State faces major obstacles to weather the climate storm

Moneypoint Power Station...closure recommended.
Moneypoint Power Station...closure recommended.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Last weekend I went for a run along the prom and saw the remnants of the spectacular storm in Galway Bay days earlier – a big mound of rocks and stones thrown up by the waves, and there was seaweed everywhere. The city had endured flooding where it had never been seen before; all too familiar to Flood Street, Spanish Parade and Quay Street but to see Dominick Street being turned into a lake was a first for me.

The storm also threw up a question that has become persistent and predictable in recent year – was this just another of those periodic weather events we’ve seen throughout history or was this the impact of global warming on our own doorstep?

A little bit like single opinion polls predicting an election result, individual weather events – no matter how extreme – don’t really tell us that much.

What matters are the longer-term patterns, and all of those are pointing to an earth that is warming and yet is still hooked on fossil fuels like oil and gas despite the clamour of warnings.

If you look at the long-term predictive modelling and reports from Government departments and agencies, you will see scenarios later this century that will leave us with warmer – but unpredictable – summers and frequent violent storms in winter, leading to serious flooding and coastal erosion. That will mean the construction of ever-larger sea defences to stop the kind of breaches we saw last week.

International politics decided that greenhouse emissions fall into two categories. The first is traded emissions. They include power stations and heavy industry, including cement manufacture (big in Ireland).

If a country is emitting too much and exceeds its permitted level, it can buy permits off a country that has not used its quota. That essentially puts a price on carbon and rewards countries that stay within their limits.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.