Government Environment Policy: Spin V Reality

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We all know that we have a government and a Taoiseach committed to spin over substance. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to protecting the environment and tackling climate change.

These were Leo Varadkar’s words on the 14 January in a keynote speech to the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party:

Unfortunately, it is evident that globally, temperatures are rising and emissions growing at levels that will mean that if they do live to see the next century, the world will be in a worse place than it is today.  That is a clear and present danger and it is not acceptable.

Ireland’s actions by themselves will not make a meaningful difference globally.  We are a small island. Sometimes that argument is made to suggest we should do nothing.  I reject that.  Fine Gael rejects that.  We have a powerful voice on the world stage and we can lead by example.

Apart from the fact that saying ‘by the next century…the world will be in a worse place’ MASSIVELY understates the urgency and scale of the problem, it is also completely false that the government are ‘leading by example’ – quite the opposite. In practice they are systematically obstructing the very things that in their spin and PR they claim to be doing.

On the Fine Gael website they make numerous claims about what they are doing. Few of them stand up to examination.

Claim: A new scheme to support uptake of solar panels

Deeds: FG has refused to pass the simplest of measures for supporting solar power, a guaranteed feed in tariff for solar the same as we have for wind.

Claim : Taking coal out of Moneypoint Power Station by 2025

Deeds:Keeping peat power plants burning by co-firing with biomass, destroying old growth forests in the US. Importing blood coal from Colombia to keep Moneypoint running.

Claim:New Beef Environmental Efficiency scheme to make beef production more carbon efficient.

Deeds: Allowing total emissions (the only number that actually counts!) from agriculture to increase while pumping out spin about ‘efficiency’

 

Claim:More cycling lanes and greenways across the country.

Deeds: FG continues to ignore campaigners calls for 20% of the transport budget to be spent on cycling, abandoned minimum passing distance law

Claim: New BusConnects initiative to make bus journeys more convenient and affordable.

Deeds: Flashy capital expenditure on one hand, chronic annual underspend . Privatisation and cuts in services to working class areas.

Claim: In the process of banning microbeads.

Deeds : “In the process of” , a curious euphemism here for blocking legislation to actually ban microbeads.

Claim: Banned single-use plastics in Government Departments (as much as is possible).

Deeds:Blocking legislation to ban single use plastics nationwide

Claim: Banned on-land fracking.

Deeds: Blocking legislation to ban exploration off shore (Brid Smith’s Climate Emergency Bill) . Actively encouraging exploration for off shore oil and gas. Fast tracking development of Shannon LNG terminal for import of fracked gas

We face a global climate emergency. We need emergency action now!