Seanad debates

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

10:30 am

Photo of Marie Louise O'DonnellMarie Louise O'Donnell (Independent)

I was delighted to see this morning that the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Bruton, is beginning to do a lot of work on climate change, with the plastic bag levies, a levy on waste recovery and even a levy on disposable coffee cups. I have an issue with people walking and eating at the same time. It is the worst of America coming to Ireland.

There is a certain fantasy about many of the measures he has been announcing. One of the greatest fantasies was in an announcement he made on Friday, 25 October, in a climate action youth town hall meeting in Mount Temple comprehensive school in Clontarf. He stated the climate action plan sets out an ambitious plan for 2030. We will have five times as much renewable energy on our grid; ten times as much retrofitting of homes and buildings; 25 times penetration of electric vehicles among our cars; zero non-recyclable plastics compared to 60% today; 500,000 extra daily public active commuter journeys and, here it is, we will have planted 250 million trees. In ten years, we will have planted 250 million trees. That means we will plant 25 million trees a year, which means we will plant 2,830,000 trees a month. That means that we will plant 69,000 trees a day. I do not know who wrote this - I think it is the fairy tales of Ireland – but we have to be very careful of these kinds of announcements that are glossed over and given to Ministers to say, and they say them with the greatest faith in the world. This is because nobody has even asked, if we are going to plant 69,000 trees a day, where they will be planted. Are we going to recreate Sweden or parts of Canada? What will be the size of these trees? The expanse between one tree and another is quite large if it is at arm's length or will there be poles? It is ridiculous. While I agree with much of what the Minister said, he cannot be writing the fairly tales of Ireland or not checking what is being written in announcements I have checked it three times. It started off as 400 million and something and it is down to 250 million but with 250 million trees, we will be walking on the top of trees from here to Galway. A squirrel will not have to take the train. It can walk on the top of the trees with no problem or it could swing, like orangutans. I do not know where these spaces are.

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