We need to build our green image

Published 21/09/2011 | 11:18

The government needs to prioritise its promised climate change bill - but farmers must be treated fairly.

A Chara, With the Dáil having recommenced and the famine in Somalia persisting it must now surely be a priority for the Government to publish a climate change bill, as promised in the Programme for Government.

Given that the UN itself believes that climate change is largely responsible for the drought in the Horn of Africa, it behoves our government to display leadership on this issue and publish a bill before the year's end, capitalising on rare cross-party support for an important issue.

According to Friends of the Earth, if such a bill is not published this year it will take until 2013 to implement it.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 150,000 lives are lost annually due to climate change. Progressing strong national climate change legislation, in the midst of economic and budgetary turmoil, would send a strong positive signal to the international political community and hopefully inspire same in advance of the Durban Climate Conference toward the year's end.

It would also enhance our country's reputation globally, with potential knock-on effects in terms of foreign direct investment in the domestic low carbon economy.

Understandably Environment Minister Phil Hogan faces a challenge in imposing fair carbon-cutting conditions on the agricultural sector without harming export-generated revenue. Perhaps some means-tested carbon consumption levy would suit, though it would carry the caveat of potentially driving some agricultural contractors into the black economy. In any case extracting fair concessions from the agricultural sector would represent a meaningful step toward taking the injustices prevailing in southern Somalia more seriously. Mise le meas, Travis Gleasure, Laharan, Tralee.

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