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Ireland’s Most Expensive Suicide Letter

June 27, 2020

By Paul Homewood

 

Much to the joy of Matt McGrath, Ireland is on the verge of committing economic suicide.

image

Ireland stands on the brink of putting climate change at the heart of its government if Green Party members vote in favour of a new coalition.

The new administration plans to ban fracked gas imports from the US, make steep cuts in emissions and end new drilling for oil and gas.

Agreed in talks with two larger parties, the plan now needs the support of two thirds of Green members.

But there is opposition, with some saying it is not progressive enough.

The results of voting are expected on Friday evening.

Ireland’s reputation as a clean and green country has been tarnished in recent years by the inability of successive governments to tackle carbon emissions.

Compared to the rest of the EU, Ireland is the fourth largest emitter per capita.

An agreed EU target to cut carbon by 20% by this year was missed by a country mile.

The main problems have been in transport and agriculture, with a growing national dairy herd increasing by more than a quarter in the past five years.

Voter concern over climate change saw a significant improvement in Green Party representation in parliamentary elections held in February this year.

With no one winning an overall majority, the Greens’ 12 seats made them a key partner in coalition talks, with the two largest traditional parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Delayed by the Covid-19 crisis, negotiators eventually produced an agreed programme for government.

The issues of climate change and sustainability are at the heart of it.

The proposed cuts in emissions will be enshrined in a Climate Action law, which will define how five-year carbon budgets will be set.

This idea, which would see Ireland’s emissions cut by 51% by 2030, is similar to existing legislation in the UK, and has been welcomed by scientists.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-53147271

 

Thanks to Ireland’s voting system, the Green Party, who only polled 7%, have been given a disproportionate say in this matter. Yet cutting emissions by 51% in the next decade may not even be enough for them.

At the last count in 2018, Ireland relied on fossil fuels and peat for 89% of its primary energy. Renewables supplied 10%, but about half of this was bio, with most of the other half coming from wind power:

 

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https://www.seai.ie/data-and-insights/seai-statistics/energy-data/

 

Electricity only accounts for 19% of total energy, so any further decarbonisation there will only have a limited impact on overall emissions. As far as energy is concerned, transport and residential are the major areas which will need to be tackled.

There is the usual talk of electric cars, with all new sales of conventional cars by 2030 called for. But where would the electricity come from, and how could the transmission and distribution network be transformed in such a short space of time to handle what could be a tripling of the load?

As for the idea that people should use public transport more, try telling that to people living in rural areas.

 

Ireland still relies heavily on gas, coal and peat for its electricity. It is not conceivable that power supply can be tripled in a decade, whilst at the same time closing coal and peat power plants.

Ireland is, of course, part of the All Island Grid system,  and also depends on the Moyle Interconnector to Scotland. But I doubt there will be much capacity going spare either in Ulster or the mainland, and it certainly won’t be “carbon free”.

 

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http://www.eirgridgroup.com/site-files/library/EirGrid/4289_EirGrid_GenCapStatement_v9_web.pdf

 

 

In terms of total GHGs, ie not just CO2, agriculture accounts for 33%, and more on this in a minute.

image

https://www.seai.ie/data-and-insights/seai-statistics/key-statistics/co2/#:~:text=The%20biggest%20source%20of%20greenhouse%20gas%20emissions%20in,and%2050%25%20of%20all%20non-ETS%20greenhouse%20gas%20emissions.

 

 

CO2 emissions, however, are dominated by transport and residential. Many homes, for instance, use oil for heating, and could not be readily switched to electric, particularly in rural areas.

Electric cars would also not much use in many rural locations.

image

 

Talking of which brings us back to agriculture. Most of the non-CO2 emissions are methane from livestock. Highly inconsiderately, Irish farmers keep a lot of dairy cattle, and have been so successful that the national herd has grown by more than a quarter in the past five years.

There is the usual green nonsense talked about “organic farming” and “bio energy”, but the reality is very simple – you either have a proper farming industry, or you don’t. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs any more than you can keep cattle without them breaking wind. And last time I checked, Ireland’s climate is ideal for pastoral farming.

 

The bottom line is that Ireland does not have cat in hell’s chance of cutting its emissions in half by 2030, even if it cripples its economy in the attempt.

In any normal world, its politicians would have chucked out these dopey green policies at first sight. Unfortunately its citizens will now have to pay the cost of its rulers virtue signalling.

 

 

Refs

The full Green Deal is here:

ProgrammeforGovernment_June2020_Final

 

 

UPDATE

It now appears that the Irish Greens have now approved the deal, (no doubt astonished that it was handed on a plate to them). As a consequence, a new governing coalition will be formed.

35 Comments
  1. Ray Sanders permalink
    June 27, 2020 10:58 pm

    You have just got to love the Greens in Ireland. Back in the 70’s they got super aggravated about the prospect of a Nuclear plant at Carnsore Point. They successfully stopped that notion so they could build their largest Coal plant (the aptly named Moneypoint) instead.
    And then just to really take the piss decided to have inter connectors importing nuclear generated electricity from Britain.
    But that is really no dafter than the UK – we are paying EDF to halve Sizewell B output (much too dangerous to have a large reliable and powerful plant generating on a wobbly renewables financed grid) so that when the wind doesn’t blow we can import coal generated electricity from Ireland and The Netherlands. You really could not make this shit up if you tried!

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      June 28, 2020 11:59 am

      We don’t import electricity from Ireland when the wind doesn’t blow. It’s completely the other way around. We act as a dumping ground for surplus Irish wind when it’s windy, even though we are curtailing wind farms in Scotland and dumping exports on the Continent if need be at negative prices. That allows them to keep enough inertia providing coal and CCGT capacity to keep their grid stable. When the wind drops the Irish are short of power, so have to import via Moyle, which will be largely nuclear when Hunterston is running and the E-W link from Deeside which will probably mainly be CCGT from Connah’s Quay. This chart illustrates how it works

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        June 28, 2020 1:36 pm

        Note that when demand is low overnight and they are export capacity constrained they have to curtail wind in order to maintain sufficient inertia providing generation. This was from 2017, so added wind farms will exacerbate the situation now and in future. The large scale curtailment on the 16th/17th is the consequence of Storm Ophelia, when hurricane force winds swept through, forcing feathering of blades for safety reasons.

        We’re getting to a similar situation in GB. Look at what happened on 23rd April – exporting surplus wind and curtailment in order to maintain adequate inertia from CCGT, nuclear and biomass, while taking in the Irish surplus:

        https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/nfado/2/

        And some heavily negative prices:

        https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/IGVyF/1/

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        June 28, 2020 3:56 pm

        Footnote for Paul: I don’t know whether you want to try this (or even how well it works):

        https://wordpress.org/plugins/datawrapper-oembed/

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      June 28, 2020 8:50 pm

      No you are wrong. Right now we are importing from The Netherlands, Ireland and Northern Ireland and all of them are burning coal in their generation. Wind is not a particularly large provider at the moment.
      https://www.electricitymap.org/map

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        June 28, 2020 9:19 pm

        Ray – try this:
        https://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

        I have no idea what the link you gave is trying to convey, but we are getting near 9GW from wind at the mo – and importing/exporting mere MW to Ireland or anywhere else.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        June 28, 2020 9:35 pm

        http://www.eirgridgroup.com/how-the-grid-works/system-information/

        (their main more detailed dashboard isn’t working at the moment)

        Lots of wind curtailment right now. Forecast wind generation was around 4GW, which is more than demand. Peak wind admitted to the grid was 2.9GW at 18:00. It’s running at about 60% of generation, which is about as high as they dare go for grid stability reasons.

  2. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 27, 2020 11:21 pm

    UK meat production is supposedly very efficient in terms of GHG emissions, presumably Ireland is similar. You could make the argument that Irish farming/meat eating should be encouraged in order to save the Amazon from the vegan/cattle feed soy plantations.

    The way to reduce meat related GHG emissions globally is to encourage home consumption rather than importing meat from less efficient countries. Ireland must grow some of the best grass and require the least feed in the world – the Emerald Isle!

    But Europe wants to destroy their farming:

    “The IIEA analysis suggests that just focusing on technical fixes in agriculture is insufficient, and that the structure of Irish agriculture also needs to be looked at. ‘The heavy reliance on suckler beef systems in particular,’ Mr Curtin said, ‘is neither economically nor environmentally sustainable in a post-milk quota and carbon-constrained world.’

    And for what? Removing Irish meat production/consumption will make nest to no noticeable difference globally going by 2010 figures from TheConversation (ha!).

    https://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-meat-means-emissions-so-which-countries-are-doing-the-most-damage-34318

    And of course if energy becomes expensive, people will resort to burning wood and peat.
    A ban would be all but unenforceable in a country like Ireland.

    • June 28, 2020 8:53 am

      Ireland is covered in grass, which you can’t eat or use to make things, hence why cows and sheep have been solving that problem for centuries. Ignorance, fear and greed combine to make obvious economic facts unsaid.

    • June 28, 2020 10:44 pm

      But these supposed GHG’s are not altering the climate.

  3. Geoff B permalink
    June 27, 2020 11:30 pm

    The greens are their own worst enemy. Just let them get on with reducing Ireland to third world status. We can stand back and eventually say the immortal words ” I told you so”

  4. It doesn't add up... permalink
    June 27, 2020 11:39 pm

    The BP data for 2019 show energy consumption of

    Oil 322PJ (50%)
    Gas 191PJ (29%)
    Coal 40PJ (6%)
    Hydro 8PJ (input equivalent – 0.9TWh generated) (1%)
    Renewables 95PJ (input equivalent – 10.6TWh generated) (14%)

    Total primary energy 663PJ (input equivalent)

    Total electricity generation 30.7TWh

    CO2 emissions 37.7 million tonnes (N.B. only CO2 – not methane etc.)

    Halving their energy consumption would take them back to the levels of 50 years ago – when the population was 2.9 million, not the present 5.7 million. So a halving of per capita living standards would be needed. They will of course blame Brexit.

    It is an object lesson in the folly of using a PR voting system that gives undue levels of power to minorities. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is at risk because of its foolish decision to rely on electricity from the South when the wind doesn’t blow. They better get on with that Belfast Harbour CCGT for a start. But both UK and NI politicians will doubtless “fail” to spot the canary having left the coal mine.

  5. June 28, 2020 2:47 am

    The long held Asian dream of the “Asian Century”, when Asians take over from the Europeans as the masters of the world, had seemed an impossible dream until the Europeans drank the climate juice and became hell bent on committing economic suicide.

    Thank you.

    Time for you guys to start learning some Sanskrit and Chinese just as we had to learn English, eh?

  6. June 28, 2020 6:27 am

    Allowing the minority Green Party into Coalition Government will have the same disastrous impact in Eire as allowing the minority LibDems into Camoron’s coalition government did for the UK in 2010. In the UK we got the LimpDim’s incompetent and corrupt Chris Huhne followed by the incompetent Ed (Mr Potato) Davey as Secretaries of State for Energy and Climate Change. We are still paying the price for their policies (not that things have got any better since they were booted out).

    • Gerry, England permalink
      June 28, 2020 12:01 pm

      Your assumption here is that Call Me Dave didn’t want a coalition government but as a centre left liberal he most certainly did and was happy to use it as an excuse not to do anything expected of a Tory government. He was hoping to continue the liberal government for a second term but sadly for him he won an overall victory in 2015 stopping him from hiding behind the coalition. And hence of course he could not run away from his promise to hold an EU referendum having already done so once before.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        June 28, 2020 1:02 pm

        Spot on. He even went public that he wanted a coalition government, claiming “not a cigarette paper of difference” with the Lib Dems, writing for the Observer when enjoying a 17 point poll lead, some six months ahead of the 2010 election.

  7. Coeur de Lion permalink
    June 28, 2020 7:12 am

    Except that I love Ireland, it’s going to be fun to watch. Today’s Thunbergian industrial catastrophe has had no effect on CO2 level (as yet?). So what effect will Irish policies have? Not that it matters to global warming in the slightest.

  8. Robin Guenier permalink
    June 28, 2020 8:22 am

    According to a recent (16 June) Irish Times poll, only 8% of respondents think ‘Tackling Climate Change’ should be a top priority for the government: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/poll. A comment from David Quinn in last week’s Sunday Times:

    Only 8% of the Irish public believe that tackling climate change should be the next government’s top priority…This low percentage didn’t stop Fine Gael and Fianna Fail caving into the Green Party’s very far-reaching demand that we cut our carbon emissions in half over the next 10 years. The capitulation raises questions about the nature of Irish democracy.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      June 28, 2020 9:07 am

      The two main (and largely indistinguishable) parties are shifting the Irish economy in order to keep themselves in power and Sinn Fein (the largest vote) out. I have no sympathies with Sinn Fein politically, but this is a stich-up of the electorate and I suspect will be punished as such. Ireland’s farmers are already nervous about Brexit and this Green nonsense will make them angry. Its not going to end well but no doubt the young ish middle class virtue-seekers in Dublin don’t care.

  9. June 28, 2020 9:02 am

    At least we’ll have the spectacle of which climate-obsessed European country will pointlessly crash its economy first. Place your bets 🙄

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      June 28, 2020 9:08 am

      Germany, followed by Ireland then the UK. Italy is already dead from other causes!

  10. saighdear permalink
    June 28, 2020 10:08 am

    Aye, the Irish, you couldn’t make it up…..what’s all happening there: but they can! Just be careful what is wished for: those Pixies et al. Bord na Mona springs to mind too.

  11. Mad Mike permalink
    June 28, 2020 10:25 am

    Well, I suppose somebody had to do and i’m pleased it wasn’t us, although it looks like it’s coming, albeit a bit further down the road. Economic suicide will be painful to watch but a lot worse to experience. This exercise will be an eye opener for us here and there will time enough for us to reverse our path. There will be spin on the disaster of course but the public, especially the Irish, are not fools and will see the folly for what it is.

    If I recall correctly the Good Friday Agreement allows for people to live either side of the border. In which case the NI Government had better start building lots of homes.

  12. June 28, 2020 10:36 am

    OT but indicative of the crap order we are in:-

    ‘National Grid’s blackout boss John Pettigrew lands £5m payday’

    “The National Grid boss who presided over last year’s blackouts has reaped £5.3m.

    John Pettigrew’s £1m salary was swollen by £3.9m in share bonuses, which he must hold for at least two years. His package increased from £4.7m a year earlier.

    Pettigrew, 51, who joined National Grid in 1991, was thrust into a storm last August when the simultaneous failure of a wind farm and gas-fired power plant caused mass blackouts. It left passengers stranded on trains and caused part of Ipswich hospital to lose power……”

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/national-grids-blackout-boss-john-pettigrew-lands-5m-payday-wgfx6vbvs

  13. grammarschoolman permalink
    June 28, 2020 11:41 am

    Well, if they do this quickly and Ireland’s economy collapses, maybe it’ll bring everybody else in other countries to their collective senses.

  14. MrGrimNasty permalink
    June 28, 2020 12:09 pm

    UK’s laughable bio-security strikes again.

    https://www.southeastfarmer.net/section/fruit/fruit-fly-can-wipe-out-entire-crops

    I’ve never had a problem before, early Cherries were ‘bomb-proof’ in my garden, 95+% loss this year.

    I predict CountryFile will blame climate change for the spread.

  15. Harry Passfield permalink
    June 28, 2020 3:03 pm

    I dream that Deben, Miliband, Ward and Attenborough et al will apply for Irish Citizenship so they can advise on what needs to be done. As I said, in my dreams

  16. Smithy permalink
    June 28, 2020 3:03 pm

    Thank God we don’t have PR in the UK. It grants an inordinate amount of power to the party that comes third as it results in never-ending coalitions.

    • John Cullen permalink
      June 28, 2020 6:43 pm

      Hello Smithy,

      PR is not the only problem for a democracy. In the UK (but also in Washington and Brussels) there is a huge amount of lobbying which allows those with deep pockets to distort the democratic process through secret lobbying. For further details see Cave & Rowell, “A Quiet Word – lobbying, crony capitalism and broken politics in Britain”, Vintage, 2015.

      Ordinary people do not have that amount of clout and so can largely be ignored and lectured down to (e.g. with the utterly misnamed ‘virtue signalling’) between general elections. It is time to up-date our democracies.

      Regards,
      John Cullen.

  17. Mewswithaview permalink
    June 28, 2020 11:25 pm

    Politically the establishment in Dublin has their eye on Brussels its really Berlin and “free” money from the ECB as part of the “great reset”. They cannot be stupid enough to ignore the protests in France and the Netherlands, therefore the Greens are there to be sacrificed when the Irish public get angry and ultimately turns to Sinn Fein (a national socialist party) who could have elected more TDs (MPs) had they run enough candidates in the recent election. The Dublin establishment hates Sinn Fein, however, the working class (actual workers not the welfare class) have swung in their direction due to the high cost of living. Green voters are primarily urban middle class virtue signallers and green policies in Ireland do not directly impact their constituents who have easy access to public services and employment instead they affect the rural population in Ireland and the suburban working class i.e. those people who get up early in the morning to make sure the bread is delivered and coffee shops are opened for said middle class. Only EU money and preventing Sinn Fein taking power unites the parties that have formed the government.

    Currently the country is trundling along in an inertia created by the political decisions taken as part of the Covid response. Use of public transport has collapsed in the country, the trains and buses still run but occupancy is limited (e.g. max 17 people on a double-decker bus that can take 110 capacity) and empty buses are frequently observed, yet they run a complete schedule. I don’t know where they will get the money to cover the eye watering losses they must be running up. That;s just one example there are more collapses in the pipeline later this year with no way to bail them out. The tax system is already at its limits in Ireland in the wake of the 2008-2012 collapse and bank bailouts, they tried to push taxation higher only a tax revolt ensued coalescing around “Irish Water”. It has only been the ECB negative interest rates and bond buying program that has kept the Irish establishment from collapse. Almost all economic growth since the 2012 has been driven by the multinational sector and tax efficiency, the establishment has to walk a fine line as EU (and the British) governments are also facing a problem with falling tax revenue and need new sources of income.

    The governments only way forward is a combination of default and inflation.

  18. Mikehig permalink
    July 1, 2020 7:59 pm

    With regard to agricultural emissions, there is much pre-occupation with the impact of methane which is often described as many times more potent than CO2 in its GHG effects.
    This scare-mongering always misses – or deliberately ignores – a key characteristic of methane.
    True, on its own in dry, laboratory conditions it has been shown to be 50 – 80 times “stronger” than CO2. However its absorption spectrum overlaps to a great extent with that of water vapour. As we know, the concentration of WV in the atmosphere is many thousands of times that of methane.
    So, in the real world, any GHG effect of methane is largely swamped by the presence of water vapour – something that is not exactly in short supply in NI!

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