I could have been at home watching Manchester United v Barcelona. But I made myself a promise that I would make an effort to get more involved in local politics, and given the amount of signs I have seen around the area for this meeting in St John Bosco Youth Club, a mere ten minute walk from my front door, to not go would be to break that pledge.
The meeting was held by local councillor Hazel De Nortúin. Now when I say ‘local’, she hails from Ballyfermot, yet she represents me as Drimnagh has been curiously cut in two and my house falls in the ‘Ballyfermot/Drimnagh’ zone. Still, the very holding of this meeting shows that the councillor is willing to be involved throughout the ward.
Her party is People Before Profit. I confess to knowing little about them, save for assorted Facebook posts, but I do know that their name itself is closely aligned to my politics so it was a safe bet that I would feel at home in this company.
The principal speaker was Brid Smith TD and the theme was ‘Why Carbon Tax Won’t Stop Climate Change’. She began by highlighting the protest by schoolchildren all over the country, but particularly outside the Dáil. where over 15,000 were reported.
Deputy Smith also pointed to a poll which found that 39% of Irish people saw climate change as one of the most important issues of today, adding that while some might think that was a low percentage, she was actually encouraged by it.
She has recently been sitting on a Special Oirechteas Action Committee which followed on from a Citizens Assembly. She referred to it as more of an ‘Inaction’ committee because it appeared that the decision to level the carbon tax on ordinary citizens was already made.
She claimed that the supposed thinking behind the tax was that if people’s habits could be changed, ie if we can move away from carbon-intensive forms of energy, then supposedly this would influence (‘by osmosis’ as she ironically called it) the large corporations.
An interesting plan if true…especially given that when it comes to distributing wealth, corporations tend to favour things going in the opposite direction. When it comes to the carbon tax, should we call their plan “Trickle up?”
She also pointed out that even if carbon taxes did have some positive effect, they would never be enough to tackle climate change on their own, yet once implemented the government could well consider them to be a ‘catch all’ of sorts. ‘The one tool becomes the only tool’.
Next the TD covered the whole area of ‘Just Transition’ – when she explained it I knew what she meant though I had never heard it called that before. Basically when a society moves from one form of energy to another, care must be taken that the existing workers in the old service are offered the opportunity to move into the new field. Seemingly People Before Profit have been working with Bord Na Mona workers in this area.
Apparently three of the main political parties, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour, along with the Green Party, are in favour of pushing ahead with this tax, which probably means it is likely to go through.
In the interest of fairness I took some time to go over the websites of various parties to see how they presented their policy (if any) on carbon tax and/or climate change in general…
FINE GAEL – banner on homepage #TogetherOnClimate Climate Action – when you click it you see 16 links under heading of ‘progress’ none of which refer to carbon tax.
‘carbon tax’ search produced links on Special Oireachtas Committee
FIANNA FAIL – No search facility. No mention of carbon tax under section ‘tackling climate change’
LABOUR – ‘Labour’s clear preference is for ring-fencing funds from carbon taxes to pay for home retrofitting, including in local authority housing, and other ways of reducing energy poverty’
SINN FEIN – ‘Imelda Munster has criticised the agreement…to increase carbon tax four fold’
GREEN – Cuffe : ‘The aim of the carbon dividend, or carbon cheque, is to change behaviour. By placing carbon taxes and giving back what is taken to households it provides direct incentives for people to move to low carbon heating.’
SOCIAL DEMOCRATS – can’t find policy on carbon tax but policy section shows they are keen to reduce emissions
RIGHT2CHANGE 10-Point policy programme – ‘A Progressive Government will make protection of the rights of Mother Earth a Constitutional Imperative’
‘The IFA is up in arms over suggestions that people should eat less meat and drink less milk. No doubt carbon taxes will be pushed also as a key part of this debate.’
‘Women make up 70% of farmers world-wide yet only own 2% of land…they are responsible for 90% of the caloric intake of the average family’
SOLIDARITY – nothing on climate change on ‘what we stand for’ page
…just to be clear, my research for the above information was not exactly extensive. There are so many parties in the jurisdiction that it isn’t easy to keep up with them all.
As you can see my attention was drawn most to the Right2Change platform – the quotes above were taken from the Facebook page of Joan Collins TD. I like the way they constantly use phrases like “Under a Progressive Government Ireland can…” because while that may be extremely aspirational right now, if we don’t discuss and use such terminology regularly, it could remain so.
But that’s not to say I was completely turned off the PBP folks just yet. They passed around a page for names and addresses – I offered my information though I fell short of ticking the ‘Join’ box for now.
When the meeting was over a chatted for a few minutes and then left. I was first to head for the door and Deputy Smith thanked me for attending.
I’m glad I did, and I look forward to following the progress of the PBP’s resistance to the introduction of the tax.
Next on this site I’d like to start covering the various candidates standing for election to the council in May.