Peat harvesting rules relaxed - Government posturing on climate crisis

In recent weeks, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expressed a new commitment to confronting climate change.

Peat harvesting rules relaxed - Government posturing on climate crisis

In recent weeks, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expressed a new commitment to confronting climate change.

In the interim, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, attended the IFA annual meeting, where he heard a strident attack on those who question modern farming. Mr Creed did not challenge that view and therefore appeared more a non-executive director of that lobby group than a representative of all citizens.

Further afield, but also in the interim, Australia endured record heat — Tasmania is a mega-ember, with uncontrollable fires. Parts of America face bitter, life-threatening cold. It is also reported that at least a third of the huge ice fields in Asia’s towering Himalayas will melt because of climate change, with serious consequences for 2bn people.

Despite that evidence, despite Mr Varadkar’s conversion, the Friends of the Irish Environment have warned that changes to planning rules will mean commercial peat operators do not need planning permission to operate without environmental controls. The organisation criticised changes, granted by statutory instrument last week, that limit our capacity to capture carbon, as burning peat produces higher carbon dioxide emissions per unit than coal.

As ever, action speaks louder than words. Until Mr Varadkar’s Government learns to say no to commercial interests driving climate change, it will be impossible to see his climate promises as anything but cynical, vote-chasing posturing.

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