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OPINION: Carbon credits a ridiculous waste

Sunday, 23rd June, 2019 11:40pm
OPINION: Carbon credits a ridiculous waste

NOTWITHSTANDING its big new Climate Action Plan published this week, ridiculous is a word that immediately springs to mind concerning the Irish government’s spending of €86.8m of taxpayers’ money on unused carbon credits in order to give the impression that we are meeting our European Union emissions reduction target of 20% of 2005 levels by 2020, when this is very far from the case.

The money spent so far on carbon credits was aptly described by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Sean Fleming as a ‘charade’ and the bad news is that this may not be the end of it as, seemingly, an estimated €60m more has been earmarked for carbon credits just to make it look on paper as it we are meeting our emissions reduction obligations – and to avoid EU fines. What’s the point of pretending that we’re meeting targets when we clearly are not?

It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Our failures will catch up with us eventually – at which point there will be a much higher price to pay.

Friend of the Earth Ireland director Oisín Coughlan put it very well when reacting to the purchasing of carbon credits, saying that ‘the cost of inaction will always be greater than the cost of action.’ The amounts being spent would be far better going towards measures to reduce emissions and mitigate damage to the environment that sustains life on this planet what with climate change and biodiversity emergencies having been declared here in recent weeks.

The option of buying carbon credits to gloss over our gross failures to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions is something that should not be allowed or tolerated into the future given the scale of global warming caused by mankind and the quite tangible erratic type of climate change it is leading to. It’s time for all of us to get real about it.