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LETTER: Council needs to clean up its own fleet of vehicles to start with

March 24th, 2018 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – Your series ‘West Cork and Climate Change’ (Saturday, March 17th, 2018) is very welcome, if one can welcome a harbinger of bad news. 

In fact, the situation that David Putnam outlines – ‘get ready for a major weather event every 5 years’ – is mild compared to those who live in Boston. There, the executive of Boston Harbour Now, commenting on the latest storm to drive freezing floodwaters into business districts and neighbourhoods, said, ‘Now that we’re having these hundred-year storms every two months…’

While David Putnam’s suggestion that we should ‘pool our knowledge’ and start ‘coming up with some solutions’ is timely and would be very useful, the ground work has already been done. The pathways to ‘deep decarbonisation’ to prevent catastrophic global warming have been laid out in great detail in an international project between 17 countries (search: Deep Decarbonization Project), showing exactly what steps each country must take to ensure that we reach zero emissions by 2050. These pathways will allow current energy consumption and the projected growth in demand globally to continue.

One of the first, quickest, and most effective steps we can take is to convert our vehicle fleets to electricity produced through renewable sources. It will only take about 20 years to convert most of the world’s one billion vehicles to (green) electricity, while it will take more than 100 years to convert our housing stock. 

Given that transport accounts for more than 20% of the world’s CO2 greenhouse gases, this is a no-brainer. You see it being led by the business community in recent announcements of, for example, the end of diesel car production during the next decade.

Ireland’s emissions in the transport sector increased 3.7% in 2016, the fourth successive annual increase. It is, therefore, hard to understand the attitude of Cork County Council as expressed through the Senior Executive officer with the Environmental Directorate in your previous issue of 10 March, 2018. 

Questioned by Cllr Paul Hayes, who cited the Council’s consumption of over a million litres of diesel used by the Council’s fleet of vehicles, he asked the officer if it ‘would not make more sense to look more at electric-powered vans and such’. Senior Executive Officer Ted O’Leary responded that, while ‘electric cars and other vehicles were the way of the future, there were no plans at this time to incorporate these within the fleet of council vans and trucks.’

Cork County Council in its new role as the lead authority to set up and manage a Climate Action Office for the Atlantic Seaboard needs to clean its own house before its leadership role will have any credibility.

Sincerely yours,

Tony Lowes,

Director,

Friends of the Irish 

Environment,

Eyeries.

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