There must be a massive change of opinion in this country if people are to to be convinced of the threats of global warming, according to a number of Longford Co councillors.
Responding to a presentation from Sustainable Development Consultant, Gavin Harte, on the threats posed by global warming at last Wednesday’s Co Council meeting, Cllr Gerry Brady said there needs to a complete change of mindset for people to take the issue seriously in Longford.“Where can we say in Ireland that we’re not going to burn turf? We’re not going to use oil? Where are the alternatives and the the incentives to do that? Look at what happened in Roscommon with turf recently; they cut turf despite everyone.
“We’ve an awful job to convince people it [global warming] is real. What is the government doing about renewal sources of energy? We have abundant solar energy, wind and wave energy but we’re not making use of it,” the Fine Gael councillor said.
“I would put up a wind turbine, for argument’s sake, on my land if the ESB would take 80 percent of the excess energy off it, but they won’t do that. Unless we start thinking as a nation about renewal energy we’re going nowhere. It’s lip service and they’ll continue to cut turf and burn oil and nothing will change,” Cllr Brady added.
The issue of the costs of alternatives was also raised at the meeting by a number of the councillors.
“It’s very commendable to be aware of the issues but of particular concern to people is the cost of this. In order for to us to be able to influence people in the community, we need to know that they will be able to affect change at minimal cost. We need to focus on little things people can change that are budget neutral,” Cllr Padraic Loughrey said.
Cllr John Duffy was equally as cautious in his approach to the issue. “It’s very hard for me to sell this to the people I represent in North Longford. All we do is burn a lock of turf in the fire as we have done for 300 years, and if we stop burning turf it’s not going to make a bit of difference. It’s China and India and all these industrialized places that are causing all the trouble.”
Several comparisons were made to Irish efforts to tackle the crisis being undermined by the actions of larger, more industrialized nations. With Cllr Denis Glennon saying: “It’s a very complex issue. You’re here to make the issue local and yet the whole thing is global. Whatever is done in the developed world can be actually offset by the actions of other countries.
“How do we get the other countries to row in behind the campaign against global warming? We can solve our problem here in Ireland but the whole thing can become irrelevant unless the rest of the planet follow suit,” the Fianna Fáil representative said.
In response, Mr Harte responded that per head of capita, developed countries such as Ireland use more Co2 than developing countries such as China. “Per capita a person in Ireland creates 17 tonnes of Co2 in comparison to 3 tonnes per head in China. China has also become the factory for Europe, where a lot of our manufacturing takes place, so we still have a responsibility there that we cannot forget,” Mr Harte responded.