The Irish government has recently had to endure scandal after scandal in just about every department - justice, health, finance, housing etc. But there is still only one issue in town - climate change.
Fifty years on and there has been a clearing-out of another generation, this time by the running, shorts-wearing avocado smashers. To what will they bring their focus, energy and vigour? One thing they have promised is to take climate change seriously. On election as Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar said he wanted to see a new ambition on climate change. But he and his colleagues should do more than that; they should define it as the most important challenge to be faced; they are, after all, in Andrew O’Hagan’s phrase, the “globally warmed generation” - Diarmaid Ferriter, Irish Times
This week, yet another National Mitigation Plan was announced by the government to loud fanfare.
David Whitehead, a geologist and paleoclimatologist from Galway, lays out quite simply the futility of the Paris Agreement and such climate mitigation plans as they relate to Ireland :
A peer-reviewed paper in the Global Policy journal has modelled the impact of the CO2 emission reduction promises, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), made ahead of the Paris climate summit. The climate impact of all Paris INDCs, if every nation fulfilled them by 2030, which is most unlikely, and if the climate models used to assess the temperature effect of CO2 emissions are accurate, which is perhaps even more unlikely, the temperature reduction would be 0.048°C by 2100. If the INDC’s were extended for another 70 years and every nation fulfilled them by 2030, and continued to fulfill them until the end of the century, and there was no ‘CO₂ leakage’ to non-committed nations, the entirety of the Paris INDCs would reduce modelled global temperature rises by just 0.17°C by 2100. The Irish Times cannot have it both ways; if the models are correct the impact of the Paris agreement is negligible and if they are incorrect the rationale for the Paris Accord is unfounded. Paris is just symbolic virtue signaling by western governments and less developed countries signed up because it promised them large cash transfers. Now Turkey states that unless it receives the money it will not ratify Paris. Other countries will follow. Ireland is the second most carbon efficient economy in the world in terms of CO2 emissions in relation to GDP, and would probably be first if our GDP figures were correct, which we all know they are not. Ireland is also the most carbon efficient economy in the EU and so for us to be pay huge fines levied by the EU for a failure to meet the 2020 and 2030 CO2 emissions targets, agreed to by Eamonn Ryan on ideological grounds, would be economically very damaging and an act of political lunacy - David Whitehead. BA(Mod. Nat.Sc.)TCD, FIMMM, C.Eng.
These facts are not secret nor are they in any way over complicated for policy makers and the media to understand. If climate change is a serious threat to the world, Ireland can play no role in combating it and in any case we are at present a very carbon efficient economy. So our politicians should be fully focused on the other big issues they urgently need to deal with.
Ireland has a serious debt problem, the worst in the EU relative to our GDP. We have out of control public sector spending. Our public sector workers enjoy far higher salaries and pension entitlements than those in the private sector. Our social welfare spending is much higher than the EU average. A housing bubble is manifesting itself once again in Dublin city. Despite spending more on health than anyone else in the EU, apart from Iceland, we still have a dysfunctional health system. Elements of trusted organisations like the police force, care and charity organisations have revealed themselves to be corrupt. Pension funds are repeatedly raided by our cash hungry government. The idea of retiring in your 60's on a state pension seems less and less likely by the day. Socialist dogma coming from the media and government opposition benches prevents even a debate on most of these important issues, let alone solutions to be put forward.
If nobody in the House of Lords has never heard of the economic theory "comparative advantage", then you could safely bet a lot of money that nobody in either two parliaments in Dublin have heard of it.
One more anniversary. 200 years ago, 1817, saw the publication of David Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy, which contains the first exposition of the principle of comparative advantage, a thoroughly counterintuitive idea that was once described by Paul Samuelson as the only proposition in the whole of social science that is both true and surprising.Comparative advantage takes Adam Smith’s division of labour one step further and explains why free trade benefits everybody, even countries that are the worst at making things, even countries that are the best at making things. But it also, in my view, explains prosperity – what it is and why it happens to us and not to rabbits or rocks - Matt Ridley, the case for Free Market Anti-Capitalism
The fact is that it is not our energy or climate policy that is unsustainable. It is our massive debt, welfare and government spending that is unsustainable. It is the raiding of pension pots and rainy day funds that is unsustainable. It is our high income taxation policy that is unsustainable. It is the PSO levy that is funding renewable energy projects that is unsustainable. The government must know this and they know, because of our education system, that there will never be a free market anti capitalism system as Matt Ridley describes that might help address these problems. Although perhaps its too late for that now anyway.
So the government must propagate the idea that the end of the world is nigh anyway. They must call attention to a problem much bigger than all these issues and then use all the instruments of the State to help fight it. They must choose an issue that most people do not understand. And this is where climate change comes in. No longer do the politicians have to deal with the real issues. They can continually make themselves look good to a gullible public by pretending to combat a fake and larger enemy until the house of cards does finally crumble.