Energy crisis reminder: Almost every party voted for Climate Bill

Yesterday’s date – June 16th – was the one year anniversary of an event which many Irish politicians should be highly embarrassed about but likely aren’t: the final Dáil vote on Eamon Ryan’s radical Climate Action Bill.

Bear in mind that when I say “radical” here, I’m not using that as an insult to be unfair to him; Ryan himself freely admits that the bill is a “radical departure for Ireland…which will change our economy and society at every level.”

In other words, its purpose, according to the main guy behind it, was to radically transform “how we heat our homes, generate power, move around our country, grow our food and run our businesses” in pursuit of “radical” environmentalist goals. That was the whole point from the outset, in his own words.

The bill commits Ireland to strict, legally-binding targets to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions by any means necessary. And this time last year, TDs had a final opportunity to vote on this legislation.

Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021: Report and Final Stages – June 16th 2021

Of the 139 votes cast at the time, a staggering 129 votes were in favour, with only a measly 10 opposed – only Peadar Toibín of Aontú, the Rural Independents, and a handful of other indos voted “níl” – the full list can be found here.

By contrast, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Greens, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, Labour and the Social Democrats unanimously voted “tá,” along with most Leftwing independents. With a few notable exceptions, basically the entire Irish political system voted for this in unified lockstep.

Now, a year later, in the midst of a brutal cost of living crisis, why is this relevant?

Well, in short, because the current cost of living crisis is primarily an energy crisis created by green policies – whether our leaders are willing to admit it or not.

Of course, inflation and the overprinting of money plays a big part in the problem, as does Russia’s war in Ukraine – that’s as true as it is obvious. But fundamentally, the biggest price increases eating into household budgets are motor fuel and electricity. And as much as politicians would like to attribute this to global factors beyond their control, those costs were already beginning to rise long before Russian tanks rolled into Ukrainian territory.

As the Irish Times reported in September of last year, a full 5 months before the Ukraine invasion began:

“Energy bills: why are prices rising so dramatically? – Gas supplies are low across Europe with pressure on food chain and power prices.”

The article described how, at that time, the wholesale natural gas price had surged 250% since the start of the year.

And that trend has continued since, leading to the rat sandwich we currently face – 550,000 households in the Republic living in energy poverty, and many more likely to join them in the near future.

Unless Putin has gotten his dastardly claws on a time machine to go back and mess with the European energy market a year ago, that probably means the war is not the primary cause of the problem we now face. It’s a contributing factor, sure – but it’s not the cause.

It’s much more likely, upon closer examination, that high energy prices are due to EU governments like our own shutting down fossil fuel power stations like it’s a sport for years, and crippling the bloc’s domestic energy supply and independence.

We’ve covered before just how many European governments have shut down power stations recently (spoiler alert – it’s a lot).

And it’s no secret that the government in this country has gone to great lengths to shut down “pristine” power stations, banning the sale of turf, banning offshore oil and gas exploration, and so on.

The government and opposition parties like Sinn Féin even agree that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals have no place in Ireland for environmental reasons – even despite the crisis we face.

And all of this means that, when disaster strikes (like a war in eastern europe, for example), and the market is sent into turmoil, suddenly we have much less domestic energy supply to fall back on, and we have to pay through the nose for heating, fuel and so on.

This is also why many seemingly unrelated items which have increased in price, like food, can be at least partially attributed to the energy problems – if fuel is more expensive, then the cost of transporting all physical goods goes up. And that increased price is passed on to the consumer in the form of pricier eggs, milk, bread, clothes, etcetera.

Even services cost more – if a shop owner’s electricity bill has skyrocketed, he has to put up prices across the board to make ends meet.

In other words, of course factors like inflation play a part. But all-in-all, the main root of the problem comes back, ultimately, to Europe’s lack of energy independence. And that is a direct consequence of green policies like the Climate Action Bill – the same Climate Action Bill which both the government and most of the opposition unanimously supported.

In fact, parties like Sinn Féin and People Before Profit were giving out to the government at the time that the bill did not go far enough on green issues, dubbing it a “betrayal” of the green movement.

If Europe had an intact energy sector, with functioning LNG terminals and the like, we would be much less vulnerable to economic shocks and fluctuations in the market. And yet governments and oppositions across the continent have worked hard to dismantle our energy infrastructure and lead to the disastrous situation we’re now experience.

So Leo Varadkar and Pearse Doherty can get as loud and obstreperous as they like in the Dáil, letting insults and accusations fly back and forth between them for a viral news clip.

Hell – they could even have a pay-per-view cagematch on RTÉ Sport to settle their grievances, and tear strips off each other for the public’s amusement (my money’s on Varadkar in Round 4, for what it’s worth – he’s bigger and probably has longer reach with the jab).

But none of this would change the fact that these exchanges are all theatre and pantomime. It doesn’t change the fact that both the government and the opposition have bought into an absolutely insane climate agenda which is radically transforming our lives as promised – for the worse. And as a result, we should never forget these Dáil decisions and who is responsible for enabling these policies.

It’s time to face facts: the green agenda is running the economy into the ground at breakneck speed. And until we accept that, this issue will never even begin to be solved. If you can’t even diagnose a problem correctly, how are you supposed to come to grips with it?

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