A forked approach to collective action

A letter from An Taisce's director James Nix featured today (29th May) in the Financial Times.

Sir, The EU should become a single purchaser for gas, suggests Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister (“Europe should unite to break Moscow’s grip on gas”, April 22). Mr Tusk also argues that “Europe should make full use of the fossil fuels available, including coal and shale gas”, adding that nations should not be prevented if they want to “extract minerals”.

In buying gas, Mr Tusk likes collective action. But to maintain climate stability, he doesn’t like collective action at all, contending, essentially, that greater flexibility for fossil fuel use should take precedence over maintaining our environment.

How bewildering this stance is: to ease the short-term threat of being cold over the winter months, the EU should act together. But to minimise the medium and long-term threat to the reasonably stable climate we have enjoyed for tens of thousands of years, he weighs in against the collective EU approach.

In outlining his ideas, Mr Tusk refers to the solidarity shared by the founding fathers of the European Union who laid the foundations for today’s EU with the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952.

If they saw Mr Tusk’s plan to cherrypick Europe’s capacity for collective action, those same founding fathers would likely take little comfort in such a forked attitude to solidarity.

James Nix, Policy Director, An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland, Dublin 8, Ireland