Batsh*t Crazy Green Party

Figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry for March showed that registrations of new electric cars (not technically the same thing as sales, but a close corollary thereof) had fallen by a shocking 41.1 per cent compared with March 2023.
 

On point :​

Climate activist: ‘We should introduce a heavy tax on high-polluting cars like SUVs – and frequent air travel’​

Climate activist John Gibbons from Kilkenny says it’s time Ireland introduced a tax on gas-guzzling SUVs and flights should get steadily more expensive the more a person flies

“My eyes were opened to the climate emergency 21 years ago, when I had my first daughter. It’s a cliche but fatherhood really was a turning point for me. I began to think of the world she would grow up in. It was the first time in my life that I thought beyond the next two months.

Maybe it was serendipity, but around the same time I read a book called Something New Under the Sun by J.R. McNeill, which is basically a history book of the biosphere of Earth in the 20th century. It explained, in exquisite detail, how humans have overreached and how we are essentially exhausting the critical resources for life on Earth. I was astounded that I had gone through a good chunk of my adult life completely oblivious to the ecological, biodiversity and climate emergency. And that shock never fully left me. How is it possible to be surrounded by so much information and yet to be so unaware?

I’m not a traditional tree hugger. I’m a journalist and I also run a business, which I set up over 30 years ago. I’m an employer, I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve had some success. Capitalism has been good to me.
Everything about my background is not what you might expect from a climate campaigner. But the evidence I was confronted with was so overwhelming and compelling that I had no choice, in my mind, to change direction in my life.

People sometimes ask me, ‘What happened?’ And ‘Why have you become so obsessed with this?’ All I can say is that you can’t unsee it. It was as profound as that, quite frankly, like the BC and AD periods of my life.

I think a lot of people sense, at a very deep level, that something really bad is unfolding. But we don’t really want to talk about it. It’s similar to the fear of talking about dying. I think a lot of people are sensing, if you like, the pain of the world but they don’t know what to do with it. I completely understand that it makes them feel very uncomfortable so they want to shut that conversation down.


The problem is that climate destruction and ecological breakdown threatens our very sense of security. We expect to grow old, to see the next generation take over and for life to continue. That’s the normal cycle of how we perceive life. But what we face now is a discontinuation of that cycle and a very real prospect in this century of a complete breakdown of human civilisation — and unfortunately that is no exaggeration.

At the moment I would say the odds are widely in favour of wide-scale social, political and economic collapse within the next 25 years. That’s the future where our children have to live. I don’t say this in an abstract way. This possibility is right in front of us. There is a reasonable chance of a very bad outcome, perhaps even a global mass-extinction event. So do we act now or pay later? Because we can no longer look away.

We see in surveys that there is a very poor level of understanding of climate change among Irish people and this idea that we will not be negatively affected. We have an island mentality where we think, ‘It’s very bad for the Californians, for the South Africans, but we’ll be OK in Ireland’. It’s a strange type of human psychology, a cognitive bias, that it will happen to someone else but not to us.

Because of our maritime, temperate climate, we have so far been buffered from some of the extreme weather that other countries are experiencing. I think that speaks to why we in Ireland think it’s happening to other people somewhere else. But this type of thinking completely fails to understand that we live in a globalised world.
Climate change is a global phenomenon and I think Ireland is likely to cycle between extreme flooding events and drought, which is a huge problem for a country with seven million cattle. Even if Ireland were to survive climatically, forced climate migration would cause the collapse of our politics, economy and society anyway.

We still have the opportunity to avoid some of the worst-case scenarios, particularly for our children. But we now have to ask whether high-emission, high-impact lifestyles are, first of all, ethical and, second of all, sustainable. And the answer is absolutely not.
In Ireland, over 60pc of new car sales are SUVs — that is the highest in the European Union. We have taken to SUVs like nobody else, and I think that’s because of our close psychological alignment with America.
The SUV will create more money for car companies but the CO2 emissions of these vehicles reverse all the gains made on fuel emissions in the last 10 years, even with the arrival of the electric car. It’s incredibly frustrating that we are one step forward and two steps back.
These vehicles put pressure on our already limited city spaces. And the statistics claiming they are safer to drive are not convincing. People talk about their relative safety but if you drive an SUV and you hit a child, that child is far more likely to be killed as a result of a collision. People say ‘I’d rather drive an SUV because it keeps my kids safer’. But in a typical collision, you’re as likely to be killed in an SUV as you are in a regular car. Plus, it increases the likelihood of you killing someone else.

What do I think of the Tyre Extinguishers [a climate group slashing the tyres of SUVs]? I understand the motivation but I don’t really like the tactics. It’s criminal damage, no question about it. If you asked me would I do it? No, I wouldn’t. But I do understand the frustration that people are feeling about these vehicles.


Personally, I think the only way to deal with SUVs is through the tax system. I think we should follow the French and introduce a heavy tax on high-polluting vehicles.
Likewise, I think we should introduce a tax on frequent air travel. Aviation globally accounts for about 3.5pc of carbon emissions. It’s the fastest growing source of pollution — and Irish people do a lot of flying.
The thing about aviation is that only 15 to 20pc of the population have ever flown on an aircraft. If you’ve ever been on an aircraft, you’re already in the global elite.
People in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are getting hammered by climate change and that climate change is being fuelled by an activity they are not contributing to.
It’s about climate justice and I think the fair way to deal with it is through a quota that introduces a tax levy after a certain amount of air miles. Obviously there would be some leeway in the case of bereavement and genuine emergencies, but we should have a system where flights get steadily more expensive, the more a person flies.

Right now we’re seeing a lot of gesture politics with carbon-offsetting schemes, which are either massively ineffective or scams. Instead, we need policy changes at a government level to address climate change. We have to acknowledge how high-impact lifestyles are reversing climate progress. We can’t look away anymore.“

 
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