From top: Activists highlight the government’s ‘attitude to Climate Change’ on Sandymount Strand, Sandymount, Dublin 4 in 2015; Dan Boyle
It’s no biggie. Only the most important issue of our time. A planet defining issue on which the long term, accumulated scientific research is ever more accurately and specifically describing what collective inaction will bring about.
The targets have become tighter and thus more difficult to reach. The timeline to be doing something is becoming ever shorter.
At a time when data has never been clearer nor the choices that need to be made known, we remain static continuing to give credence to those whose opposition is instinctive, irrational and strongly rooted in self interest.
Sometime I live in hope that Climate Change can be presented as it is and not how others want it to be.
This week I watched Evan Davies on BBC 2 eviscerate a former Trump ‘environmental’ advisor, Myron Bell. It made a pleasant change of approach to see a climate change denier being challenged strongly to justify their scepticism.
Certainly different than, for the sake of ‘balance’, pretending that that there has been some kind of intellectual equivalence between accepting the reality of Climate Change or not.
Listening to comments on Ivan Yates’ Newstalk radio programme, my mood become less sanguine.
One thing that became apparent is that the programme, and the station, seems to have wrapped up the audience of angry BMW drivers.
“What about China and India?”, the texters shriek. “How can a small island like ours ever make a difference?“, is asked as if it represents some great wisdom.
In Ireland we consume more CO2 per person than either of those countries. With China, in particular, its population is equal to that of Europe and North America combined. The European/North American axis produces far more CO2 than China does.
We have a moral obligation to act first and act quickly. The Duke of York routine being shared by An Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance of marching up the hill of environmental righteousness, only to skulk back down again, is not only tiresome it is quickly becoming close to criminal.
Ireland has agreed to meet certain targets under an agreed EU programme of carbon reduction limits.
Despite being given very advantageous terms, Ireland will spectacularly fail to meet those targets. Ireland currently lies 27th of 28 EU countries in our response to carbon reductions.
This will result in Ireland having to pay hundreds of millions of euro in fines to the EU in lieu of our failure to live up to our climate responsibilities. These payments will make moot the raising of any carbon levy, or the establishment of any rainy day (pardon the pun) fund.
We get only one crack at this. We need leadership rather than political spinelessness. We need rigour and commitment in place of lethargy and indifference. We need long term decision making instead of short term contingencies.
At the end of it all, before the end of it all, we need to stop treating the issue of Climate Change as if it were all just one big inconvenience.
To paraphrase Bill Shankly when talking about football – It’s more important than that.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle