Climate failure: Government set to miss emissions target by “significant margin”

By James Fleming

The Irish government will miss its 2030 emissions target “by a significant margin”, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projections. Ireland had a target to reduce emissions by 51%, but it will achieve only 29% at best – if all current measures are fully implemented. Industry, transport, agriculture, and electricity are all “on a trajectory to exceed their national ceilings…”

The government’s failures occur in the context of apocalyptic wildfires across the world and the approaching El Niño, which “will bring unprecedented scorching temperatures globally” over the next five years. Ultimately, the targets that countries set themselves are insufficient and unenforceable, and even those paltry objectives are not being achieved.

Green Party policies bound to fail

Reaching the 2030 target, “now requires implementing policies that deliver emission reductions across all sectors of the economy in the short term”, according to the EPA. However, having failed to respond meaningfully to climate change for decades, how can we hope establishment parties do so now? Moreover, will such targets be achieved fairly and rationally, or will working-class people foot the bill for this as we invariably do for every capitalist crisis? There has been and can be no climate justice under capitalism.

The government parties, including the Green Party, have been unwilling to take on the big profiteers from environmental destruction. Indeed, the establishment hopes to somehow solve the climate crisis by continuing with the same economic system that is causing the climate crisis in the first place – an impossible “solution”.

Capitalism is a system of human exploitation and environmental destruction. Capitalist growth is coupled with human misery. As Una Mullally wrote in The Irish Times, “It wasn’t until we were a rich nation that tents on the streets became commonplace”. It is also coupled with environmental destruction. 

For example, Census 2022 data showed that as the economy grows, car usage is increasing and public transport usage is declining. There was a 4% increase in car usage and a 4% decrease in public transport usage compared to 2016. Public transport for workers in Ireland has long been inadequate and successive governments have failed to make sufficient improvements. Many workers have no choice but to spend large portions of their wages on cars to get to and from work. 

A movement to save the planet 

Ultimately, the wealthy owners and their political representatives are not incentivised to save our world; just the opposite. They aim to exploit it further for profit. Their concern is not for the land they own, its biodiversity and environment, but whatever personal wealth they can extract from it. Likewise, the “practical” business person’s consideration is not for the welfare of the people they employ but to what extent they can be used to maximise their profits. 

But there is an alternative: pressure from below by an organised working class that can replace the miserable, destructive capitalist system with a democratic socialist reorganisation of society. That means building the protests, labour strikes, and youth climate strikes we’ve seen in recent years into a powerful movement to save the planet — by making capitalism extinct. 

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