LEADERS MUST ACT ON CLIMATE

My thoughts this week are with the Taoiseach and his 2 wing-men, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan.  They must deliver on the thorny issue of emission targets and as we all know the main problem is agriculture.  They are to be congratulated on agreeing a 25% cut for this sector.  Planet Earth is burning and if we are to save civilisation for future generations we must act now.  Many people voted Green at the last election because they considered their participation in government essential because there were bound to be enormous pressures on Fianna Fail and Fine Gael T.D.’s in particular to support the agricultural sector.  Here lies the rub.  Agriculture has been the back-bone of this country and part of the problem has been its very success, the dairy sector being the most obvious.  There is no escaping the simple fact that the continual expansion of the national herd largely led by big dairy farmers has led to increased methane emissions into the atmosphere.  The government are going to have to recognise the stark reality and may have to provide assistance to farmers to cope with the consequences of a reduction in the national herd.  These most challenging times require true leadership and in this respect I think we are lucky to have Micheal Martin at the helm.  He has serious ministerial experience under his belt and at this stage in his career should be able to see that helping deal with this most critical of issues would secure his place in the history books and be a hero to his grandchildren.  Eamon Ryan also has an important part to play and this primarily relates to communicating with the public the importance of the green agenda.  In this country we don’t want to see the growth of an urban versus rural divide.  In this respect Eamon needs to display sympathy with the farmers, some of whom are going to face very difficult decisions.  We are literally all in this together.  As for Leo, he has several in his parliamentary party who are close to rural Ireland.   To them he must show leadership and resolve.  All of this sounds very negative but interestingly over the last few weeks I have had conversations with people outside this country which has made me appreciate how lucky we all are living on this island at the western edge of Europe.  Properly led we have a better chance to weather the storm than most.

Turning next to the awful war in Ukraine.  Is there finally some good news in that troops of Vlad the Bad, who had been fighting a bloody and attritional war may be losing the upper hand ? The key to this change of circumstances is the Ukrainian use of the highly effective Himars rocket system, supplied by the U.S.  Launching a counter offense in Kherson by strafing the Antonwskyy Bridge, a key supply route into the city, it emboldened the Ukrainian Defence Ministry to warn the Russian occupiers in Kherson “ to retreat or be annihilated”.  More graphically Mykhailo Podolyak an adviser to President Zelensky said “ the occupiers should learn how to swim across the Dnieper river”.  Himars is a game changer, it gives the Ukrainians range and accuracy.  Highly mobile it can be moved swiftly.  They have already destroyed 50 Russian ammo dumps.  However, Ukraine only has 4 of these weapons.  They need more and pressure needs to be applied to countries like Germany to live up to its commitments.  By a long mile, it ain’t over yet.