Emission Impossible


From top: Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe presenting Budget 2018; Dan Boyle

Listed as the seventeenth topic in his speaking notes for the budget, there are some who believe that very mention of climate change by the Minister for Finance represents progress. It doesn’t.

The reference was one of shortest in his speech. He proposed two small spending measures totalling €53 million. Most of the section dealt with how the government is going to respond to the European Court of Justice judgement on vehicle registration tax in Ireland.

There was absolutely no mention of future events, some little more than three years away, that may yet have as a greater economic impact on the country than Brexit will.

On January 1st 2021, in all probability, Ireland will be hit with EU fines of €691 million, for failing to meet agreed carbon emission targets, or in being able to meet renewable energy targets.

2020 is only a staging post in the EU carbon reduction programme. The 20% reductions to be achieved by then are meant to be followed by another 20% of reductions to be achieved by 2030. By falling further behind in this process, Ireland is likely to be levied further, and strengthened, fines.

The EU programme has itself been overtaken by the Paris agreement. It has been estimated for Ireland to meet the targets defined under this treaty, an annual expenditure of at least €800 million will be required.

These are risks that should have been mentioned and foreshadowed in this Budget speech. Instead we have the usual can kicking down the road, to be dealt with and explained away by a future government.

There is in existence a National Mitigation Plan, but the only thing it seems to mitigate is the indifference of the government to this issue.

This indifference is as much held by senior civil servants as it has been by politicians. The long standing line, outside of the interregnum of The Greens in government, is that we should buy our way out of our responsibility. This with money which should more properly be used in underpinning our public services.

This type of thinking has produced a uniquely Irish problem – current underinvestment on the environment leading to later bloated, unnecessary and unproductive spending.

You might think I would say that, but any fair analysis would show that this approach has been Trump like in its stupidity.

In EU terms we are bottom of the class in our response to climate change. Even if we weren’t part of the EU, we would still have international obligations that we are not even close to meeting.

Most of the damage has already been done. The best we can hope for now is to mitigate our lack of mitigation to date.

In starting to act now we may begin to bury the deceit behind Irish political indifference that somehow addressing environmental costs is economically damaging. The opposite is the case. Our indifference in the past has cost us many R/D and manufacturing opportunities.

It may be that the government has in mind to transfer these costs onto consumers. After the water fiasco I would like to see them try. I’m fairly sure they’ll try to blame The Greens anyway.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


42 thoughts on “Emission Impossible

  1. Increasing Displacement

    So Dan is there much chance of you, current politicians, and anyone “interested” in politics, fupping off so we can do the work required?

    Because until that happens we’re stuck with the same me fein mentality, closed, without innovation and corrupt.

  2. ollie

    “Most of the damage has already been done. “. So we are over the worst of climate change. That’s good news from you for a change Dan.

    1. Nigel

      Wow. I mean you must cherish the chance at any old weak cheap shot at him to be willing to act this dumb.

    2. Dan Boyle

      Bless your selective reading. The damage will be the fines accruing. Climate Change is a gift that will keep on giving.

  3. phil

    Dan On January 1st 2021 , when the fines kick in, how will that effect pensions of your retired buddies from FF, remember those guys from back in 2008 when you destroyed our futures, so you could protect your pensions and those of your buddies when you saddled the rest of us with the private debts of the banks ?

  4. Cian

    The problem is that politicians only think as far as the next election cycle (which will be whenever FF think they can maximise their vote).

    2021 will the problem of the next government (or possibly the one after).

    If Paschal said “I’m not giving everyone €5 a week back – instead we’re going to spend that money on fighting climate change” there would be an election before Christmas!

    1. nellyb

      €5 a week is a cost of mediocre sandwich. Who would be devastated by not having extra 4 sambos a month? Not FG voters.

    2. bisted

      ‘…The problem is that politicians only think as far as the next election cycle’…ah here…you can’t accuse Dan of that…

  5. Zuppy International

    Don’t your read the news Dan?

    The pesky earth is not complying with the doom-laden predictions of fake science. The earth is refusing to warm as instructed, the polar bears are not dying off, the coral reefs are thriving and the Arctic ice cap is refusing to melt.

    Catastrophic Anthropocentric Climate Change (as promoted by Dan and his failed political dogma) is a scam and anybody still pushing these lies it is at best a useful idiot or worse: a lying fraudster. Australia has recently seen the light and begun to abandon it’s unworkable and very expensive green energy programme. The German programme is in real trouble particularlyafter the recent election, and of course GEOTUS (/s) Trump is leading the way with the return to cheap and abundant coal.

    Now, before you get your knickers in a twist Dan Boyle and insist how Trump is too stupid/evil//careless to listen to the high-priests of Climate Change dogma as espoused by your un-thinking, un-critical self, explain to all of us – in your own words – how Carbon Dioxide (a trace gas essential to life on earth) at a concentration of 0.04% controls the the other 99.96% of the atmosphere.

    If you can’t do that – without an appeal to authority – then you have no reason to justify continuing to push the scam of climate change.

    Stop pimping the fear Dan. We’re no longer buying.

    1. Increasing Displacement

      Climate change isn’t really the issue in my book, the climate changes. Ice cores have shown that.
      But the switch to a renewable and plentiful energy just makes sense, can climate deniers not see the sense of that?

      1. Nigel

        Not sure what the ice cores are telling you but worsening extreme weather events, drought, ocean rising, ocean acidification, desertification, heat waves and wild fires are going to be the issues whether you lump them all under climate change or not.

    2. Listrade

      Hey Zupp can you explain how a trace element like arsenic at 100 milligrams can kill an average human at 70,000,000 milligrams? How does something at a concentration of 0.00000143% control the other 99.9999986% of mass?

      1. Nigel

        Or heck how something as essential to life as water could kill you in various different circumstances.

      2. Zuppy International

        No answer from Dan but I see the winged armies of Logical Fallacy offerng distracting fire as he scuttles off the field of battle.

        Listrade ; 1) the human body in not analogous to the global climate system. 2) arsenic is a known toxin to the human body 3) Carbon dioxide is a known nutrient for the global environment.

        Nigel, Once again you confuse the lack of one molecule (O2) with the excess of others (CO2/H2O)

        1. Dan Boyle

          Not going answer nonsense. You’re on the same side of the argument as Donald Trump. You must be proud.

        2. Listrade

          But your question was only about a small concentration having an effect on a bigger system. Guess what arguing from a position of incredulity is?

          Arsenic is a known toxin at a certain dose. Lower doses and it has no effect (so you can keep eating rice for now). In fact, it’s possible there is nutritional benefits from low doses of arsenic. Not guaranteed, but there is emerging evidence of lower incidences of cancer at a low dose. Higher dose and oops, you’re in an Agatha Christie novel.

          CO2 is a nutrient. The carbon cycle is essential to use as part of life…but only at a certain. Lots of things work on a very fine margin. We’ve a good idea of the impacts of natural events with low periods of CO2 in the atmosphere and high periods because we can use various means to measure atmospheric CO2 going back quite a while and also see global impacts on climate following those periods.

          We know small changes in CO2 has had big impacts. Thankfully those were relatively short term from natural events and not a sustained increase,

          We also have Venus. Which did have a sustained increase and is nice and shiny to us because of runaway global warming from its volcanic activity.

          It’s all those things. But you don’t actually want that as you’ve made up your mind that it’s all bull, so no amount of evidence is actually going to change that view.

          Even if you don’t believe it, isn’t looking at sustainable and cheaper sources of energy good? Doesn’t matter how cheap coal or fracking is, it’s still limited. Wind and the sun aren’t (at least not for 5 billion years or so). All the trucks and waste that goes into extracting a limited resource when we could look at individually getting off the grid and getting it for free.

          My incredulity is that the aversion to anything left or green related means that we stop working on cheaper and cleaner energy just because it’s a leftie thing. Even if climate change is a hoax, the short term benefits to people’s pockets from sustainable energy has to be worth a go? And it’s still capitalism. There’s still patents and big corporations behind the technology. We can still make poor people poor if that’s what you’re worried, just not as poor and a little healthier than at the moment. Don’t worry, they’ll still be miserable though,

          1. Zuppy International

            Keep scuttling Dan, you’re the one peddling nonsense you don’t even understand. I thin k we can all agree that you failed to answer a simple question about CO2 concentrations before you got your knickers in a twist about Trump.

            Thus you must forfeit any logical, scientific or moral authority to push this climate scam any further.

            As for Listrae : “Even if climate change is a hoax, the short term benefits to people’s pockets from sustainable energy has to be worth a go? And it’s still capitalism.:”

            None of that is true either. 1) The Climate is always changing due to natural variability 2) So-called Green energy (wind and solar) are much more EXPENSIVE in the short term, much less efficient, and much less reliable (Solar doesn’t work in the dark you know). 3) It’s the opposite of Capitalism it’s Green Fascism, where we pay through the nose to keep the corporate welfare fraud going and for no known benefit to out climate.

          2. Nigel

            Your incredulity is doing all the work a substantive scientific response to the currently accepted theories of greenhouse gas emissions and global anthropocentric climate change would be doing if you had one.

  6. nellyb

    “It may be that the government has in mind to transfer these costs onto consumers. ” – likely to be the first choice. If anyone of working age is still left in the country by then.

  7. Sheik Yahbouti

    This from a Green who enthusiastically advocated “carbon tax”, (a lucrative scam), the increased use of Diesel fuel; horrendously damaging and engendering a whole new layer of smuggling and criminality?

          1. Zuppy International

            It was:


            Eamon Ryan agreed, telling RTÉ Motors that the decision to promote diesel cars with tax breaks in 2008 – by the government of which he was a member – was not the correct one.
            Since 2008, up to 70% of cars sold in Ireland have been diesels as a result of tax advantages. The move was promoted by the Green Party because of concerns about CO2 emissions from petrol cars. Mr Ryan was Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

          2. Dan Boyle

            It’s wasn’t. We did not discriminate against different fuel types. The classification was by the EU not us. Eamon regretted the effect not the reasoning,

          3. Zuppy International

            But if the effect was regrettable then at some point the reasoning was faulty.

            Oh wait, Dan has no logical, scientific or moral authority. He doesn’t do understanding or apology. He’s an empty shirt promoting the scams of un-elected EU bureaucrats at our expense.

            Keep scuttling.

          4. Amorphous Kerry Blob

            Hi Dan. I’m kind of wary of disparaging two people in the one comment* but Jaypers, that’s some feat to be caught out by Zuppy. Congrats!

            *(Don’t want to come off as totally discounting yeer worth as people. Also don’t want to get drawn into one of those stupid internet argy bargies.** It’s easy to forget that life’s too short and it’s a nice warm day, at least in Kerry. Better to be out enjoying it before the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia comes to town. Have a nice weekend folks! Byeeeee.)

            **(which happens to everyone. And everyone gets caught out by something at some stage. Best to just be honest about it and take the criticism on board. It takes the weight off and stops me saying silly things, at least sometimes. Whoops I’m rambling again. Take care folks. byeee.)

    1. Amorphous Kerry Blob


      It’s gas that nobody seems to care about the potential end of civilisation.

        1. Amorphous Kerry Blob

          Actually while we’re clicking away here; you might find this paragraph interesting:

          “The Anthropocene is a product of our fantasies of a frictionless, hyper-connected world. Humans created 5 billion gigabytes of digital information in 2003; in 2013 it took only 10 minutes to produce the same amount of data. Despite the appealing connotations of ‘the cloud’, this data has to go somewhere. Greenpeace estimates that the power consumption of just one of Apple’s immense data centres is equivalent to the annual supply for 250,000 European homes. Traces of this seemingly ephemeral data will persist into the deep time of the future, as rising concentrations of carbon warms the atmosphere.”

          (Taken from this short Aeon essay.

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