Delighted to see a new government forming at last. I am hoping the words match the deeds in the coming months and years. However there seems to be a lack of joined up thinking about actually getting a Green Plan for Government done. Laudable and way overdue targets will be difficult to achieve without coordinated system change. There is a huge amount of good will but a lack of ability get the good work done. Business that has a positive environmental impact keeps getting blocked by poor regulations and inefficiencies in our public bodies. Look at these examples.
Do you know how many Croke Parks full of clean water we dump into storm drains every time it rains? This with regular drought emergencies and a proposed pipeline from the Shannon? Do you know how much it costs to pump and then treat a litre of water from, say, a well in South Wicklow, to the reserve in Blessington and then to a home in Dublin? I worked as a consultant for a few years with a company that provided rainwater harvesting and stormwater management solutions. Our high quality solutions were cheaper, easier to maintain, made from recycled materials and bio-filtered stormwater before returning it to the water table in pure form. There were loads of other benefits like reduced flooding etc etc. Blocking both solutions were projects specifying only concrete tanks which were blocked within a year, (so environmentally friendly!) and some councils refusing to deduct the charges for water supply when the client were collecting their own rainwater – effectively blocking investment. Other technologies such as porous concrete (that lets rainwater through into the ground) and similar also get no traction in this country. Is it lack of interest or vested interests?
Did you know that right now that the people who plant forestry in this country are sitting idle at this moment because of regulation. The current regulatory and licencing system has presided over the worst year for planting nationally since 1949 with less than 3,000 hectares planted in 2019 – and 2020 may even be worse. Ireland already intends to increase its level of forestry by 8,000 hectares a year. This is vital in terms of achieving our carbon reduction goals of 7% per annum and was designated to offset some of the increase in CO2 from agriculture. The figures are way too low and the current rate of approvals of forestry projects is 50% of the required rate with, for example, 60,000 tonnes of timber stalled in one week alone in April. Farmers who are interested in swapping say, beef production, for more profitable long term carbon reducing forestry cannot get their requirements met!
The Covid19 crisis has forced a lot of people work to from home. The roads are empty, there are no CO2 /NO2 generating traffic jams and our carbon output has dropped. Why not make a visible effort to keep some of that benefit post Covid19. An initiative should be driven by government – rather than by announcements from big tech companies – incentivise people and companies to keep people working from home (if they wish it). Do it now. Provide a minimal level of broadband capability even if it means grant-aiding or subventing the provision of 5G and ramping up its rollout. Give people tax breaks to stop commuting and use broadband instead when possible. Companies are reporting improved performance, people are reporting improved life balance – why are we not supporting and encouraging this CO2 friendly approach when its in the national and international interest???
Much of the problem lies in cross departmental communication and co-operation as well as the culture and sometimes bureaucratic nightmare that exists within parts of our civil service. We have seen real leadership from our government in the last few months, can we please see more of it to address the climate crisis with good green business opportunities. All it needs is some joined up thinking.
Aidan Higgins BEng MBA of ADEO Consulting Ltd is a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist and coach working with Leaders and Teams at all levels of the Private and Public sectors in Ireland. He has over 25 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes.