Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ireland and Climate Change - Where is the Plan?

The logo has the slogan - - Ireland's plan of action on climate change - - There was no plan last month at the high-profile launch of a publicity campaign. Only if governing was about spending an advertising budget!!

The following is an extract from a press release issued in relation to Minister for the Environment John Gormley's participation at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia.

During his intervention the Minister spoke of the Green Party’s influence in Government. "The new government has set an ambitious target of a 3 percent annual reduction in green house gas emissions. We have set up a new cabinet committee on climate change chaired by our prime minister, introduced an annual carbon budget and announced a series of measures, including the elimination of energy inefficient light bulbs. We do not see these measures as a burden but rather as an exciting new opportunity," he said. "We know that the window of opportunity to prevent dangerous climate change is rapidly closing. But it is still within our reach if we agree an historic "Bali Roadmap" leading to a global and comprehensive climate agreement in 2009," he added.

The Minister added, "We, as political leaders, must send the clearest signal yet that we are entering a new era, an era which sees a real paradigm shift. We must begin to think in an entirely new way. We must think carbon. And if carbon is to become the new global currency then we must put a price on carbon.

Here in Bali we must launch a process that leads to a comprehensive deal that addresses mitigation and adaptation, as well as technology and finance, as part of the building blocks of a new climate framework." In conclusion "The window of opportunity to successfully address climate change is fast closing. We have 10 years to stabilise our emissions but only 48 hours to reach agreement here in Bali. We have no choice - we cannot fail to demonstrate political leadership here. We simply cannot leave Bali without a new roadmap."

Whether the "intervention" actually took place, one can only guess, but it's striking that after six months of warning of the peril, and what other countries should do about climate change, there have been no specifics of what unpalatable choices that will be necessary to achieve big cuts in emissions.

For example, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lauds France for its nuclear power but even on wind energy, Irish operators are awaiting decisions from the Government.

A climate change Cabinet sub-committee that met once since June??

Light bulbs?

In the past 2 weeks, we have had the launch of a publicity campaign and a "Carbon Budget" that was aspirational without any costs.

The US has been criticised for insisting that specific emissions targets be excluded from the final Bali Roadmap, which sets out the goal of achieving a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol by 2009.

The European Union pushed for the inclusion of a target of 25-40% carbon emission cuts from the 1990 level, by 2020.

What are the implications of this for Ireland? Like so much else, our policymakers may well not know.

It's easy at this stage for politicians to waffle about 2020 when most of them will be in clover at that future time, with their gold plated pensions.

Our lack of what could remotely be termed a "plan", simply does not match the posturing and demands for action from other countries.

In a special article published by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) on Dec 20th, it is claimed that Ireland's estimated economic growth will be reduced by up to 20 per cent a year as a result of the Government's planned reductions in carbon emissions.

The Government's climate change policy, which requires CO2 emission reductions of 3 per cent a year to 2012, would require "draconian measures" across all sectors of the economy, and should be abandoned, says ESRI senior researcher Richard Tol.

He says that carbon taxes be introduced, but only on emissions from sectors not already covered by the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme - the power generation, iron and steel, glass and cement industries.


Finfacts Climate Change Reports