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Search words: tara

Energy and the Environment

category national | environment | feature author Monday December 03, 2007 02:46author by Blazes Boylan - none Report this post to the editors

featured image
John Gormley and Trevor Sargent posing with Al Gore

Energy & Environment Conference, Dublin 1st December. Senator Al Gore & Bono save the world (again).

A well written and entertaining report of a conference on Energy and the Environment organised by Merrion Capital at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin on the 1st December. The reporter describes the speeches on the environment from luminaries such as David Begg of ICTU talking about the consequences of using land for bio-fuel, Tadhg O'Donoghue of the ESB focusing on nuclear power, and Willie Walsh of Aer Lingus fame speaking about the effects of low-cost aviation before the key-note speech from Al Gore, producer of the popular presentation "An Inconvenient Truth".

BB suspected that indymedia.ie wouldn't send anyone along to a late capitalist event such as this, and used his standard routine. Suit and tie, walk in backwards, some press contact to meet inside, an unpronouncable name (ha-ha), love your Prada jacket darling, and minimal security after that. A few Gardaí were to hand to keep away the uninvited. Dozens of PR girls inside wearing tight two-piece trouser suits to quicken the blood (steady on now, Blazes). Two brave souls in anoraks handed out Shell-to-Sea leaflets outside and at the front a Save tara banner was guarded by at least three enthusiasts.

But saving the Irish economy in a warming world was the aim of the conference. A youthful John Conroy of Merrion Capital was host for the day to several hundred in a packed room. John Gormley showed his enthusiasm for renewables in a well-crafted speech. The European Investment Bank was doubling its investment in this area. David Begg followed with the warning that Europe would use 72% of its arable land to grow 10% of its oil as biofuel. This would cause food price inflation (we're there already?), with some estimates that 2 billion would then starve in the third world. Begg acknowledged that such an outcome was "fairly serious stuff". No gasps or laments for the 2 billion amongst his audience. How were we to deal with an expected population here of 5.5 million by 2025 and also reduce emission by 3% p.a.?

Next the ESB had its say with chairman Tadhg O'Donoghue. The focus was on the nuclear option; the smallest designed plant would generate 800MW (usually 1,500MW), while the ESB's largest plant generates 400MW. With a load of 1,500MW to 5,000MW daily, 800MW was too big to be feasible. The interconnector with Northern Ireland and Scotland was in place, and another to Wales would be finished in 2012. These sent us power that was nuclear-generated, so in effect we have nuclear power without the expense of building our own plant. Renewables were a fact but existing capacity had to be ready to take up any drop in the wind, which cost money. Peat-fuel plants were the 'dirtiest' of all options. Burning elephant grass as a carbon-neutral crop to supply 10% of our electricity would need 500,000 hectares, more than all our arable land.

Then Antony Froggatt demolished the nuclear option, reminding us that known reserves of uranium would only last 70 years. Ireland's problem would best be solved by wind and tidal power, the latter giving us all our electricity in theory. Other renewables would also reduce our CO2 by 33% (electricity) and 10% (transport). At last the number crunchers had a direction to follow. Finally Willie Walsh presented a tight speech on low-cost aviation and emissions; that would of course have an effect on Irish second homes and second mortgages in places like Spain. The speeches had given us a load of data, well presented and with a refreshing absence of any Bertie-style "It'll be all right on the night, youse are paying for it anyway whedder it works or not" plamas.

After our coffee break upstairs, applause went up for Bono and then Al Gore. Al started with his famous line: "I used to be the next president of the USA", and then acknowledged the presence of John Sweeney as one of the 2,500 scientists in the IPCC who had produced four reports since 1988 on global warming. Daily, 70m tons of CO2 pours into the atmosphere and another 25m tons into the sea. In 2008 China's output of CO2 would overtake the USA for the first time. Australia had just finished "the first climate change election". Tax policy would have to shift from taxing employment to taxing pollution; the audience liked the sound of that. But this was the only meat of his argument.

The rest showed his enthusiasm with some down-home wisdom. The worry was that people would pass straight from denial to despair when they realized the problems involved. "Denial ain't a river in Africa, despair ain't the tyre in your trunk". Amen to that, good for the youth maybe, but not a hit with Dublin's number-crunchers. The students of 2030 would look back on us and wonder, either "what were they thinking?" or "how did they solve it?" A final rallying call that "political will is also a renewable resource" led on to the Q and A session.

Here the answers were slick but sometimes a little awkward, as comparing the challenge to defeating the Axis powers in 1941-45 led to comments about Churchill's bravery and FDR's determination. Gore acknowledged that an Irish audience might find this hard to swallow. No-one batted an eyelid. Dev and neutrality were the long-distant embarrassingly impoverished past and we wanted to hear about the future. Ultimately it was a moral challenge: "What a privilege it is to have an opportunity to use our best efforts". "This will be larger than IT, biotech, larger even than the industrial revolution". Standing ovation.

So Merrion's clients can reflect that some elephant grass will help, some biofuel can be grown, but not enough. Nuclear and even wind power are not the answer. A tidal power system alone will do it, along with solar panels as they become cheaper and a mix of the other elements. If we realize all the investment needed, the rest of the world will probably still mess things up and endure some "fairly serious stuff". Outside a small fleet of high-end mercedes and beamers waited to drive the VIPs away.

author by Ex-Green votepublication date Sun Dec 02, 2007 21:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Members of the Green Party grabbed photo opportunities with Gore, while outside the building activists who seemed to be trying to quietly leaflet the crowd going in were being hassled by the security and the gardaí. I wonder if Eamon Ryan mentioned the great big Shell refinery he's helping to build in a conservation area, or John Gormley brought up the giant motorway he's pushing through a heritage site.

Maybe Trevor did the talking.

Didn't the Green candidate stop Gore winning in Florida back in the 2000 election?



author by Willpublication date Sun Dec 02, 2007 23:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Imagine removing the equivalent of 6,000,000 cars from the polluting output of Ireland. Well that's what is produced by Irish cows in the form of methane gas. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.
So, it seems to me, that avoiding that steak 'n chips or cancelling a litre of milk will do more for the environment than leaving the gas-guzzler at home.
We don't hear this because Ireland, and a lot of other economies, are dependant on agriculture, or more precisely, cows.
But people still need food and whatever is not produced one way will be produced another, so farmers won't lose out.

author by Blazes Bpublication date Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry folks, a keyboard malfunction, looking at it again it was Eamo (on-yer-bike) Ryan, not Gormley, who spoke.

Someone might do a piece on Landsbanki (part-owner of Merrion), funded in recent years by Russians who did so well in the Yeltsin years.

Related Link: http://www.greenparty.ie/en/people/eamon_ryan
author by TaraWatchpublication date Mon Dec 03, 2007 19:25author email info at tarawatch dot orgauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Shots with Bono deemed ‘too showbizzy’ for Gore
Sunday Independent
2 December 2007

by Liam Collins

HE’s been photographed with everyone from the Pope to George Bush, but when Bono met Al Gore in Dublin yesterday the great climate change campaigner said “no photographs” - at least not for publication.

Although the pair were pictured together in private in the Royal College of Surgeons, before a major conference on business and the evnironment, Mr Gore’s ‘people’ ordered that no photographs of them should be released of them together.

“It’s too showbizzy,” Mr Gore’s ‘people’ are reported to have told organisers. Instead they wanted ‘corporate’ images released which would reflect the unsuccessful presidential candidate’s new position as climate change guru.

What they seemed to forget was the inconvenient truth that the former US vice-president - who revived his career by hitching his star to climate change - was photographed in London with rock star Bon Jovi only last week.

As for Bono - he’s probably the most photographed man on the planet with his combination of rock stardom and save the world ideology

Bono had jetted into Dublin from the south of France, where U2 are “beginning the process” of recording a new album. But after the Dublin event ‘Al’s people’ were not for turning. They just didn’t think a photograph of AL and Bono was “appropriate” given the seriousness of the Dublin conference.

Instead, they put out a press release shot of Mr Gore with the chairman of Merrion Cipatal John Conroy, who organised the conference, which they believed suited the ‘corporate’ image of the Dublin event - cutting the U2 frontman from the lineup.

Bono had earlier joined Mr Gore and the Minister for Energy, Eamon Ryan, for a 45-minute ‘briefing; on the world environment before the conference began.

Later delegates, mostly drawn from the Dublin financial world, were told by Mr Gore that Ireland’s unprecedented economic success over the last ten years brought with it certain responsibilities.

“Ireland, with its successful business model and unique political positioning had a key role to play among developed nations in driving the environmental agenda,” said Mr Gore - in his keynote address. The conference was entitled “Thinking Green: Economic Strategy for the 21st Century.”

Gore, now a global environmental campaigner, said he was greatly encouraged by the importance of being attached to environmental issues by leading businessmen. Another speaker at the conference, Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways, said climate change was “the most serious long term challenge the airline industry had ever faced.”

He continued: “It is unfair that airlines have been portrayed regularly as environmental pariahs and that it is suggested that choosing to fly is not only bad for the planet, but selfish and sinful as well.”

Government Ministers Eamon Ryan, Noel Dempsey and the former Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, who authorised the controvertial M3 motorway at Tara route, were heckled by protesters as they arrived at the conference in Kildate Street.

According to protesters, Bono agreed with them that the new motorway near the historic Hill of Tara was a “bad idea”.

‘Right on daddy…Bono’s girls are chip off the old block…but taller’
by Joanne Hegarty, Chief Showbusiness Writer
The Irish Mail on Sunday 2/12/07

When your rock-star dad is one of the most famous people on the planet, he must be one tough act to follow. But his two daughters seemed to be taking it all in their stride yesterday when they turned up with him for an international conference in Dublin on global climate change.

Dressed casually in dark skinny jeans and woolly scarves, Jordan(18) and Memphis Eve(15) trailed behind their campaigning father as he arrived on foot at the Royal College of Surgeons just after 11am. Giggling and texting on their mobile phones, Bono’s rock-chick looking daughters almost went unnoticed by the large crowd of campaigners and press that gathered.

Rarely pictured at a public event, the girls have inherited their mother’s good looks and their father’s grungy dress code. Unlike their diminutive dad, however, the girls don’t seem to have any height hang-ups and decided to keep their feet firmly on the ground in flat shoes. Bono apparently toured Harvard University this summer in the hopes that his eldest, Jordan, who shares his May 10 birthday, would become a student there one day.

Bono has never made a secret of his love for the American lifestyle and owns a €4m Manhattan apartment which, presumably, Jordan will use as digs. That’s if she makes the grade of course.Memphis Eve attends a private southside secondary school. Bono has always prided himself on being a good father and says he has a close relationship with his daughters and tries to drive them to school as often as he can. When he is not bending the ear of world leaders that is.

Jordan and Memphis Eve joined protesters opposed to the contentious M3 motorway being routed near the Hill of Tara and listened as their dad and former US president Al Gore were called on to back the demonstrations.

TaraWatch handed a letter to Al Gore before he spoke at talks in central Dublin on the impact of global climate change. Laura Grealish of TaraWatch said, ‘We hope Mr Gore gets a chance to see what is really going on here in Ireland’.

Government Ministers Eamon Ryan, Noel Dempsey and former environment minister Dick Roche, who rubber-stamped the controversial route, were heckled as they arrived at the talks.

Irish Times: Gore, Bono called to support Tara

RTE News: Gore challenges Ireland during Dublin speech

Press Association: Campaigners seek star backing



Related Link: http://www.tarawatch.org
author by Joepublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why do I laugh when I see these pictures? I remember the slogan, "Think Globally, Act Locally" but this is surely a case of , "Think Big, Act Small".

author by Rational Ecologistpublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 13:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Not worth adding anymore ' hot air ' to these celebrity love-ins. U2 should be lambasted for planning a 5-star hotel in Dublin, which involves the demolition of a listed building. Also, did anyone see his recent performance in UCC when asked about U2's avoiding tax here? He's a talented, if not very overrated, pop-rock artist but he is a brown-noser to the US administration.
People in Dublin should boycott U2 and their new hotel.
There has to be a real grassroots solution. Monbiot is ok, though.

author by indygreenplotpublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 18:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Em, I'm really confused. The Greens get to do an Irish Times like feature on Indymedia, without a hint of objectivity, and then the protestors get criticised... Indymedia...what a joke...

author by C Murraypublication date Tue Dec 04, 2007 19:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There was a protest outside of the meeting, wherin Laura Grealish handed a letter of Protest to Mr
Gore and the past Ministers for Environment were heckled. I wrote a little comment which has
been deleted;

Mr Gormley is currently Minister for Environment and Bono is involved in high rise
in the Docklands- both of those issues have severe community repurcussions with
600,000 tons of waste being transported to Pollbeg P/A in Minister Gormley's backyard.
(as it were..)

Two planning projects by U2 led consortiums are effecting Dublin- one being a high rise
of glass and steel in the docklands- there was an art studio and gallery in Green Street
East (which is either gone or looking for new premises) and U2 are building a new
hotel that no-one wants 'cept them.

These are eco and community issues- I really don't want to read about the convention
or Bon's f***ing jet but hear why people in those areas have lost within the
consultative processes their right to object to agressive ego-driven ,or development driven
pet projects- but my remarks keep getting removed. its openwire!

[not to mention the M3- the building of a huge urban sprawl toll road out of the city
which will create school and hospital havoc in many towns and 'urban regeneration'
irish style- does not allow of properly planned community areas but income generated
rental schemes etc.].

why do town planners plan without people/parks/and amenities in mind-simple question?

author by greeneyedmonster - Greens to Seapublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 00:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Chris. Aren't you a former aide to Gormley in the Green Party? The photos with Gormley and Gore were taken by the PR company photographers, and would only be available to a select few, including the Minister and the other Greens. I bwonder if Liam Reid, the environment writer he bought from the Irish Times with our money, wrote the article. Do you see any hope in it for stopping climate change? Not a bit I'd say. They're just propping up FF. Bono's not perfect, but it is strange that you would complain that he is opposed to the M3

author by chrispublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 09:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I left the Greens after the estimates- when Cuffe and Ryan (followed by Meade) voted for the bin charges. Gormley did nothing
about the M3-'My hands are tied', I was never an 'aide', I campaigned against Nice II and Mc Dowell cos in my political
innocence I actually believed that it was important that parties opposed to rightist policy be heard. my resignation and opposition
to the estimates vote are recorded. I was the only person in the DSE branch to ask that it be recorded- and it sort of went
pear-shaped after that. I was never paid thus wd not consider myself an 'aide'-more an irritating feminist type who fecked
off the Party cos of my insistence with other women that the Greens platform women-that never happened either. as to my
conservation backround, I am a qualified architectural stonecutter (city and guilds) and an ex employee of Duchas. Thus
conservation and ethos (i.e approach to conservation) is highly important. This includes approach to conservation
and structure retention-as well as issues arround sustainability. J gormley has heard from me twice since becoming a
Minister- both times were appeals to meet with the campaigners and discuss the issue of violence and also to ask why
GP does not support the re-instigation of a statutory agency to implement the NMA. (Duchas was abolished in 2003)

re- the estimates: I found myself out of the party and on the street (with a pram) at the the protests and have never really
regretted leaving, I detest lack of bravery and will campaign with anyone come council elections on Poolbeg and
bin charges-cos DSE Green turned on policy and the two candidates who supported the estimates are now TD/Minister/
PA to Gormley.(!)

Simple approaches to issues of sustainability include:
1. Instigating protections on natural and built heritage in the form of a statutory agency.
Ireland is in breach of Multiple EU habitat directives and has been since the time of Minister De Valera.
2. Bringing in the Aarhus Convention in toto and not as part of the SIB planning bill.
3. An equitable planning system that is not weighted to developer.

Interesting bit of homework on my politcal past, I would ask why not one single Party has advanced
simple planning and protection guidelines as part of their policy platforms and instead bemoan issues
of strategic importance under the whole Climate Change bandwagon-it creates abstraction whilst refusing
to deal directly with rights.

author by SAGEpublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I notice tthat Minister Gormley is wearing mustard yellow suit in the photo wirh Al Gore and am wondering if this phsycomatic statement of his cowardice re "My hands are tied" ?

author by C Murraypublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The issue of conservation is completely ignored, since the Glen Of The Downs which in many ways
provided the 'footprint' for how FF deal with sustainability:

1.Media isolation of campaigners.
2. Aggressive planning laws weighted to the developer under the PPP.
3.Use of injunction and intimidation against campaigns.
4. Prison sentences.
5. Transferring land ownership from state bodies into the hands of the county councils.
6. A consultative process which has no community impetus or base.

The state was fined for breach of Habitat directive under EU law in September 2001.
The Minister was Sile de Valera. The Minister for state at the OPW at the time of the
privatisation for profit excerise was Noel Dempsey TD.

In 2003 Duchas was abolished with its duties of protection divided between DOE and
the Commissioners of Public Works (at St Stephens Green).
In 2004 the NMA was revised to allow for the destruction of Heritage within 28 sitting days of the
In 2006 Minister Roche introduced the SIB which transposes elements of Aarhus into
Irish law and re-structures both the court system and an Bord Pleanala.

Only established heritage groups will have access to the courts in relation to questioning
Ministerial decisions-the bill is available through Government Publications on Molesworth
Street. Those groups must have environmental protection in their constitutions
and be incepted up to one year before taking an eco case.

In the period 2000-2006 there has been no separate commitment to heritage protection
by the current or past government. No opposition party has forwarded legislation to
protect Ireland's Natural or built heritage. All of this is public domain and yet the Greens
are embedded in the government and have not forwarded a sensible approach to
either Aarhus or a national policy of Heritage Retention. As to the 'tied hands': part
of the Salafia case suggested the the Minister at Environment had 'unreviewable
discretionary powers' and yet 24 hours before leaving office the permissions were
signed for the destruction of Lismullin, by Roche: Minister Gormley has not approached the issue
from the standpoint of protections and in my opinion has retained the legislation leading to
the criminalisation of campaigners who have consistently sought review of that

its quite simple:- Review of Heritage policy means a National approach to
protection under EU Law. There is no Irish law to protect Natural and Built Heritage.
All laws governing Protection have been consistently eroded since 2000 under the
FF/PD administration.

author by Blazes Boylanpublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You are all right to criticize the Bono-Gore celeb aspect reported in the press. It wasn't needed, the first group of speakers said what had to be said. They are middle-rank decision-makers here, and Gore said nothing about Ireland or the Irish CO2 situation, and how to solve it without going back to the stone age.

Gore did say that many communities in the USA have individually adopted the Kyoto standards, if the feds (Bush) have not, and that much of the pushing was being done by business and not just activists.

Gormley & Ryan have only just got their feet under the table and will be judged by the electorate and FF if they "go too far". How much did all those useless new junior ministers cost - that was FF compo for creating the coalition and the appointment of the Green Party ministers.

In turn we are still saddled with FF/FG who mostly live in the past. Bertie was asked to define "sustainable development" a few years ago and said that it was creating conditions where development could be sustained for as long as possible.....

author by soundbytepublication date Wed Dec 05, 2007 18:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sound Bushite, No?

FG/Lab , if they get into power would want to consider reform and not flapping. They
flap on Lisbon and Globalisation- enough said. Smaller parties have a huge opportunity
to powerbroke on eco and they have to learn to use it= connection with issues and dump
the policy platforms+ pre-elections pacts. Very few have discussed heritage in realistic terms
and yet reacting to and off-setting a globalised econmy is crucial to many NGO's and civil society
groups, people have to ask what globalisation means in terms of food production/sustainability.
not how fucking rich they can get by jumping on bandwagons and getting their photo taken
with some guy from the states...

author by greeneyedmonster - Greens to Seapublication date Fri Dec 07, 2007 11:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Budget with a Green tinge

Irish Times - Editorial
7 Dec 2007

Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley has put the best complexion on his party's contribution to the Budget and spoken of "a very good start" in curbing carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the reality does not bear out that assertion. The Coalition Government, in its very first year, will fail conspicuously to meet its target of cutting carbon emissions by three per cent. There is, as yet, no sign of a carbon tax.

The programme for government was presented to party members some months ago as "a work in progress" and the best that could be achieved at the time. And while there are positive developments in this Budget in terms of additional resources for environmental protection bodies, new technologies and energy-saving projects under the aegis of Green Ministers, the overall thrust is disappointing in view of the urgency of the climate change agenda.

A vehicle registration tax based on carbon emissions only, rather than the dual system proposed by Dick Roche 12 months ago, is hardly revolutionary. Especially when the new system will be delayed by an additional six months. A decision to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2009 is merely responsible housekeeping. Difficult and unpopular decisions that would have affected industry and the broader community are being deferred while investment in public transport remains inadequate.

In spite of such limitations, there are thin political pickings for the Opposition in this Budget. The great majority of taxpayers and social welfare recipients will be slightly better off. And economic growth is predicted to continue at an above-EU average level next year. That forecast could be overturned by recession in the US, rising oil prices and a strengthening exchange rate, developments over which Minister for Finance Brian Cowen has no control. With that in mind, the Minister took action to soothe the domestic financial and property markets by reforming stamp duty. It was a measure that came too late for the Progressive Democrats and for Michael McDowell. And its relatively modest nature, compared to cuts advocated by Fine Gael during the general election campaign, has insulated him from accusations of extravagance. Whether the measure will serve to underpin the housing market or merely provide a "dead cat bounce" remains unclear.

On the basis of this Budget, there is no doubt about who is running the show. As on three previous occasions, Mr Cowen has provided generously for welfare recipients. In addition, he prioritised capital spending in the National Development Plan; provided extra funding for social and affordable housing and continued to invest in health and education. But there was little imagination or innovation on display. In the end, it amounted to little more than a holding exercise. The most formidable challenge now facing the Government involves containing its spending increase to 8.2 per cent while dealing with wage demands and the benchmarking process. It was manifestly a Fianna Fáil Budget with a Green tinge.

author by Petepublication date Fri Dec 07, 2007 12:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Are we sure about CFLs?
I suspect that while they may conserve energy, they will cost the consumer a lot more in the long term.
In other words the Green initiative will become just another stealth tax - saving the state money while the consumer pays for it.



author by Ian Cognitopublication date Fri Dec 21, 2007 14:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A good piece by George Monbiot on Al Gore:

Hurray! We’re Going Backwards!
Bush trashed the climate talks. But look what Gore did.


author by climate What?publication date Fri Dec 21, 2007 23:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Quite correct Pete. A stealth Tax , yes thats what the Greens are about use Global warming , climate chnge, carbon footprints . In Bali, they went (how many carbon footprints were used?!!!)

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