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Why Phil shouldn't play the green card

Minister for Hot Air Phil Hogan is at it again. Despised by tree-huggers in his homeland, the environment minister stands accused of misrepresenting himself before an overseas audience.

Addressing last week's UN climate change conference in Qatar, Hogan promised "an ambitious environmental agenda" when Ireland assumes the EU presidency in January. However, Irish critics likened his "fine words" to the pious craw-thumping of a pilgrim who repents at a foreign shrine but resumes sinning on his return home.

In fairness to Hogan, piety is crucial to environmentalism – a modern-day religion replete with rites and symbols. Take recycling, and the weekly division of paper, glass and biodegradable refuse into separate bins.

Most of us know the ritual is largely a waste of time but we perform it as a sign of our commitment to the ecological faith.

Climate change summits move this kind of gesture politics on to the world stage. Hogan shouldn't be blamed for playing a game invented by green crusaders. As EU president, the Irish Government will, no doubt, prepare an ambitious environmental agenda – and it won't be worth the recycled paper it's written on.

Indo Review