Election Manifestos summary – Irish Times

One day to go until the General Election and the Irish Times today managed to distill the main points of each of the major party’s manifestos in key policy areas. I can’t find the data online but you can get it all in a comprehensive table on pages 6-7 of the print edition of the paper.

For more specific info on the the environmental and sustainability aspects of the manifestos, see Cara Augustenborg’s blog at:


ENFO explains it all

I’ve been trying to make sense of environmental legistlation in Ireland recently and I’ve finally found a site that explains it all – ENFO, the Government’s environmental education service. It’s ostensibly targeted towards school students but…well, it’s a lot more straightforward than trying to read EU Directives and extracts from the Irish Statute Book. On Monday morning.

The link below is ENFOs introduction to “who does what” in terms of Irish environmental policy. If you click on the arrows to the right below the short blurb it will bring you to specific articles on a number of areas including air quality, water, waste and climate change. Each article contrains useful information and lots of good links.


Environment election hustings GE2016

Last night Young Friends of the Earth and advocacy group the Environmental Pillar (http://environmentalpillar.ie/) hosted a much needed Environment election hustings in Dublin city centre. At the top table were representatives of six of the main political parties, and the discussion was chaired by Irish Times journalist Sylvia Thompson.

The format of the hustings was an effective one; five questions, from five different environmental NGOs, were put to the panel, and after each question, each party representative was allowed about two minutes for their answer. While this meant no audience Q&A, it did make for pertinent questions and efficient answers.

The politicians present, who are standing for election unless otherwise stated, were:

  • Richard Boyd Barrett (People before Profit)
  • Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin) – MEP not standing for election
  • Robert Dowds (Labour) – outgoing TD not standing for election
  • Mary Fitzpatrick (Fianna Fáil)
  • Cáit Keane (Fine Gael) – Senator not standing for election
  • Eamonn Ryan (Green Party)

Each individual’s response to each of the five questions is presented in the all-conquering table below (apologies for the quality of the image). Disclaimer alert: the questions are not transcribed verbatim, and the same goes for the politicians’ answers, these are my notes on what they said, so no indignant politicians ringing me up please.


A couple of observations on the above: I always feel that these events are weighted in favour of the opposition parties – much easier to say “of course we would do this and this” than to defend what you have or have not actually done. So it is normal that the Fine Gael representative was the only one using phrases like “be realistic”, and not making promises on fracking, peat burning etc.

A point worth noting is that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour could have sent their official spokesperson on the environment (hello Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly?) rather than someone with an interest in the area, as the difference in understanding and knowledge was apparent at times. Lynn Boylan and Eamon Ryan in particular are experts on the environment.

Finally, perhaps it’s encouraging that all the parties seem to agree on some things. It looks like, no matter what, we’re going to get retrofitting of houses for energy efficiency, afforestation,investment in electric and public transport and support for small Irish businesses. And broadband. Lots and lots of broadband.

Post-Carbon Ireland

Ahead of the Irish General Election next Friday (26th February), a group of academics, under the banner of Post-Carbon Ireland, has published an open letter to all parties and candidates in the election asking the future government to set up a “citizens convention for a post-carbon Ireland”. The Group envisages the convention as a comprehensive Green Paper, providing a “shared national vision, a citizens’ charter with concrete policy parameters”, to guide policy across governments over the next three decades.

What the group has also done, which is really interesting, is write to the major political parties asking for their position on a citizens’ convention. As you can see on their website, in the “Party Positions” section, only two of the parties have responded to date. This is a particularly useful piece of work because, as I’ve found out over the last couple of weeks, it’s extremely difficult to discern each party’s position on climate change and sustainability in general. All the info and the open letter can be found on the group’s website:


In addition, one of the group’s directors, Dr Cara Augustenborg, has a good, regularly updated blog here:


Finally, tomorrow evening in the centre of Dublin, Friends of the Earth Ireland is hosting an election “hustings”, where members of the public can ask candidates about their position on environmental issues. Full details here:




Friends of the Earth film screening

Tomorrow, 13th February, Friends of the Earth and The Progressive Film Club are jointly hosting a screening of two interesting documentaries in the New Theatre in Dublin.Solar Mamas is on at 2.30pm, followed by Line in the Sand at 4pm. Check out the details and the trailers below.


Solar Mamas (note: the full film is also available on Youtube:


Line in the Sand (full film below. They also have a good facebook page)



Great Green Wall

The Great Green Wall is an initiative, supported by 11 different African countries, to cultivate a “wall” of vegetation and farmland accross the Sahara. The project began in 2013 in Senegal, where 27,000 hectares of degraded land have been restored and 11 million native trees have been planted. In a great example of governments working together, ten countries in the region have developed national action plans and set up national agencies to support the project. More info about the Great Green Wall here and in the video below:


Weak EU NOx emissions limits

The fallout from the VW emissions scandal continues. As the article below explains, during the week a proposal to limit Nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel cars was vetoed (by a slim margin) by the European Parliament. Some MEPs have suggested that voters were influenced by “pressure from several governments sensitive to car industry demands”, including the UK government. It looks like an unhealthy level of NOx emissions will be the norm until 2017.


On the subject pollution, here’s a recent blog by Jonathon Porritt on air pollution in the EU, where he particularly focuses in on NOx emissions in London. He stresses that 29,000 premature deaths in the UK are caused every year by the buildup of NOx emissions: