As a country, Ireland seems to contribute little to the carbon emissions and pollution of the earth’s atmosphere compared to other nations. However, when you narrow this down to how much each person in Ireland pollutes, adjusted per capita, there is barely any comparison between an Irish actor or an individual who resides in the United States. This is proof that we need to take on effective climate action policies and be sure to advance and adapt as we move forward.
In 2009, the author of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security Report, Simon Coveney TD, (the now Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence) stated that no petrol or diesel engines will be sold as new cars by 2020, due to the vast difference between running costs of electric and petrol/diesel types of vehicles. As a result, the report anticipated there would simply be no demand for petrol and diesel cars. The timely reality is that there are just over 17,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads as of August 2020, far from the target of 350,000 made by the committee in 2009.
Through the Climate Action Plan, the government has proposed plans to reduce emissions by an average of 7% annually and reach a 51% reduction by the end of the decade, in addition to achieving its target of net-zero emissions by 2050 – a strategy which will rely on the work of successive governments over the next 30 years.
A positive aspect of the plan is that it will be updated annually, allowing for new measures to be implemented, and for the process to be critiqued if it is not acting effectively. Noting ambitious measures, in addition to courting demand for electric vehicles, the government also plans to enhance the electrification of public transport & the entire transport system, EV’s, Electric bikes and intends to ban the sale/registration of non-Electric Vehicles from 2030.
However, several people have been left concerned by further plans which have been included in the current proposals. Farmers, along with others in the rural community, have been left with many questions. We know that livestock contributes massively to carbon emissions, but how does the government reduce the amount of livestock in Ireland without eroding and severely impacting the livelihood of many farmers nationwide?
This future could possibly be through organic farming, where producing a fair price and sustainable income for farmers is seen as possible. The government is also taking part in the EU renovation wave seeking to retrofit over 500,000 homes by 2030, as well as investing in wind farms and wind turbines which will provide a stable future for energy production in this country.
Further criticisms have also been made by opposition TD’s examining whether the government’s plans are solid or whether they are too loosely held. One such deputy Jennifer Whitmore of the Social Democrats, has recommended that the Government should look at interim policy goals rather than planning too far ahead. Bríd Smith TD, of People Before Profit, has also stated her belief that the language projected in the current bill is too vague and that the measures, as left standing, would have little chance of reaching the desired goals that it sets out.
Other issues related to a lack of accountability with government aims have also been addressed by the opposition benches, with various activist groups having likewise detailed instances where they see potential for the bill to turn out to be more regressive than progressive.
Adam O’Donaghue – Science Writer