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Colm McCarthy: Constraining dairy output in Ireland might not even reduce European emissions

The crucial weaknesses in EU emissions policy are the territorial basis and arbitrary measurement of the targets, writes Colm McCarthy

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'The emissions associated with the consumption of oil from Saudi Arabia get measured in Ireland and are not counted as part of Saudi emissions.  But if Irish butter ends up in Saudi supermarkets, the emissions also get counted in Ireland. ”.'

'The emissions associated with the consumption of oil from Saudi Arabia get measured in Ireland and are not counted as part of Saudi emissions.  But if Irish butter ends up in Saudi supermarkets, the emissions also get counted in Ireland. ”.'

'National governments, of which there are 200 around the world, have weak incentives to pursue costly adjustment to solve a planetary problem'

'National governments, of which there are 200 around the world, have weak incentives to pursue costly adjustment to solve a planetary problem'

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'The emissions associated with the consumption of oil from Saudi Arabia get measured in Ireland and are not counted as part of Saudi emissions.  But if Irish butter ends up in Saudi supermarkets, the emissions also get counted in Ireland. ”.'

Climate change shares a critical feature with the Covid pandemic: it does not lend itself to narrow, country-by-country policy responses. The virus is unaware that humans have constructed national political frontiers, and the planet has just one atmosphere, its accumulating stock of greenhouse gases shorn of national identity the day they are emitted. Purely national responses will fail in both cases.

Last July, the Government published Ireland's Climate Action Plan (CAP), following the strong performance of the Green Party in the local and European elections. Endorsed by an all-party Oireachtas committee, the CAP promises accelerated action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland, one of the countries to have fallen behind the targets set by the European Union.

Global action to reduce emissions has been inadequate for decades: further climate deterioration is inevitable without intensified effort, and the connection between fossil fuel combustion and emissions has been established for 40 years.