Climate change…and loose change!


Last Sunday I happened to tune in to one of Marian Finucane’s twice-weekly shows – I often think of it as her ‘chats with her friends’. I will remind readers that Marian’s RTE salary is approximately €300,000 per annum. In any event, when I tuned in, the panel and presenter were chatting about climate change and the proposed carbon tax.

  One of the panel members was Professor John Fitzgerald, a climate change guru and recognised expert in that field. The TCD professor is a regular on our screens and on the radio, and comes across as a very intelligent and affable chap.

  However, some of the stuff he came out with was quite incredible. I am not for one second denying the huge problems we face with regard to the damage that we have done (and continue to do) to our planet – and there is no doubt that this huge problem has to be addressed. However, imposing enormous price rises on diesel, coal and briquettes, etc. is not going to solve the problem. What it will do is seriously affect many people who live in rural Ireland.

  In many areas of this country public transport is simply not an option. In many cases people have to travel long distances to go to work. What would a 15 cent rise in the price of a litre of diesel mean to their weekly budget? Professor Fitzgerald said on last Sunday’s programme that a second-hand hybrid car could be bought for “as little as €20,000”. What planet are these people living on?

  How many people working in ordinary jobs have twenty grand to spend on a fuel efficient second-hand car? If the price of a bag of coal goes up by a tenner, or briquettes by €1.60 a bale, it will just add to the misery of a lot of ordinary people who are struggling to make ends meet as it is.

  I made some enquiries in this area over the past month or so, as I am currently doing a lot of mileage. I asked five or six experts in the motor trade if I was to change my car what would they advise. To a person they said that diesel was the only choice to make, even if the price of a litre goes up. Electric cars are simply not an option for people in rural Ireland. That’s the feedback I received.

  It was also notable that in the radio discussion in Dublin 4 not one mention was made about tractors and other agricultural machinery products which are run on diesel.

  We have to face the threat of climate change, but the powers that be will have to be more creative in suggesting ways in which to deal with it. There is a real world out there. Heaping further misery and charges on rural people won’t work – it’s not the answer.