The Give-Away Budget - Mostly Ignores Climate Change
Budget 2016 has been labelled the ‘give-away’ Budget, and nowhere is this description more accurate than in what it tells us about this Government’s approach to preparing Ireland for the many threats and challenges that climate change will present in the immediate future.
What Budget 2016 ‘gives away’ is this Government’s stunning disengagement from the crisis that the World Bank recently identified as the most serious and urgent facing individual countries and humanity as a whole in the early 21st century.
The World Bank report, ‘Turn Down The Heat’ warned that, in the absence of drastic measures, we are on track for a 4°C hotter world “marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise”.
Every country on Earth has a shared moral imperative to act now, and to act together, to stave off a global catastrophe which threatens to wipe away all economic, health and social gains of the last 100 years and more.
In September 2014, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the UN in New York: “The hand of the future beckons, the clock ticks and we have no time to waste” in our battle to head off the worst impacts of climate change.
Which part of Budget 2016 lives up to An Taoiseach’s vow that “each of us must play our part”? The real give-away we would suggest is the betrayal of our shared future by a generation of Irish politicians and policymakers who, in the midst of the gravest crisis in at least half a century, are too caught up in petty election politics and beholden to powerful special interests to even be aware of the gathering ecological storm.
Where is the strategic investment in a low-carbon economy? Nowhere.
Where is the overarching vision to dramatically transform our transport, housing, energy and agriculture sectors towards genuine sustainability? Nowhere.
Where is the serious investment in adaptation to the projected impacts of climate change? Nowhere. (We must, however, acknowledge the positive move to commit extra funding to the Better Homes Programme which is an valuable element in improving the efficiency of our total housing stock but that is only a start in what is required).
Where is our political leadership that inspires the Irish public with a clear vision not just of the approaching crisis, but of how we will, working together, brace all sectors of Irish society to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change while mitigating to prevent future disasters? Nowhere.
Back in 2007, as the gathering global financial storm drew ever closer, the then Irish Government and its expert advisors and special interest lobbies assured the public of the “soft landing” that lay ahead for our dangerously overheated economy.
The current Government came to power in 2011 on the promise to never again play fast and loose with our country’s future, yet it has studiously ignored climate change, which has the very real potential to lay waste to the Irish economy, destroy our industrial and agriculture sectors and plunge us into poverty and chaos in the decades ahead.
John Gibbons, spokeperson for An Taisce's Climate Change Committee stated "Our government must be well aware of these well-documented existential risks but is determined instead to carry on regardless. We must expect – and demand – more from our political system."
For further information, please call:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland