State wide ban on smoky coal
Today, the Department of the Environment will introduce a State wide ban on "smoky" coal. While attempts to curb pollution, particularly in cities, are admirable, the Government are guilty of inconsistency in this matter. For many years, diesel has been encouraged through lower taxation with the result that diesel cars and fuel are cheaper to buy than petrol alternatives. This has resulted in increases of local emissions in built up and city areas. As economist Colm McCarthy explains :
Diesel engines give better mileage than petrol, hence causing lower emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere per kilometre travelled. But they produce higher emissions of local pollutants, including particulates and nitrogen oxide, and these are known to have adverse effects on human health, especially in built-up areas.
Attempts to control this pollution have failed and in the wake of the Volkswagon emission scandal, its safe to say has failed miserably.
But it is beginning to look as if a mistake has been made in Europe. Encouraging diesel to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is a worthy objective. But the control of low-level emissions from diesel through regulation seems to have failed. The European Commission is proposing a tougher testing regime, the standard bureaucratic response: if a policy fails, it needs to be intensified - always reinforce failure [sound familiar - admin note].
So if the Government is concerned about city pollution, perhaps it can take a look at it's own failed policy in relation to motor vehicles (I have previously written about the benefits of using CNG for public transport).
And if it's concerned about coal pollution, then maybe it can take a look at Moneypoint power station and the options open to converting it to less polluting alternatives. People have a choice not to buy smoky coal, but the people of Clare and Kerry do not have a choice (except moving out of the area).
Could it be that it better suits it's owners bottom line to use cheap coal ? Then by the same logic, shouldn't ordinary people have the same right to avail of cheaper methods of heating their home ?