I note that at the launch of the Climate Change Action Plan on Monday, the great Minister for Transport Shane Ross took time out from his latest photoshoot to tell the nation that he is going to “get them out of their cars” and that there are several other proposals to get people to reduce carbon emissions over the next ten years.
There is no doubt that serious measures have to be taken to help combat climate change, but as usual rural Ireland is at the very back of the queue when it comes to consideration in these matters.
I get up at 6 am four mornings a week and travel to Tullamore to work. Can Mr. Ross suggest an alternative to the diesel car that I drive to get there? The Luas extension, the Metro Link and improved bus services are not much good to me here in Roscommon. When Mr. Ross and his friends hike the price of diesel, he will be penalising me – and tens of thousands like me – who simply have no alternative to using the car to get to work. Change to an electric car as an alternative? Have you seen the price of the electric cars on the market at the moment, and the lack of charging facilities around the country? It’s time for Mr. Ross to come outside the M50 and talk to rural people and stop preaching from on high.
Can Mr. Ross explain where he is going to get the billions of euro they collect every year in VRT and other taxes on the sale of cars and vans? What taxes will the Government be increasing to make up the shortfall?
Climate Change plans sound fine, but there must be a balance struck between urban dwellers and those of us who live in rural Ireland.
I also see where the Government are planning to ban diesel cars from the centre of towns and cities. I’m sure that the business communities will have something to say about. All these suggestions sound great and look good on paper, but very few people who make those suggestions actually think about how they might work in practice.
I notice too that there was very little in Monday’s plan about agriculture, and what the Government intends to do about farmers who rely on diesel vehicles to do their daily work. Too sharp of a nettle to grasp, methinks!
There is certainly a clamour for action to be taken on climate change. Of course since the recent election – which saw the Green Party make significant gains – the Government (and every other political party) are falling over themselves to be seen to have a ‘Green Agenda’. A lot of this is naked political opportunism fanned by the election results.
I know that we have to be seen to do our bit here in Ireland, but until the likes of the USA and China take this problem seriously, the efforts we are making here won’t make a blind bit of difference in global terms.
I am certainly not denying that Climate Change is a major issue for our generation and that something will have to be done – and quickly too – but it must be better thought out than the knee-jerk reaction that we saw on Monday. If the price of a litre of desel rises 10 cent in the Budget as a result of increased carbon taxes, it is the people of rural Ireland that will be hardest hit. That’s the simple reality.
Let’s see how that affects the ‘Green Agenda’.