Sunday 18 February 2018

Ireland doesn't really do climate change - so what will Paris deal mean for us?

Paying to fight climate change is not only the right thing to do - it also makes economic sense

Deep breath: Air pollution kills 1,200 Irish people every year
Deep breath: Air pollution kills 1,200 Irish people every year

Paul Deane

Last week, Ireland formally ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change. The treaty, already ratified by 103 countries, aims to reduce global greenhouse emissions and to avoid dangerous temperature increases.

The challenge is great and amplified by the election of Donald Trump, who dismisses climate change as a hoax and has pledged to withdraw the US from the historic deal.

Unfortunately, Ireland also has a poor record when it comes to responding to climate change. As Irish citizens we have one of the largest carbon footprints, per person, in Europe. As tax payers, we are paying subsidies of over €100m this year to peat-fired power stations, which generate over a million tonnes of harmful emissions. The State has spent over €2bn in the last 10 years assisting people to pay their fuel bills, while at the same time, we have the highest reliance on oil for residential heating in Europe - oil imported at a cost of billions each year.

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