The Fine Gael/Fianna Fail outline ‘Agreement’ document for the formation of a minority Fine Gael-led government looks like being the ‘worst of all possible worlds’ from the point of view of anyone who cares about the environment, climate change or a safe future for all our children, according to An Taisce.

Outgoing Environment Minister, Alan Kelly has been criticised throughout his tenure in office for failing to show either leadership or enthusiasm for setting us on the ultra-low carbon pathway Ireland is legally and ethically bound to pursue.

However, when even deputy Kelly expresses his disgust with the complete omission of climate change, which he calls the ‘Global Cause’ of this generation, from this FF/FG Agreement, you know something is seriously rotten in the body politic.

This Agreement is a toxic brew that has emerged when Fine Gael’s laissez faire ideology is blended with Fianna Fail’s cynicism and opportunism, and spiced up with the chaotic and contradictory special pleading and parish pump politics of many of the ‘independent’ TDs.

This fact-free approach to politics was evident in the rambling and disjointed Dáil contribution yesterday of independent Kerry TD, Danny Healy-Rae, who engaged in full scale climate denial by stating: “God above is in charge of the weather and we here can’t do anything about it”.

Whatever about God, the Vatican profoundly disagrees. “If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us”, pope Francis wrote in the encyclical Laudato Si. Apart from rejecting science, is deputy Healy Rae not aware of the Catholic church’s teaching?

More importantly, there is an overwhelming international consensus among the scientific community that climate change is being primarily driven by human actions. Some 15 of the 16 hottest years ever recorded have all occurred this century. 2015 was the hottest year ever recorded globally and 2016 is already on target to smash this record.

As deputy Eamon Ryan (Green Party) told the Dáil yesterday, temperatures at the North Pole were, incredibly, above freezing point in the depths of last winter, on December 30th last, while ice melt from the Greenland glacier has started a month early in 2016. Meanwhile, most of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has experienced a disastrous bleaching event in the first two months of this year. And in Canada, unprecedented wildfires this week have led to the entire 88,000 population of Fort McMurray being evacuated.

Many scientists are now openly describing climate change as a “global emergency”, yet neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fail, nor it seems, many of the independents they are counting on to prop up a minority government, seem in the least bit concerned.

What is it that Irish politicians know that has escaped the attention of teams of researchers at NASA, the NOAA and countless other top international scientific research institutions, that allows us, almost uniquely, to remain calm in the teeth of the greatest international crisis since World War II?”, John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change spokesman asked.

Could it be that we are, yet again, sticking our heads in the ground and hoping that somebody else will somehow clean up the global environmental mess we have contributed so significantly to creating”?

If, after 70 days of dithering, this Agreement is the best our main parties can come up with, then perhaps it is time to call a new General Election?


John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee Tel: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: [email protected]
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland