Wednesday 26 October 2016

Plan vague on efforts to combat the 'challenge' of climate change

Published 07/05/2016 | 02:30

Moneypoint in Co Clare is Ireland's largest electricity generation station
Moneypoint in Co Clare is Ireland's largest electricity generation station

A commitment to support a 65pc increase in food production under the Foodwise 2025 programme, coupled with promises to protect turf-cutting rights, compete with a pressing need to tackle climate change.

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This is despite climate change being described in the documents published on the plan for government as needing "radical and ambitious thinking".

The plan promises to "examine" and "focus" on solutions to reduce emissions across the entire economy, but on agriculture - among our biggest source - the pledge is vague.

"The plan will focus on balancing the need to control emissions with the economic and social objective of promoting the sustainable development of a rural economy," it says.

It appears from the document that increasing the level of forest cover and undertaking research are the key planks of the plan.

There is support for solar energy projects, which has the potential to provide a dividend for communities, but there is nothing in the document about stopping the industrial extraction and burning of peat to produce electricity.

However, there are plans for a "national dialogue" on climate change to involve "extensive" public consultation. This includes a discussion around the use of coal at Moneypoint, the country's biggest power station, and a pledge to update planning guidelines for wind farms.

On transport, there is a pledge to invest €3.6bn on major projects, and a full review of services in place is promised. The plan also says that the €5.5bn needed to upgrade the water network is ring-fenced out to 2021. However, there is no clarity on whether the State will make up the financial shortfall which arises due to the suspension of charges.

It's also worth noting there is no longer a department for the environment, which perhaps shows the priorities of this Government.

Irish Independent

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