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6 things every rural person should know about Ireland’s climate policy

As Ireland’s political parties drive ahead with what they call one of the most “ambitious” climate policies in the world, here are 6 things that every rural person should know about how this will impact their lives.

1. Ireland’s climate policy costs rural jobs

It’s no secret that climate policies have a price, and part of that price is a significant negative impact on the rural economy.

For example, Ireland’s oldest NGO, An Taisce, which receives €3.5 million per year in taxpayer funding, has repeatedly objected to the construction of a Glanbia cheese plant in Co. Kilkenny, citing the government’s climate targets as a concern.

According to An Taisce:

“Ireland has made explicit commitments to conform to EU Directives and to the climate targets of the Paris Accord. A factory of the scale proposed which will require a supply of an estimated 450 million litres of milk annually – over 5% of all milk produced in Ireland – would have a material negative impact on the capacity of the dairy sector in Ireland to meet those commitments.”

Glanbia, which has 4,500 farmer suppliers, has been scuppered over and over again by An Taisce, which repeatedly has appealed court rulings granting permission for the plant to be built.

As Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said: “This plant would create many jobs and support the agri-food sector and the region. An Taisce’s fanatical stance shows no understanding for the common good.”

Additionally, Bord na Mona, in an effort to pursue climate policies, has wound down its harvesting and production of peat products, leading to hundreds of job losses in the midlands, and hurting other native industries such as the horticulture sector, which employs thousands around Ireland.

This is to say nothing of the closure of power stations all over the country.

All in all, green policies spell bad news for rural jobs.

2. It will become much harder for people to heat their homes

In an effort to combat climate change, the government has announced a nationwide ban on smoky solid fuel, including types of coal, briquettes and wood. Moreover, carbon tax has been increasing annually and will continue to do so, making home heating oil and similar products significantly more expensive.

As a cherry on top, groups like the Single Electricity Market Operator have warned that a shortfall of power that could lead to blackouts is arising because of the retirement of the peat power stations, as well as low wind expected for renewable energy, unexpected outages at two stations, and a delay in maintenance due to government-imposed Covid restrictions.

The Department of the Environment even said that energy blackouts this winter “can never be ruled out.”

While there were initially plans to prevent this, the government recently announced they would be abandoning the emergency measures, effectively resigning the country to its fate.

3. The government are still opening data centres

Even as rural Ireland is being punished for its contribution to climate change, electricity-guzzling data centres are still popping up all over the country, including one worth €1.2 billion in Ennis, Co. Clare.

This planned centre would consume 200 megawatts – the equivalent to 210,000 homes.

There are now 70 operational data centres in Ireland, and Dublin is the largest data centre hub in Europe.

Not only do these put huge strain on the power grid weakened by green policies according to Eirgrid, increasing the likelihood of blackouts, but they run on fossil fuels and contribute hugely to the supposed problem that politicians say they want to stop.

4. It has serious transport implications

Famously, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan was mocked mercilessly for suggesting that only 1 in 10 families should have a car.

As bad as this would be in the city, of course it is totally impossible and unworkable in the country, where some people live miles from the nearest shop.

But this plan may soon be a reality if the government get their way. They’re planning to outright ban petrol and diesel cars, along with the internal combustion engine, by 2030.

Even the cheapest hybrid electric cars cost over €26,000, and many mid-range cars come closer to €40,000, which is far more than many people would be willing to spend on a car. While grants exist to help pad the cost, the government has announced that these will be halved, making them even less accessible to ordinary people. It’s not a stretch to imagine that they may eventually be cut altogether.

Additionally, the Department has said that this move was partially made because Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) actually give off more emissions than manufacturers let on, and are, in fact, not as good for the environment as previously believed.

The goal of these measures is clear – to “force people out of their cars” and either onto public transport, or, where that’s not viable, like in the country, into overpriced electric vehicles.

The government intends to continually increase the tax on traditional fuels until it becomes so financially burdensome that most people can’t afford to drive their cars, and then after a decade of this just outright ban them altogether.

5. Ireland’s contributions to man-made carbon emissions are 0.1% of the world total

You’ll often hear about how Ireland has one of the highest per capita carbon emissions in the EU. Which may be true.

But do you know what else is true? Our overall emissions comprise 0.1% of the world total according to the EU Commission.

What this means in real terms is that if the entire island of Ireland ceased to exist tomorrow – no cars, no planes, no trains, no factories or TVs or power stations – the world’s entire global carbon emissions would go down by one tenth of one percent. As in, so little it’s hardly measurable.

If you were in a boat that was taking on water, and you bailed out 0.1% of the water, do you think that would be enough to save you? I think not. There is no way we can meaningfully impact that climate one way or the other.

And yet all of these green policies are done with a goal of halving our emissions by 2030. Which is to say, we need to get to half of 0.1%. It’s ludicrous.

Meanwhile, China contributes more to carbon emissions than every other country in the developed world – combined.

China contributes the same amount of Carbon to the atmosphere as Ireland in 2 days. Still think it’s worth upending our economy for?

6. The opposition supports it

As bad as the government is on all these issues, the opposition are even worse. Sinn Féin and PBP’s biggest objection to the Climate Action Bill was that it wasn’t “ambitious” enough, and that it should have been even more radical.


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