From top: A Mini car driving through flood water in Salthill, Galway, as Storm Eleanor hit Ireland on January 2; Dan Boyle

Two days into the new year brings with them two storms. There is no novelty in recognising that the only predictable thing about the Irish weather is its very unpredictability.

Now is not the time for smugness. Sadness and justified anger should be the predominant emotions. Climate Change has been researched, recorded and its effects have been anticipated for more than forty years.

We can’t say we haven’t been warned. The antipathy of a vocal, ignorant and sadly far too powerful minority, hasn’t helped. When I see how Conor Skehan, retiring chair of the Housing Agency, views the issue he was supposed to working towards solving, then it isn’t surprising to realise that he is also a climate change sceptic.

We sadly still live in a world, where to oppose change, or to seek to maintain unfairness or injustice, is a better passport to seek position, and thus the ability to hinder progress, in what we dare call the ‘developed’ World.

If it hasn’t been outright opposition, it has been the push it down the road attitude, that has most permeated official responses to threats to the natural environment, and to the planet itself.

I have myself leaning, against my better instincts, more and more towards direct confrontation against those troglodytes, through whose antipathy or indifference, have helped bring us to where we are.

I am not going to listen to statements like “we’re too small a country to make a difference” anymore. Our carbon emissions per head of population is one of the highest in the World, and they are going in the wrong direction.

Nor do I want to hear that there are more important priorities. Every important economic and social priority can be and should be linked to how we deal with climate change.

We should be building new houses designed to prevent future fuel poverty. We should be creating energy through maximising our renewable resources, also enhancing community benefit, wherever possible through community ownership. We should be properly subventing our public transport systems to help prevent the number of single person vehicle traffic.

Each one of these policies initiatives would result in win win scenarios that would work towards meeting our climate change commitments, and improve the state of our economy. If done as part of a holistic suite of policy measures, we may even see better health outcomes.

It isn’t accidental that it is among right wingers where climate change denial is most prevalent. Conservatives want to maintain the status quo. They are most protective of the vested interests in whose interest the status quo is being maintained.They fear, rightly, the redistributive aspect of climate change policies.

The sharing of proportionate responsibility between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ nations, would see ‘developing’ World countries increase their capacity and thus improve global trade.

Within developed and developing nations redistribution of environmental responsibility must be used as a trigger to achieve better equality in society.

For those whose instant response will be why the Greens didn’t achieve this in three and a half years in government, consumed with dealing with an economic collapse, I can only say:

You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. If not, we might become a bit more than mildly agitated.

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

Pic: Galway Latin Quarter


Dan Boyle’s new book ‘Making Up The Numbers – Smaller Parties and Independents in Irish Politics‘ published by the History Press is available at all good bookstores now.

146 thoughts on “Swimming In It

  1. Bruncvik

    Regarding the statement “We should be building new houses designed to prevent future fuel poverty.”

    I fully agree. And if you look at the new builds in and around Dublin, many of them have a A2 or A3 rating already. I purchased such a house, and for the past year my electricity costs have been averaging 35% of the amount I paid for an apartment half the size, built 15 years earlier.

    Interestingly enough, though, at least half the buyers in my estate are non-Irish. And I have plenty of Irish friends and coworkers who are looking to buy, and don’t mind spending a lot more money for the dubious privilege of living in an outdated red-brick house. In some countries, it is already disallowed to sell or rent property under a certain BER rating, and so property owners have to invest into better energy efficiency. I think such a regulation would be beneficial in Ireland, too.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      “We should be building new houses designed to prevent future fuel poverty.” Fuel poverty though would be replaced by mortgage repayment poverty.

    2. bob

      I like the idea of having a lower BER limit for rental accommodation.
      Would force many accidental landlords to sell up, increasing supply of housing for sale.

        1. Cian

          While I agree that this is a laudable aim, we have a rental crisis – forcing landlords to spend money to improve the BER will be reflected in the rent charged or will result in fewer rental properties.

          Now if we were to introduce a rent cap based on BER that might be a better way to go:
          2-bed apartment in Dublin 2 with BER-G? Max monthly rent: €800
          2-bed apartment in Dublin 2 with BER-F? Max monthly rent: €900
          2-bed apartment in Dublin 2 with BER-E? Max monthly rent: €1000

          1. barelylegal

            We have not got a ‘rental crisis’

            We have a leadership deficit where the government of the day has habitually instituted policies designed to facilitate a wealth transfer from ordinary citizens to private landlords, *interfering actively with the market as it pleases their backers.

            * mainly by omission.

          2. ahjayzis

            Do you not think the rental crisis is partially a crisis because there’s a lot of people renting who’d like to buy but can’t, and perversely would actually be paying less in a mortgage if they could?

            A landlord selling a buy to let to a first time buyer reduces the demand for rental property by one.

          3. Cian

            “We have a leadership deficit where the government of the day has habitually instituted policies designed to facilitate a wealth transfer from ordinary citizens to private landlords, ”
            really? I thought we had a 10-year recession with little or no building, coupled with an increase of population – leading to higher prices.

          4. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            Yup, that’s reasonable too, I guess.
            I’m paying bananas money to rent a 2-bed: wasn’t in the position to buy before but am now (for reasons too lengthy and boring to mention here). However, can’t save a penny because the rent is so high. To be honest, I’d happily rent forever (couldn’t give a crap about getting on the ladder) but at current prices it’s not sustainable.
            Rock. Hard place.

          5. barelylegal

            Nice way of spinning it Cian.

            What about an analysis of the underlying or prevailing economic and policy-led conditions for how that situation came about?

          6. barelylegal

            Rotating the deckchairs around the Titanic Cian – the faces in the starboard chairs may occasionally change but mostly it’s the same old result

  2. GiggidyGoo

    Dan. one look at the globe will show you how small we are. An small area like the Rhur leaves us in the twopenny place as regards manufacturing and that, and many many other areas like it are the real climate changers.
    Electric cars and wind farms for instance. From a manufacturing and end of life point of view, including batteries etc., would you agree that there’s really no plus as regards climate change/greenhouse gases?

    Cows farting seems to be another issue. Sorry, Dan. Cows have to fart. We have to have cows in order to feed people. Feed us humans enough vegetables, and we also have to fart. Had any sprouts this Christmas?
    I’d think the traffic on the M50 has a much more profound effect than cows farting. Or even smokey coal burning.
    The human race develops / adapts as needs be. We are taller, healthier than 50 years ago. And climate change has been occurring throughout that period. (Actually i don’t believe climate change is bad). We get all sorts of ‘wettest since records began’ or ‘coldest’. etc. Yet we had various ages (ice age for instance) that didn’t last, due to…. climate change. We adapt. We will always adapt.
    But Dan. Look at the globe. Green taxes are just that – taxes. Absolutely nothing will change climate-wise by taxing Irish people.

    1. barelylegal

      these are spurious arguments

      methane emissions have a far greater impact per kg than burning fossil fuels, and you don’t have to eat cows at all, no one is making you do that,

      And hard as it may be to believe, I doubt very much you fart as much as a cow

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Me personally, no i don’t fart as much as a cow. But countryside people vs. cattle, well maybe we should do an survey? :-)
        But you mentioned spurious arguments. You’ve only tackled one of them.

        1. barelylegal

          I meant to write specious actually.

          Regarding your view that climate change is a good thing, this may or may not turn out to be true, failing to plan or resource properly for increasingly commonly occurring extreme weather events, I hope we can agree is not a ‘good thing’?

          Or putting policies in place under the guise of tackling climate change that merely facilitate wealth transfers to the few at the expense of the hard working many?

          Yours in flatulence (Dan’s post was full of it)

          1. Gavin Daly

            I could engage in a wide-ranging critique of your position – if I had the inclination or time. However, what is the point. It is so unoriginal, sullied by ideology and full of echo-chamber pseudo-facts so as to be tiresome. Therefore, in time-honoured social media fashion, I would prefer to just say – ‘Trog’

    2. Cian

      did you read Bruncvik’s post?
      If we increase the insulation in houses we save money on heating (and save on emissions). If we buy efficient fridges and freezers we save money on electricity (and save on emissions).

      Taxes can be used to incentivise people to do this. Remember tax can be used positively – e.g. you can give tax-relief if you buy efficient goods.

      Note: there is currently no incentive for a landlord to spend on insulation or buy (more expensive) efficient white goods – the costs go to the landlord, the savings will be made by tenant. But you can incentivise the landlord using taxes.

      1. ahjayzis

        How about we incentivise the landlord by introducing a regulation or two as to quality and sustainability?

        Why are landlords only allowed to have money thrown at them? They’re businesses.

        1. Cian

          Um, because rents are at an all-time high?

          But sure, introduce regulations. Just also include enforcement and massive fines for breaches – otherwise regulations are a waste of time.

          1. ahjayzis

            So, rents are high, and as a result landlords cannot absorb any additional costs and any changes in the sector must put MORE money in their pocket to compensate.

            What if rents were low? You’d be arguing for the exact same response – tax breaks.

            They’re a business, it’s a market, we have a government with the power to regulate markets – stop arguing for further wealth transfers to the asset rich as the solution for bloody everything.

          2. Andy

            Rents may be high but it is not that profitable – tax take is high, interest rates are high, etc.

            Example –
            House in decent area 600k, 70% LTV (180k deposit, 420k debt)
            Rent 3,000 / month or 6% Gross Yield
            Deposit plus closing costs & stamp of 12,000 (2%) = total cash equity 192k

            Gross Rent – 36,000
            Less – 3,057 (Mgmt fees & Letting Agent fees)
            Less – 728 (PRTB, Insurance etc)
            Less – 1,000 (repairs, upkeep, callouts)
            Income Before Interest – 31,215

            Less – 20,580 (Cash Interest Expense @4.9% – the prevailing BTL rate)
            Cash Income Before Tax – 10,635
            Cash Taxes – 8,423 (1,200 property tax, 7,223 income tax (7% USC, 4% PRSI, 40% Income Tax)
            Net Cash Income – 2,212

            Cash on Cash ROE = 1.23%

            The 75% interest tax deduction is a killer, as is the 4.9% prevailing BTL interest rate – if it was 100% (like any normal business and i see it is going that way) then the Net Cash Income would be 4,836 or 2.7% ROE (which is still pretty rubbish for a highly illiquid asset but its better than any deposit rate).

            So yeah, there’s not huge money in it unless the landlord bought the places cheap or are fiddling their taxes.

      2. GiggidyGoo

        I sure did. But my point still would stand I think. e.g. Buy a d-rated BER house for say €180,000 or one of these new ones for €300,000. Even taking it as being a cash buyer (as mortgage-wise my point would be further validated). There’s a difference of €120,000. Say an average of €4000 per annum for fuel and electricity is what it would cost for the d-rated house per annum, and say €2000 for the newer one. It would take 60 years to break even. Now bring that into a mortgage situation, and you wouldn’t even break even over 60 years. Somehow i don’t think there would be a tax incentive that would reimburse you over that period of time.
        But your point as regards landlords. Well it would be a way to force them into a rent cap. It could be dressed up as a climate change levy/tax etc. (Like the LPT which didn’t end up where we were told it would end up)

        1. Cian

          I’d like to know where you are looking at houses that are 180K vs 300K and the only difference is the BER? Sounds to me like you are comparing very different things.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            Lower energy efficient houses cost less vis-á-vis same size energy efficient houses. One quick search of Daft will confirm that.

        2. GiggidyGoo

          @Cian. Well, put a figure on it. Say, halve the €120,000 to €60,000. How much does that extra €60,000 add up to over a 25 year mortgage? Approx €110,000 in repayments as a rough calculation. Still not a runner.

          1. Cian

            300K over 25 years @4% has total repayments of 475K (so you pay 175K interest)
            240K over 25 years @4% has total repayments of 380K (so you pay 140K interest)
            That extra 60K costs 35K interest. So 95K total.

            Over the 25 years you would expect that the underlying heating costs will increase with inflation – your better insulation savings will also increase with inflation (which in an ‘ideal’ world would match your interest rate).

            In reality you can ignore the inflation and the extra interest on the mortgage (as they kinda cancel each other out).

            ‘How much will it save this year?’ and divide into ‘how much does it cost?’ to get years to return.

          2. GiggidyGoo

            Then you must calculate if it would have been better to not take on the extra debt and put that money into a pension. 4% wouldn’t be a valid interest rate for 25 years. That’s roundabout the best 4 year fixed rate. I’m old enough to remember rates in the mid teens mind you. Not saying that we’d go back to that, but at some stage we will hit 7 or 8 %.

      1. edalicious

        Northern Europeans’ ability to digest milk is possibly an adaptation to take advantage of a food source that was available during the longer colder winters of the far north. Same with longer noses to pre-heat the air so as to not lower core body temperature. Maybe not ice age adaptations, per se, but still I’m sure they helped!

    3. ahjayzis

      ” And climate change has been occurring throughout that period. (Actually i don’t believe climate change is bad”

      I stopped reading here.

      You’re a fupping moron.

        1. ahjayzis

          Oh that explains it.

          You went to finishing school instead of a regular school and thus emerged a polite fupping moron. Was the patron a member of the Flat Earth Society too?

          Cretins like you are leading us to fupping extinction, you don’t get polite counterarguments any more, you’ve lost the argument and are playing for time. You must be utterly ignored and ridiculed.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            That’s your contribution and argument then? The usual last bastion achieved – attack the other person, rather than his/her argument. There is a ‘T’ word that I think may describe your posts.

          2. ahjayzis

            Hi GiggidyGoo, thanks for your input.

            But 1. This person has no argument and 2. the actual argument’s been had. It’s over – there is an ironclad scientific consensus.

            “I dnt beleev siense hun haha lol xoxox” isn’t an argument, it’s the mewling of an idiot and should be treated as such. When something is proven beyond reasonable doubt, continuing to argue is just delaying the necessary actions being taken.

            See also: people against vaccines, people against antibiotics, people against women voting, people against the steam engine.

            We don’t have time to spend another 40 years trying to win over the purposefully pig ignorant.

          3. GiggidyGoo

            Six more sentences from ahjayzis of incoherent waffle. Personally I don’t drink alcohol before/while posting.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Aren’t you the great fella altogether?. That’s the standard comment type from someone that actually has nothing to say/contribute.
        You probably went through your schooling like that. Didn’t like the first page of the course, so stopped. You’re a great fella altogether. We are truly overwhelmed by your grasp of the subject.

        1. barelylegal

          You have a point. What’s sad is that broadsheet let some of those comments stand and delete other seemingly innocuous ones. I guess it’s a tough job editing this all day, but still.

          1. ahjayzis

            Babes, there’s nothing wrong with calling someone professing to know more than functionally ALL of the climate science community about the climate a total blithering fool and/or someone being purposefully trollish.

          2. barelylegal

            hi ahjaysiz

            yes there’s nothing functionally ‘wrong’ with your infantile style of argument, and good luck to you with it, but the problem with that full frontal stuff, is that it fails to convince any reasonable person.

            And, indeed both you (and some other lad down there who also argues like this)- all you’ve contrived to do so far is make giggidy look good, and yourselves look bad,.

            That’s what most people will remember from these exchanges, you haven’t helped them reach any rational conclusion after calm consideration of the facts (- as you have been unable to bring yourself to discuss things on that kind of level, being so high and mighty and self-righteous and all).

        2. GiggidyGoo

          ahjayzis. You certainly have had a bad start. And still you drive your bump-and-go car around your empty tin of last resort. Toddle on.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Interesting link. Thanks Lush.
        I guess Fargo Boyle wasn’t too far off the mark at all. :-)

  3. barelylegal

    Great stuff dan

    bringing in a regressive tax on petrol to facilitate the purchase of , high-emission, highly polluting new diesel engine cars was one of the meaningful changes you and your ilk helped bring about – a tax on motorists who had carefully looked after their old bangers – no meaningful cost:benefit analysis was done on this significant wealth transfer of public money via the scrappage schemes to private motor dealership vested interests – but hey yea let’s hear you preach it again brother

    1. Dan Boyle

      Never preached it before. Tax was based on emissions not fuel types. Policy was European wide not Irish alone. Car manufacturers is where your ire should be directed towards.

      1. barelylegal

        Exactly, My point is that despite having all of the resources of government at your disposal at the time, you hadn’t the brains or expertise to oppose this obvious scam, so why would we take you even remotely seriously on similar issues now?

      2. Cian

        Dan, with the benefit of hindsight – do you think that the policy was a good one? Should we have the rating solely on CO2? or should it have been a broader spectrum of emissions?

        Or if I can reword my question.
        Is the current Motor Tax (based on CO2) fit-for-purpose in 2018?
        If not, how would you propose to rework it?

        1. Dan Boyle

          I think NOx emissions should have been included as well. Getting CO2 emission past dubious civil servants was a mountain in its own right.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            Any reference point where you said that at the time? And if you did say it, who didn’t take it on board, and why?
            ‘Dubious Civil Servants’. Sounds very like a recent blaming of civil servants by a dubious Minister.

          2. barelylegal

            That’s probably the only thing Dan has said on this thread I actually agree with.
            As ignorant as some of the politicians in this country are, at least they come up for election every so often and we can get rid of their malign influence. We have no such failsafe mechanism yet in place for the senior civil servants.

      3. GiggidyGoo

        But, Dan, why would a car model bought in 2007, which was the exact same emission-wise as one bought in 2008 have different rates of tax if your idea was emission-based?.

      4. Mayor Quimby

        Dan – you seem to think that magical car technology can make certain emissions vanish. The proper way to tax emissions is at the fuel source;

        new BMW 5 Series drivers paying less annual tax than a small petrol Micra is nuts. You don’t have to be an engineer to see this – though luckily the Green party is devoid of engineers/scientists full of rather dim types like Eamon Ryan

        1. Cian

          um. I looked for the most efficient 2018 cars in each category (

          The NISSAN Micra 0.9 IG-T Visia+ has CO2 @99 g/km so would be €180 to tax (£14K).
          The 520d EfficientDynamics SE 4dr Auto has CO2 @102 g/km so would be €190 to tax (£38K).

          * the Nissan has NOx of 41mg/km; The BMW has NOx 52mg/km

          So the BMW has higher emissions and pays more tax.

        2. Cian

          he said “new BMW 5 Series drivers paying less annual tax than a small petrol Micra is nuts.”

          I took that “new” to cover both cars.

          If I can choose the age of the Micra, then I could choose a 1985 model, and get the vintage motor tax rate of €56. But that would be a bit silly.

          Or do you specifically want me to choose a Micra registered between 1988 and 2008? perhaps with a 1.6l engine? and it would cost €514 to tax?

          1. Cian

            “the point is that your comparison, with respect cian, was deliberately misleading”

            how so? I compared the lowest CO2 diesel 5 series with the lowest CO2 petrol Micra.

            What would have been a fairer comparison?

          2. barelylegal

            one that spoke to the point the original poster made which compared a new BMW with a generic micra, not new or year of manufacture specific

          3. Cian

            now you’re getting silly.
            if you try to compare a new BMW with a generic micra, not new or year of manufacture specific then it is totally meaningless. You’re comparing apples with, um, fruit.

            So if I say “BMWs are really expensive cars. Compare a new Diesel BMW to a small Porsche”. Then you would accept this as a valid comparison and agree that BMWs are expensive? and Porsches are cheap?

          4. barelylegal

            cian, try as you might, you can not now try to change what the actual poster originally wrote -we can all see it above

            in context your original comparison was playful at best, erroneous, misleading and deliberately confusing at worst

            you then foolishly compounded and tried vainly to obfuscate your error by offering to proffer a basket of other equally irrelevant comparisons.

          5. GiggidyGoo

            BMW 520 bought in November 2007 and same model bought in January 2008. Same emissions. But different motor tax. Why? Shouldn’t both be emissions based?

    2. Gavin Daly

      actually it was the German car industry which pushed the shift to diesel cars through sustained lobbying on emission performance standards for new passenger cars.

      1. barelylegal

        actually it was the Irish government of which Dan was an active part, who initiated the scrappage schemes, set the motor tax rates based on emissions, and effectively forced responsible motorists to scrap perfectly good vehicles with no meaningful cost:benefit analysis done.

        We’re told there is no tax harmonisation in the EU – so why is the argument being made that the “german” goverment made us do this? Balderdash.

        1. Gavin Daly

          none of that forced the purchase of “high-emission, highly polluting new diesel engine cars”

          I didn’t mention the German government

          1. barelylegal

            You didn’t say it literally, but if you look there above you will see that simultaneous to your comment, Dan said that the German government championed the EU policy change after intensive lobbying by the German marques.

            And ok – I’ll take your Jesuitical point that no-one was ‘forced’ to buy these cars.

            However I seem to recall the Government of the day used our money to actively promote well-publicised scrappage schemes.

            So while no-one was held at gunpoint -in fairness (well done), public money was indeed used in a highly effective state propaganda campaign to facilitate the transfer of ordinary citizen’s money to a few private well-connected individuals

            Is that phrasing sufficiently precise to satisfy your exacting semantic requirements? Please let me know. Thanks.

          2. Gavin Daly

            The scrappage scheme was a FF policy pushed by the motor industry which was on its knees at the time.

        2. Nigel

          This came about through car manufacturers engaging in massive fraud. Just to put the blame where it properly belongs.

          1. barelylegal

            Aided and abetted by spineless, corrupt national governments and well-meaning but ultimately clueless and uninformed morons (we’re allowed say that) like Dan, who now deigns to lecture us all again.

            I’m putting the blame on the useful idiots where it belongs.

          2. Nigel

            You’re putting the bulk of the blame on your pet scapegoats, ignoring the larger issues. Actual corruption and malfeasance versus your vague assertions and accusations against familiar targets.

          3. barelylegal

            I’m putting the remarks made by dan in context Nigel

            I don’t see any posts on here from motor manufacturers telling us to mend the error of our evil ways, but when I do I can write a message to them too. Set your alarm.

          4. Nigel

            I guess the motor manufacturers are safe from your wrath so long as they keep their heads down, then.

          5. barelylegal

            sorry dan, you are right to make this about me, considering you actually have no other arguments.

    3. barelylegal

      interesting edit- thanks broadsheet ;)

      actually I did think better of including that last paragraph myself so thanks for making me look better than I am ;)

        1. GiggidyGoo

          Dan, just because you have ‘said’ something doesn’t make it correct or sensible. But when you include the type of comment directed at another contributer as in your last sentence, you’ve lost the argument.

  4. Fatima

    Half of all car journeys in Ireland are under 2 kilometres – a lazy 10-minute cycle. We are car-addicted. (And there’s no point in saying “Look over there, it’s the bold cows doing it”.)

      1. Fatima

        CSO’s report last year.

        (For PDF see “How we travelled” file of CSO Census 2016 transport stats)

        Another figure from these stats: 68.7% of all journeys by car were undertaken solo. Surprisingly low, really; stand at a crossroads and watch the cars and you’ll see virtually all have only the drivers inside. Probably what skews the figure is the fact that kids don’t cycle or walk to school any more; despite the fact that most live close to their schools, virtually all are driven in cars. The census before that, the 2011 one, said the number of children cycling to school dropped by 87% from 1986 to 2011.

      2. Cian

        Wait, are you saying that
        “Half of all car journeys in Ireland are under 2 kilometres” (e.g. for every 100,000 car journeys, then 50,000 of these are less than 2km)
        “Half of all journeys in Ireland under 2 kilometres are done by car”. (if there are 40,000 journeys under 2km, then 20,000 are done by car)

        Because the links provided are pointing toward the second interpretation.

        1. Fatima

          There would be far, far more than 40,000 journeys in a year. If there are 4.7 million people in Ireland, and each of those people goes out once a day, for instance…

          1. Fatima

            Maybe it would be a good idea to write to the CSO and ask them to clarify? Ask them how many journeys of 2km or under are made per year.

          2. Cian

            yeah, I know. I was putting numbers on it to explain the difference between the two statements.

            So, which did you mean? Because you wrote the first, but provided a link that supported the second.

          3. Fatima

            It’s confusingly written – either way, it’s waaaaaay too many “sure I’ll just drive to the corner shop” journeys. The next generation of Irish people will be born with no legs but with a superhuman ability to waddle. And our levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and asthma will still make us world-beaters, yay.

  5. some old queen

    Our carbon emissions per head of population is one of the highest in the World, and they are going in the wrong direction.

    I am not saying you are wrong there Dan but is it possible to see the stats to back it up? I find it hard to believe that our emissions are higher than the likes of China and India is all.

    I personally think that the Green movement is primarily middle class and there is nothing middle class people love more than lecturing their ‘inferiors’. Insulated homes and good public transport are just common sense but if governments are serious then taxing excessive packaging at source is clearly the way to go.

    1. barelylegal

      It’s a fair point, statistics from those countries are likely meaningless. But what you’re doing there is what’s called erecting a straw man.

      Because – so are ours – for the most part. If you look into deeply enough you’ll find that out too.

      That’s why they took a reference year of 1990 to benchmark progress from. It was to facilitate the likes of us who were still stuck in the Ice Age in respect of building standards, regulations and control. Even from that low base, other than for our electricity generation, we still manage to make a balls of it.

    2. Cian

      why not both?
      We brought in the plastic-bag-tax; extend this to a why-are-individual-parsnips-wrapped-in-plastic-attached-to-a-plastic-tray-tax and all other forms of excessive packaging.
      AND look at reducing carbon emissions too.

      1. some old queen

        Thanks but that only gives a % breakdown, not a comparison to other countries. It does not back up the statement either.

        Anyways, why is agriculture so high? Is it because we have proportionally a large agricultural sector or is it the same in other developed countries too?

        1. barelylegal

          It’s because cows fart and poo all day long every day, and we have a lot of dairy cows, and indeed have invested heavily in dairy production in recent years due to demand for products like infant milk powder from countries like China.

          Methane which is the main output of that process is far more polluting than other greenhouse gases.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            The thing is though, say we killed off our cattle industry, thus killing off a massive real export and earner for this small country the slack would be taken up elsewhere in the world and there would be no benefit to greenhouse gases but Ireland would be a massive loser. I think Dan should focus on large countries rather than a piddly island off a large land mass.

          2. some old queen

            The only way this will really work, and I do think there is good science behind it btw, is where countries large and small set by example.

            But, Greens maybe somewhat barking up the wrong tree when it comes to cars. Good road infrastructure = less emissions as well as less cars. And, instead of trying to demonise car users, recognise the fact that commuters are like electricity, they will follow the path of least resistance so investment in public transport is of utmost importance.

    3. edalicious

      China and particularly India both still have large parts of their populations living in relative poverty, which brings their per capita statistics down quite a bit but their countrywide emissions are high because they have such huge populations. Rich people consume more, produce more carbon, generally.

      1. barelylegal

        Not true at all. Completely specious, unsubstantiated rubbish.

        You are arguing that without any facts. Indeed in poor countries many peoples still burn dung, wet sticks, whatever they can get their hands on to get warm. Just look at the recent reports of smog in Poland – a relatively wealthy,modern country.

        In fact the US which has been traditionally been one of the greatest sources of emissions, is also one of the leaders in increased energy efficiency in manufacturing and other industrial production. Some of the increase may be because some of the manufacturing was effectively outsourced to the likes of China and Vietnam, but this doesn’t explain all of the progress.

        1. edalicious

          I don’t know what you’re trying to say here.

          Your second paragraph appears to contradict itself. The first part of it is true but doesn’t necessarily disagree with what I said. People burning ‘dirty’ fuel is a big health concern in poorer regions, worldwide, but that doesn’t mean they’re producing more carbon.

          Your third paragraph is again true but again doesn’t disagree with what I said. The USA has reduced its carbon emissions in recent years but it’s still one of the highest GHG producers in the world.

          Do you want to try again? Maybe I’m just not understanding what you’re trying to say.

          1. barelylegal

            “a big health concern in poorer regions, worldwide, but that doesn’t mean they’re producing more carbon”

            it probably does- the thing is there are no real stats to accurately capture the extent of this in those countries. China’s BER scheme for example is still just a voluntary scheme for commercial buildings.

            The likes of dung, wet turf, wet sticks etc are high contributors to emissions. These fuels – if wet – are far higher in emissions and particulate matter than gas and electricity (from renewable sources) if burned in an inefficient way in open fires. That’s why the EU is trying to get us to stop burning turf, and where we use biomass to use dry wood chips and pellets in high efficiency boilers.

          2. edalicious

            “it probably does”

            It absolutely does not! If someone is so poor that they’re burning poo because that’s literally all they can afford, they almost certainly aren’t making unnecessarily short car trips, probably don’t own a car, probably don’t have central heating/air con, probably aren’t buying produce shipped miles from different countries, almost definitely don’t have electricity in their house or place of work.

            Just because someone is burning a fuel source that produces more emissions, doesn’t mean that their overall emissions are higher.

          3. Cian

            “The likes of dung, wet turf, wet sticks etc are high contributors to emissions. ”
            yes and no.

            Yes, when you burn a stick it releases carbon….
            but this is carbon that was extracted from the air when the tree was growing – so it is just recycling carbon – if the tree died and rotted the carbon would be released.

            The problem is that when we burn oil, gas, coal or turf we are releasing carbon that was extracted from the air millions of years ago (thousands of years for turf). If we didn’t burn them – the carbon remains trapped in the coal/oil. This is where the increase in CO2 is coming from.

          4. barelylegal

            cian – burning wet sticks does not just result in the emission of ‘carbon’ (I assume you’re erroneously referring to carbon dioxide there) – there are usually other GHGs and PMs emitted also

          5. barelylegal

            edalicious, your comments are absurd and naive.

            the assumption that people living in fuel poverty, globally speaking, don’t also consume electronic or other packaged goods, use mobile phones, or travel on cars,buses, planes etc appears on its face to be somewhat simplistic.

          6. edalicious

            “the assumption that people living in fuel poverty, globally speaking, don’t also consume electronic or other packaged goods, use mobile phones, or travel on cars,buses, planes etc appears on its face to be somewhat simplistic.”

            I literally said none of those things.

            Must work harder on reading comprehension.

            It is a well established fact and patently obvious that people from wealthier countries in general consume more and produce more GHG emissions.

          7. barelylegal

            only if you make meaningless comparisons about ‘people’ and ‘personal consumption’

            in fact you should include all of the sources of emissions, e.g. farming, transport, industrial production, power generation, aviation etc.

            Then and only then would your comparisons be credible,

            ‘rich people’ in fact are far more energy efficient than the poor

          8. edalicious

            This isn’t about energy efficiency though, it’s about GHG emissions.

            You can be more energy efficient than someone else but if you use enough energy, you will have higher emissions than them.

          9. barelylegal

            well that depends on what you use the energy for edalicious – please refer to my previous comment

            in Ireland for example emissions associated with producing electricity are reducing all the time as we add more and more wind power and other renewables to the grid, this socialisation cost of ‘consumption’ may result in lower emissions from that use of energy, compared to a country like Poland which still relies a lot on coal for power generation.

          10. edalicious

            You do realise you hopped onto a thread discussing per capita emissions of different countries here, right? I feel like you’re trying to argue against a point no one is making.

            “in fact you should include all of the sources of emissions, e.g. farming, transport, industrial production, power generation, aviation etc.”

            This is what we’re discussing.

            “that depends on what you use the energy for ”

            Surely you mean where you get the energy from? But regardless, that’s not really what was originally being discussed. We’re talking about per capita emissions rather than watts generated per ton of carbon which seems to be what you’re trying to talk about.

          11. barelylegal

            Yeah – I misspoke.

            I agree that we’ve wandered off the point somehow.

            What we seem to fundamentally disagree on, is that I just don’t think that per capita emissions are a valid metric for comparison between rich and poor countries. If the stats are wrong in the first case, which I strongly believe is the case, per capita comparisons between countries are pointless.

            You raise an interesting question though – inadvertently. What happens when those countries like India, China and Vietnam do rise to our level of personal consumption?

  6. Yellow Cheese Dog

    Dan still doesn’t know the difference between weather and climate. SAD!

    [*Climate is best described as 30 years of weather]

      1. Yelloe Cheese Dog

        And then through juxtaposition try and make a fallacious logical leap to “Climate Change”

        “[…] the only predictable thing about the Irish weather is its very unpredictability.”


        “Climate Change has been researched, recorded and its effects have been anticipated for more than forty years.”

        If the dogma of “Climate Change” is only 40 years old then you’re only relying on 1.3 data points.

        Where’s the trend?

    1. GiggidyGoo

      New Ross wouldn’t be a great example though to base an an overall argument on. I’d think that once the bypass opens, the results will change. New Ross is a bottleneck for HGVs going to/from Rosslare to/from the Mid West, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Tipperary. It’s the only town that has to be passed through by HGVs (and tourist cars mind you) from all of those areas as a whole. There is a traffic jam 2-3 km every working day on the Waterford side.

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