Credit: Jake Cunningham /

FLASHBACK: Eamon Ryan suggests rural families share one car for every ten households

Two years ago this week, Eamon Ryan stirs controversy by suggesting that rural families share just one car for every ten households

At the time Gript Editor John McGuirk wrote: 

One of the problems that the Green movement has is that every so often it has to tell the truth about what it actually wants. This doesn’t happen very often, of course – most of the time they get away unchallenged with benign sermons about the new green economy and a just transition and how veganism is, actually, good for you and all that stuff.

But of course, if we are to get to zero carbon by 2050 or 2030 or in fact at any time prior to the construction and deployment of working nuclear fusion reactors, the truth is that most of the changes that would have to be made are very unpleasant indeed. Yesterday morning, Eamon Ryan was somewhat forced into revealing one:


How on earth would that work?

How does one car making ten journeys emit less carbon than ten cars making one journey each?

Can you imagine having to share a single car amongst ten families in a rural village, or, indeed, anywhere? You want to visit your sick mother in the hospital thirty miles away, but the family next door has their niece’s wedding on the other side of the country that weekend. You work as a nurse starting at 4pm this week, but everyone else who works normal hours is pooling the car to take them to their 9-5 job.

There will be those who will say, of course, that most journeys could be catered to by public transport – and of course, improved public transport would suit a lot of people, particularly in large urban areas. But of course, the thing about public transport is that it operates to the public’s schedule, not to yours. The genius of the private car, and the reason it is so popular, is the freedom it provides. Public transport cannot replicate that freedom, no matter how hard it tries, or how good the service is.

You will never be able to get up in the morning and decide that you are going to Killarney or Westport or Courtown for the day, because the chances are that using public transport to get to those places would involve military style planning of timetables, and an overnight stay.

Taking away the car, or forcing ten families to share a car, would dramatically reduce the freedom of the average person, and would likely make them poorer financially and emotionally. Having to consult your neighbours every time you decide to visit your family would be a horror show for most people, and that is before you consider the rows and bad blood that would inevitably arise. So, why on earth is he proposing this?

On one level, it’s just honesty. The truth about the climate movement is that it knows that its own beliefs require the functional abolition of private transport, starting with the car and ending with the aeroplane. Your free moving around the planet is one of the number one causes of carbon emissions. Electric cars are all very well, but even they need to be charged, and most electricity production still emits carbon.

Second, there’s a sub-set of voters to whom this kind of nonsense appeals. The idea of us all living and working communally, sharing resources, building a caring community – all that high-minded, unworkable rubbish. You almost certainly know somebody who thinks like this. The problem with it is that it ignores human nature, and the jealousies and bitterness that arises when people are given even the slightest bit of power over other people. Can you imagine somebody inventing a family crisis that they absolutely have to attend on the same day that those snobs next door were due to go to the airport for their fancy holiday? Eamon Ryan, and those voters he is targeting, absolutely cannot.

The good news is that this idea is so transparently bonkers that there isn’t a hope in hell of it being implemented in our lifetimes, assuming you are smart enough to keep your vote well away from Green candidates.

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