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The new politics of targets... instead of policies

Colm McCarthy


The doomsday issues we face need practical solutions - not just good intentions

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'Last autumn during the Extinction Rebellion protests people obsessed about the end of the world, but now worry more about the end of the month.'

'Last autumn during the Extinction Rebellion protests people obsessed about the end of the world, but now worry more about the end of the month.'

'Last autumn during the Extinction Rebellion protests people obsessed about the end of the world, but now worry more about the end of the month.'

The threat to jobs and pay cheques from Covid-19 dominates the short-term agenda but the programme for the new government must tackle the other doomsday issue - the inevitable costs of climate action. Last autumn during the Extinction Rebellion protests people obsessed about the end of the world, but now worry more about the end of the month.

The response of the Green Party to the framework document presented by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael is focused on climate action, which is no bad thing. Little can be asserted with any certainty about the eventual ending of the Covid-19 crisis, but unless the pharma companies are grievously mistaken, there should be a vaccine, or at least a therapy, within a year or two. Whenever it passes, Covid will bequeath long-term economic damage and expectations of a sharp and V-shaped recovery have proven misguided. The post-Covid agenda will include the repair of the public finances and the reduction of unemployment, but the climate emergency has more staying power than the pandemic and will impose substantial adjustment costs for longer.

Coverage of the Green Party response has focused on the figure for annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. They want a 7pc cut each year and party leader Eamon Ryan has described the figure as his key red line. But the 7pc figure is not a policy, it is a target. It is higher than the 3pc FF/FG figure but is no closer to a policy than the vapid debate about housing during the unlamented general election three months ago.