We have referred before to how, despite the fact that the Great National Project to reach Zero Carbon has been elevated to somewhere near the same status as one of Stalin’s Five Year Plans, the evidence consistently appears to point to the opposite being the case.
Statistics released yesterday by Eurostat show that the Irish state is not only not leading the way in this great endeavour but that it is the single worst case of boldness. The evidence from the first three months of 2023 points to Ireland having been pretty much way ahead of everyone else in pumping out the old CO2.
The level of emissions fell across nearly all of the EU and Eurozone and only increased in six states, with Ireland and Latvia being significantly ahead of the rest.
Latvia, in common with the Irish state, has also seen recent economic growth compared to general stagnation overall. The growth rate for the Irish economy for 2023 has been estimated at over 4% and has consistently increased since 2021.
In fact, given that the emissions are measured as a % of Gross National Product (GDP), the level of the deviancy of the Irish state from the EU average is even greater. That related to another one of the Potemkin villages of the Irish elite; GDP does not represent the total of the wealth made and retained in Ireland because a large part of it is taken away in the profits of international corporations.
A not insignificant element of the carbon emissions created within the borders of the Irish state – a pretty ludicrous measure of something supposedly taking place on a global or even universal scale but we shall park that for the moment – emanates from the data centres of the tech giants.
Those same tech giants which account for much of those external transfers, and whose workforces comprise of an increasingly large proportion of people who come here from overseas and therefore contribute their own individual contribution to carbon emissions just by being here and breathing.
Which, by the way, is to cast no aspersions on any of those involved, and the macro-economic issues raised by this phenomenon are not for here. What is does do is illustrate that the aim, some might even claim the duty, of the Irish state to ensure that the conditions exist to foster economic growth is totally at odds with their other constantly reiterated commitment to Zero Carbon.
That is recognised in some of the headlines of some of the other media which have reported on the Eurostat figures (Others appear to have chosen not to report nor comment).
The general take being that “economic growth is leading to increased emissions.” Which is of course true. And which also logically implies that the achievement of the other great National Ideal and Objective is pretty much impossible unless economic growth slows comes to a standstill. Or that we even have reverse growth.
The correlation between the economy and emissions can be clearly seen in the fact that while the overall economy within the EU and Eurozone grew by just 0,1% of GDP in the first quarter of 2023, and that statistics for the EU as a whole showed zero growth for the second quarter, that carbon emissions for first quarter fell by 2.9%.
The state cannot achieve Zero Carbon while at the same time presiding over a growing economy. So, it attempts to compensate for the increased emissions that are the inevitable consequence of normal industrial activity by penalising the agricultural sector. Which in turn is directed at an almost wholly indigenous part of the economy and therefore absolves the state of the burden of having to give Zuckerberg or one of the boys a bell and have a quiet chat about data centre emissions. You and I know what the response to that call would likely be.
And yet despite the pile on against farmers for destroying the planet, the table above also shows that the level of emissions from that sector have proportionately remained stable. The most significant area of growth since the slowdown induced by the Covid lockdowns is “total activities by households.” Which basically includes everything people do from eating, heating, travel, watching TV and so on.
Which again implies that the most effective means to reduce emissions is to restrict the normal activities of people. No wonder then that many of the same enthusiasts for implementing restrictions to “save the planet” were among the leading advocates of the most extreme lockdown restrictions. Indeed, many of them not only opposed the ending of all that, but in some quarters there is a suggestion that, given the success of the lockdown in reducing carbon emissions, perhaps such restrictions ought to become the norm.
What they will never do, of course, is make the connection between opening up Europe to millions of people from Africa and Asia and Latin America and the boost which that in turn provides for “household activities” and all the other stuff that pumps out carbon.
And so in the lack of joined up thinking on the consequences for the planet and its people of allowing the interests of corporate capital and the “free movement of capital and labour” to shape the economies of the world, we blame farting cows and the lack of trees.