unjust and irresponsible trajectory with regard to climate change

Oct 14, 2017 No Comments by

According to media reports on the EU’s environmental council meeting yesterday, Ireland has yet again been pleading for, and receiving, special treatment with regard to meeting climate change targets.

The Euractiv website states that Ireland will receive ‘the most staggering concessions’ in EU negotiations; under the current rules it will have to cut just 1% of its emissions in the transport, agriculture and buildings sectors.

This news comes on top of the Irish government’s budget release earlier in the week, which is equally mealy-mouthed and unrealistic in its approach to the environment. Anyone interested in a detailed, trenchant critique of the budget to should take a look at Friends of the Earth’s recent commentary here.

Quite apart from the fact that the government’s inertia on climate is undermining our childrens’ future, its stance is a complete betrayal of the most basic values with regard to global justice and human decency. These are not just abstract figures we’re dealing with. I’ve talked to people from the Philippines who have experienced first-hand the catastrophic weather events that climate change is triggering, and who have lost loved ones. I wonder if the Irish representatives at that meeting in Luxembourg would be able to look them in the face and attempt to justify what they’ve just done. What could they possibly say?

There are so many ways to change this dynamic. The Environmental Pillar’s proposal that Ireland specify a right to constitutional protection in its constitution would lay important groundwork for substantive action.

With regard to fossil fuels, the Irish government could implement Cap and Share, which would cap fossil fuel production and imports and distribute the revenues on a per-capita basis, in order to help ensure a stable and fair transition to a renewable-energy-based economy. If Ireland were to enter a bilateral Cap and Share partnership with a Global South country, it would contribute significantly to climate justice and would also have a substantial impact on poverty in that country.

Equally positive and wide-reaching measures could be taken in agricultural policy, the financial system and taxation.

We’ll be very interested to hear what the Citizens’ Assembly has to say about Irish policy on climate and we hope that their recommendations will begin the vital process of moving Ireland onto a more constructive path.

Featured image: damage from Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines, 2013. Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Tacloban_Typhoon_Haiyan_2013-11-14.jpg

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About the author

Caroline Whyte has been involved with Feasta since 2002. She studied ecological economics at Mälardalen University in Sweden, writing a masters thesis on the relationship between central banking and sustainability. She contributed to Feasta's books Fleeing Vesuvius and Sharing for Survival. Along with four other Feasta climate group members she helped to launch the CapGlobalCarbon initative at the COP-21 summit in Paris in December 2015. In February 2017 she participated in the World Basic Income conference in Manchester, discussing the potential for climate action to contribute to reducing poverty and inequality worldwide. She lives in central France, from where she edits the Feasta website.

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