Gentle Decline 2/4: Progress & Promises
In which the author gives some credit where it's due
Hello. I’ve done a great deal of complaining about the Green Party here in Ireland since last years’s election, but some stuff has hit the news recently for which I should give them some credit as well. So this short-but-link-heavy issue goes through a few recent bits of good news.
[Gentle Decline is an occasional newsletter about climate crisis, and - more to the point - how to cope with it. Drew, who needs to eat as well as rant, has a Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/drewshiel - specially requested by readers of this newsletter and Commonplace. You can see details that didn't make it into the newsletters, for a start, and get previews of upcoming new stuff. Sign up today! Alternately, go for the coin-in-the-busker’s-hat at Ko-fi.]
First up is a preview of something that’s supposed to be in the upcoming Climate Action Bill: banning oil and gas exploration in Ireland and in Irish waters. This has been cleared through the cabinet already, which is genuinely impressive for a governing body composed of profit-oriented conservatives with a scattering of Green Party people. People Before Profit found something to complain about in it, in that existing licences run, in some cases, out to 2035, but even my level of cynicism does see that as the bottom of the barrel. I hope that future efforts do curb existing licences, but I’ll absolutely take the ban on new ones. As far as I can make out, this upcoming Climate Action Bill is a revised version of last year’s, with fair bit added to it - which I feel it really needed.
Next, a report on the new REPS scheme, which replaces the GLAS one I was giving out about before.
“Under this approach, farmers will be scored and paid based on the environmental good delivered on land included in the scheme, not just a payment for carrying out actions off a set menu of options.
Payments will be linked to an overall score - the higher it is, the higher the payment. This will be in contrast to GLAS, where farmers received the same payment irrespective of what the measure achieved.”
Overall, this looks like an enlightened and far more effective plan than GLAS was, and I’ll be interested to see how it rolls out.
There’s also a good clear statement from Pippa Hackett, the Green Party Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, who says “some lands are simply meant to be wet”. Given that a lot of what she’s saying there lines up with my own thinking - particularly the bit where flooding is mostly passed on to others downstream - I’m pleased to see this being stated at this level. There’s also some grumbling from a Roscommon TD in there, who says “Let no one be fooled, if this continues they will aim to rewild land that farmers have reclaimed over the years”, which… yes, that will be a thing, dude. Get with the times.
In other good news - and I was frankly a bit boggled by this - it appears that parts of the US, under Trump, were actually forging ahead with the “move inland” part of my program for the future with a strategy called “managed retreat”. This is a very simple and straight-forward approach: the government, at either the state or federal level (via FEMA) buys flood-threatened houses from their owners, demolishes them, and leaves the land empty. The owners then have money to clear mortgages, or even buy a new place, further inland, with cash. In California, the town of Marino is doing similar things at a local level.
Managed retreat is being considered in some places in Ireland, but there are “no policy or financial instruments available for the local authority to implement” such a strategy. As of September of last year, there’s a National Coastal Change Management Strategy Steering Group, which has a fairly sane looking membership and aims. They should be reporting back sometime in March with a first set of advice.
Relevant to that: the East Coast of Ireland doesn’t get nearly as much flooding as the West and South-west (which is good in the short term because that coast is far softer and more vulnerable to erosion). But when it does, chunks of important infrastructure are sitting right there:
(That’s also the main train line from Dublin down the East coast, and to the ferry port in Rosslare.)
Dublin City Council have published the results of a survey on understanding of biodiversity. I haven’t read it in detail yet (and might not for a while, the details of biodiversity being somewhat lower on my research lists this year), but it looks like there’s some good and useful stuff in there.
For your regular dose of Drew-mutters-darkly-about-dairy-farmers, here’s an extensive article on RTÉ about the Climate Change Roadmap for the Agricultural Sector. And some other farmers (agricultural contractors, technically) want an extension to the hedge-cutting dates (because it was wet), in an era when birds are nesting earlier rather than later. As I noted on Twitter:
The rules on hedge-cutting dates are routinely ignored, mind, and I’ve never heard of a penalty being applied. I know there were hedges on a back lane here in Maynooth cut in April last year. There were a total of five prosecutions in 2018, which by my own back-of-the-envelope figures is a lot less than 1% of offences. The agricultural sector, represented here by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, are also whining bitterly about Bord na Móna’s decision to stop turf-cutting, although it doesn’t seem to have occurred to them to stop using peat.
The winter, fuelled by various climate effects, is hitting hard across the northern hemisphere, and Moscow was expecting record snowfalls in mid-February. I have to say that what Moscow considers a ‘snowpocalypse’ must be pretty notable.
This issue brought to you by some some sun before the next deluge, three D&D days in a row, and some medieval-style Lenten fasting, as an experiment. I've given up on trying to say what the next issue will be in advance, but I'm taking requests and questions. If you hit reply, you can send stuff straight to me!
Gentle Decline is on Twitter as @gentledecline, which I’m using more these days.
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