Trinity’s Overuse of Paper

by Ruaidhrí Saulnier

When I was preparing to sit for my leaving cert before it got cancelled, my chemistry teacher often told me, “We’re not here to save the planet.” While this remark sounds odd, it relates to the fact that I would try and squeeze in as much information as possible onto one sheet of paper, answering as many questions as possible. The result was an illegible mess made worse by poor handwriting. What I was encouraged to do, and I still do now, is one question per page, more if needed. While I cannot remember much from leaving cert chemistry, I do remember that statement, and often repeat it when doing things which seem to be wasteful, as a bid to attempt to save my soul from going to environmental hell. 

The good news is that Ireland is below the European average for paper consumption per capita, with slightly more than half our closest neighbours, the UK. However, there is still room to improve here. Is there a way to move past paper? There are paper alternatives on the market, which reduce paper usage, as well as increase organisation and the notes taken sync straight to the cloud. Tablets and laptops, among others, are all frequent sights in the lecture halls I frequent. While they may be significantly more expensive than a refill pad and pen, this may be a cost that must be considered, especially if you are unfamiliar with how they source their materials to make the devices. You may still have some papers, but most of those papers were created on a computer, and a soft copy can be requested if it is not already available on blackboard.

One tree goes far in the paper business, giving 16.67 reams or 8,333 sheets of paper. What are the other costs associated with making paper? To make one kilogram of paper, 324 litres of water is needed. One ream of 500 sheets weighs around two and a half kilograms. To turn one tree into paper requires 12,152 litres of water.

This seems high, some paper production plants recycle their water over and over, and in the more efficient water plants of Europe where no water isn’t recycled, it only requires approximately ten to twenty-five litres to make one kilogram. In addition to this, virgin paper generates 1.2 kg of CO2 for every kilogram of paper produced.

“4.1 million hectares of forest being cut down annually, an area the size of the Netherlands, just for paper.”

Recycled paper, such as the paper this is printed on, if you are reading the printed version requires 44% less energy and creates 50% less wastewater to manufacture. It also generates 42% fewer CO2 emissions. One ton of recycled paper conserves more than just one natural resource. As a matter of fact, it will save 26500 litres of water, 1750 litres of oil, and 17 trees in the process.

With the figures above and a few assumptions, we can calculate the amount of paper used in Trinity, with the figures a bit rounded down. We have previously stated that one tree produced 8,333 sheets of paper, and there are approximately 13,360 undergraduate students in this college. An exam booklet has eight sheets of paper. We will assume a third of these need additional paper and that ten exams are sat each year. In addition to the answer booklet, exam papers must also be printed whose length is three pages long.

This means that 1,421,504 sheets of paper are needed for booklets, and 400,800 sheets of paper are needed for exam papers, for a total of 1,822,304 sheets. At 8,333 sheets per tree, this means that 219 trees must be cut down for the two exam sessions. And this number is just exams, meaning the actual amount of trees needed is likely much higher. Admin work, printing, society posters, labs, tutorials that must be handed in in person, and more all need many sheets of paper, and that 219 figure could very easily double. The advent of software like chatGPT has shown that there is a need for examinations which do not allow for this cheating to occur, but a balance must be struck between entirely online, near paper-free exams and in-person paper-heavy exams, but we are still far away from a perfect solution.

14% of all deforestation is done to satisfy humanity’s paper needs. While this figure includes other items made of paper pulp, such as paper cups, this is still very high. This figure corresponds to 4.1 million hectares of forest being cut down annually, an area the size of the Netherlands, just for paper. The trees cut down are also fast-growing monocultures, which tend to replace older forests in the name of profits. When regrowing forests, biodiversity must be at the forefront of the regrowing. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and as such, profits tend to be prioritised instead. Eucalyptus trees are some of the trees that are used for this purpose. They are fast-growing and good for making wood pulp, but they also make it hard for other types of trees to grow near them and are not favoured by insects. In addition, their natural oils make them highly flammable. In some of the areas in which they are grown, particularly the hotter ones, this often causes forest fires which can turn into deadly affairs.

If Trinity is serious about its carbon neutrality, its paper use should be examined and improved.

Human Behaviour to the Climate Crisis

by Sophie Finegan

How many of you honestly ignore something in the hope that it goes away? In need of some divine inspiration? Perhaps it is that assignment due at the end of term you’ve been putting off- the mere thought of which resembles what you can only imagine are the burning fires of hell in the afterlife. What about that ghastly, yet undeniably impressive, stack of mugs accumulating in the corner of your room for the last while – how long has it truly been there? The point I seek to illustrate is that we humans sometimes think if we magically ignore and procrastinate reality that it will suddenly evaporate into thin air. 

“There is no denying that climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. “

These lies that we tell ourselves essentially postpone our worries to a later stage so that we can continue to go about our lives in a relatively care-free state. Whilst this is ideal in the here and now – eventually reality does set in! At some point, we are forced to admit defeat to these false truths and return the mugs to their rightful place! I suppose you are probably questioning the reason behind this unsolicited attack on human nature and what in the world this has got to do with the environment but have no fear I am getting to the point. This same behaviour can be observed in the world’s response to climate change.

There is no denying that climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. Evidence of such can clearly be observed anywhere and everywhere around the world from the forest fires in Australia to rising sea levels and the melting of the ice caps and glaciers in Antarctica.

Furthermore, rising levels of greenhouse gases and pollution has led to a vast reduction in biodiversity across the globe, the extinction of many plants and animals in addition to the increased spread of infectious diseases. What is the cause behind such large-scale catastrophe you might ask? While there is no one isolated causal factor, a consensus has emerged among the science community claiming that climate change is largely anthropogenic (a consequence of wastefully inefficient and unsustainable human activity). 

Whilst international commitments such as the Kyoto Protocol, ratified in 1997, and the 2016 Paris Agreement have promised to implement greener policies to minimise the rise of global temperatures, there is still much to be done in the domain of encouraging more sustainable living at a local level. Arguably, the greatest difficulty facing the fight against climate change is humans themselves. Despite the widespread dissemination of information on the causes and effects of climate change and associated campaigns, there are still people who believe that climate change is a myth (Whitmarsh, 2011).

“approximately 16% of American citizens reject climate change, 25% believe that while it is in fact occurring, it is not as a result of human activities”

According to a recent study conducted by TheEconomistYouGov, approximately 16% of American citizens reject climate change, 25% believe that while it is in fact occurring, it is not as a result of human activities, and 14% say they are unsure what to believe (Pierre, 2022). Climate change denialism or rejection hinders the ability of governments to pass environmental legislation which is desperately needed to reduce the negative effects of climate change and promote more sustainable living at the local level.

Scholars have sought to explain why, despite the scientifically proven research and the examples observed around the world, individuals continue not to take climate change seriously. The findings are nothing short of fascinating. According to a wealth of literature, many individuals deny the severity of climate change simply because the mere thought of it generates feelings of fear, worry, and uncertainty (Dunlap, 2013). This relates to the psychological term cognitive dissonance which claims that humans can trick themselves into denying a reality in order to avoid the feelings attached to accepting its existence.  In all honesty, this makes sense.

The idea that our planet might be inhabitable in the future is scary, but denial and deflection are likely not the best approach to the situation. Traditionally, the consensus in this field of study concludes that climate change denialism is strongly associated with individuals who have low levels of education and who support conservative political ideologies (Dunlap, 2013) (Weber, 2015). Many sceptics believe opposing political parties exaggerate the negative effects of climate change to gain voters or further wealth or simply are resistant to change. I suppose the next question to be answered is why people would encourage such scepticism around such a serious global issue? It would seem that some individuals seek to maintain the status quo in relation to global issues and disassociate from it.

“humans are more likely to deny the existence and or extremity of climate change simply because the effects are not directly observed in their physical surroundings.”

This relates back to human nature and our unusual behavioural tendencies. Studies conducted across the U.K., the U.S., and Sweden in particular have found that humans are more likely to deny the existence and or extremity of climate change simply because the effects are not directly observed in their physical surroundings. For many, this global issue is as abstract as the artistic work of renowned painter Vasily Kandinsky.

Take for example a study conducted by Li et al., (2011) in both the U.S. and Australia which sought to provide empirical evidence to support this theory. Both samples were asked to express their viewpoints on certain days whereby the temperatures were different to the average weather conditions experienced in that area. The study concluded that on the days whereby the temperature was higher, more people reported significantly stronger feelings in support of climate change. This reinforces the idea that humans are prone to prioritising the present in the formulation of opinions. 

So what can we take from these captivating studies? Firstly, human behaviour is incredibly complex. Of course, the point is not to force individuals into changing their opinion. However, if it is denialism that is impeding an individual’s beliefs in relation to climate action there are some things that can be done, for example, further promoting policies designed at simple ways to promote preserving the future and sustainable living.

“individuals become more invested in the future when it benefits them”

However, it is not all doom and gloom – some studies have suggested that the answer to this is to simply make people more interested in the future. For example Zaval et al., (2015) proposed that individuals become more invested in the future when it benefits them. The research concluded that people are more likely to invest into more sustainable living when they are certain their legacy will be remembered.

Whilst this is a really interesting finding, it is questionable in terms of promoting climate change action for all – I find it rather unlikely that everyone who contributes to the fight will have a statue erected as a token of gratitude. The idea does however provide much needed food for thought on the issue and on how to incentivise people to invest in the future.


Dunlap, R.E. (2013) Climate change skepticism and denial: An introduction, Sage Journals . Available at: (Accessed: February 24, 2023). Intext: (Dunlap, 2013)

Weber, E.U. (2015) “What shapes perceptions of climate change? new research since 2010,” WIREs Climate Change, 7(1), pp. 125–134. Available at:  Intext: (Weber, 2015)

Zaval, L., Markowitz, E.M. and Weber, E.U. (2015) “How will I be remembered? conserving the environment for the sake of one’s legacy,” Psychological Science, 26(2), pp. 231–236. Available at: Intext: (Zaval et al., 2015)

Li, Y., Johnson, E.J. and Zaval, L. (2011) “Local warming,” Psychological Science, 22(4), pp. 454–459. Available at: Intext: (Li et al., 2011)

Whitmarsh, L. (2011) “Scepticism and uncertainty about climate change: Dimensions, determinants and change over time,” Global Environmental Change, 21(2), pp. 690–700. Available at: Intext: 

Pierre, J. (2022) Why don’t people believe in climate change?, Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers. Available at: (Accessed: February 24, 2023). (Pierre, 2022)

The Obstructed Horizon: Charting Our Shifting Oceanic Paradigm

by Bruna Ciulli

A couple of years ago, when listening to The Big Sky, in which Kate Bush exclaims, “I’m looking at the big sky/ You never understood me/ You never really tried,” I was hit with a bout of cosmic horror; a torment regarding the unintelligibility of the big sky’s apparent infinitude. Through subsequent sifting through Benjamin Betts’ geometric diagrams of consciousness, fractals and apeirogons, and roaming through Stellarium and Google Earth, I became intrigued with mapping, making the incomprehensible comprehensible. As with the sky, the earth’s oceans are impossibly vast and impenetrable. Standard maps do not do justice to this vastness. Maps of oceans disguise rigid perspectives. They create a false binary between land and sea, human and oceanic. Although coasts are porous, we are accustomed to viewing them as harsh, immutable black lines dividing blue and green. As scholar, and educator Alexis Pauline Gumbs wrote in her essay Being Ocean as Praxis, “Can we imagine beyond the binary between land and sea? Maybe we should, and soon. The ocean is rising.” With its parallel urgency and hesitation this has become a mantra for me as I write to re-evaluate our aesthetic understandings and imaginings of the ocean. 

King Cnut of England was fabled to have cast his crown to God after his orders to the tides to stop rising, were obviously inefficacious. Cnut’s virtue is his recognition of the agency of the sea, one which no amount of kingly and, therefore, godly authority can overpower. Faced with the push and pull of the tide, the agency of the ocean, I imagine Cnut encountered an oceanic feeling. Coined by Romain Rolland in a letter to Freud, an oceanic feeling is a religious feeling “totally independent of all dogma, all credo, all Church organisation, all Sacred Books, all hope in a personal survival, etc., the simple and direct fact of the feeling of the “eternal””

The current paradigm has wasted the oceanic feeling. Using technology can feel eternal, but like chasing a white whale or horizon line it can too easily become heedless and spiritually torturous. Even bathymetric maps don’t foster an oceanic feeling. Though I have no doubts accelerating oceanographic projects are crucial (after all, <25% of the seafloor have been mapped!) I doubt these images will linger in the imaginations of most people or encourage much climate action. It is technology’s sterility which engenders the nihilism of a secular apocalypse- or eventual burning planet.

“Using technology can feel eternal, but like chasing a white whale or horizon line it can too easily become heedless and spiritually torturous”

In her potent eschatological essay Ocean Sensing and Navigating the End of this World, sociologist Jennifer Gabrys notes the futile search for visible evidence in discourses surrounding plastic pollution, when it is in fact a “soup” of microplastics. This, Gabrys suggests, raises the question, “to what extent do environmental problems need to be visible in order to be actionable?” Certainly, if we consider the climate crisis to be a hyperobject, a term describing an object immense compared to a human spatial or temporal dimensions, then its invisibility is what necessitates its very status as a crisis. The nature of global warming’s impact on the ocean as a hyperobject is more pervasive than one might initially think. Elisa Gabbert points out, for example, in Big and Slow, “time-elapse gifs of melting ice don’t help; their extreme compression only minimises the impact of what’s happening at actual size.” 

The ocean itself is a sort of hyperobject, what is beyond the horizon, below the surface may always be obscured. Gabrys writes of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and by extension the Pacific Ocean itself, as a  “society of objects in process”. The technologization of the oceans into the Internet of Things: buoys, remote satellites, instrumented drilling platforms, and high-frequency radar aim to quantify and predict oceanic processes, yet reveal an “ungovernable” ocean.

The sensory society of objects Gabrys describes echoes political theorist and philosopher Jane Bennett’s invocation of the Deleuzian term ‘assemblage’ in her book Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Bennet describes assemblages as “ad hoc groupings of diverse elements, of vibrant materials of all sorts… living, throbbing confederations” and uses the example of an electrical power grid, where elements work together synonymous to an organism. In the case of a blackout on this power grid assemblage, Bennett argues there is not a doer and deed but a “a doing and an effecting by a human-nonhuman assemblage.” Indeed, this can be said of our current marine catastrophes of rising sea levels, bleaching corals, plastic oceans, not to evade responsibility for disaster but to properly reckon with the whole world’s oceanic entanglement. Gumbs put this deftly, “The ocean ourselves is not a mistake. It requires our relation.” Correspondingly, writer, surfer, and scholar Karin Amimoto Ingersoll has discussed the emergence of an “ocean-body assemblage.” 

Scholars such as Gumbs and Amimoto Ingersoll have made waves to shift the current paradigm towards re-embodied commune with the ocean. Being Ocean as Praxis reminds us that we are not simply in assemblage with the ocean but in fact humanity is a body within the oceanic assemblage alongside currents and waves to jellyfish and shipwrecks. Gumbs suggests that “a reckoning with the story the ocean is telling us about climate change” requires “a divestment in being human.” This is not misanthropy but a ceasing of our white suprematist, anthropocentric imaginations. A particularly notable example Gumbs draws upon is the racialized taxonomy the coral Leiopathes glaberrima, whose name Gumbs states is “etymologically related to Leiotrichy, a name for smooth hair in racist ethnology.” In all regards Gumbs calls for, as Gabrys might also suggest, an end of the world made “unbreathable.”

“the rising ocean is wiping out coastal communities, crustaceans can longer form their shells as the ocean acidifies, and between 10-15% of sea life are at immediate risk of extinction”

The colonial nature of the current land-sea paradigm is further critiqued by Amimoto Ingersoll in her book Waves of Knowing: A Seascape Epistemology. Amimoto Ingersoll contrasts Euro-American cartography which is “militaristic, capitalistic, and touristic,” the imperialist forces which Amimoto Ingersoll has defined as threats to Hawaiian culture and environments, with indigenous Kanaka oceanic literacy. Euro-American culture has developed an obsession with boundaries which has been expressed across realms, oceanic striations, sport arenas, and the roots of ‘Otherness’ in Greek literature. Consider, for example, the Euro-American tendency to refer to the seas as something to ‘conquer’ or the ocean as the site of imperialist projects from the transatlantic slave trade to contemporary surf colonialisation.    

Contemporarily, the ocean becomes the centre of colonisation not by traditional conquering, but by the silver-tongued surf tourism industry, who facilitates coastal pollution through the built environment and exploitation of precious water supplies. This form of colonialism is assisted by the “visual vocabulary” of films and postcards, and the “symbolic appropriation though the renaming of surf spots.” He’e nalu (surfing) itself then becomes a language of decolonisation in Hawai’i, one aspect of Kanaka oceanic literacy. 

Kanaka oceanic literacy is an embodied one, which encompasses not just he’e nalu but also poetry, oral histories, art, na ko’a (altars) used to mark fishing grounds and honour gods. It is the application of ‘seascape epistemology’; knowledge of where the sea is shallow and deep, the breadth of a coral reef and the drops in the seabed, the rhythms of the tides and limitations of one’s body, patterns in the clouds, seaweed, and ripples. Kanaka oceanic literacy is “an aesthetic political literacy” with “the ability to engage all types of movement” engaging with the ocean through emotional experience, “empirical observations,” and “subjective sensations.” Time and space are altered through a process of “de-creating and re-creating.” The binary is broken down as the ocean becomes ambiguous “extensions” of the land and self. The ocean shapes us and we shape it. We are fundamentally made of the same stuff – our blood itself is a kind of salt water. We are both enmeshed with its diversity and yet the exact same ‘thing.’ 

Now, emerging from our oceanic assemblage, the rising ocean is wiping out coastal communities, crustaceans can longer form their shells as the ocean acidifies, and between 10-15% of sea life are at immediate risk of extinction. Why are we denying the oceanic nature of our bodies? Why are we suppressing oceanic feelings? To counteract this form of alienation so violent it risks the future of life on earth we must reject the illusion of separation. After all what is the horizon but an unreal phantasm- out there is the edge of the ocean! Through our bodies make the rising tide visible, uncover the waves beyond the horizon. Allowing humanity not to be destroyed but dissolved. 

Ireland’s Updated Climate Action Plan 

by Eoin Brennan

In December, the Irish Government released its new and updated Climate Action Plan 2023. It is the first plan following the introduction of country-wide carbon budgets in July, which featured emissions targets for specific industries. This is the second time the 2019 Climate Action Plan has been amended. This article will discuss what has changed, the quality of those changes, and reactions to the plan.

According to the Government, the plan is a pathway to “how Ireland can accelerate the actions that are required to respond to the climate crisis.” The plan is arranged into six vital high-impact sectors. They are Powering Renewables, Building Better, Transforming How We Travel, Making Family Farms More Sustainable, Green Business & Enterprise, and Changing Our Land Use. Emission reduction targets in each sector differ from a 75% reduction in the powering renewable sector emissions to a 25% reduction in agricultural emissions by 2030. 

“the plan doesn’t detail any legal tools for the committee to intervene if necessary or to research other regions”

The plan’s contents are vast, but it’s a necessary undertaking considering the climate and biodiversity crisis. However, is it the right projected proposal with the necessary detail? For instance, the plan states that a “Just Transition” committee would be set up. This is a crucial step, to ensure that the green revolution is equitable and that the most vulnerable are supported. While the report rightly acknowledges that the midlands will be the first region “to directly experience the negative impacts of the transition away from fossil fuels,” the plan doesn’t detail any legal tools for the committee to intervene if necessary or to research other regions. Is this just another toothless committee? The report states that the committee “will be established to provide advice to Government.” The lack of directional detail is disappointing, and this oversight affects large swathes of the actions in the plan.

Another example is offshore wind, part of the powering renewables sector. It is long held as the flagbearer for Ireland’s climate solutions and a crucial element of our energy emissions targets. To highlight this, the report decrees, “the development of Ireland’s offshore wind energy potential can help to improve the sustainability of our national and European energy sector, it will improve our security of supply and its affordability.” That sounds like fantastic news, but it is a shallow statement, nonetheless. Details are scarce, and the report calls for an Offshore Wind Delivery Taskforce. The task force will publish another plan, a system-wide plan of action. The report doesn’t detail the work to be carried out or the force’s composition. Will it be interdepartmental? The report doesn’t mention creating a wind-farm port deep enough to launch wind turbines (we currently have no such ports in the Republic). The report details grid infrastructure changes but does not mention the needed investment or fast-tracking of the planning process. This hints at significant flaws in the Climate Action Plan 2023. It only creates more plans. There are few direct actions. The plan seems almost entirely devoid of any challenging, strict measures that can be undertaken immediately. However, the main challenge now is the implementation of the plan. It is desperately needed.

“walking, cycling, and public transport to account for 50% of our journeys by 2030”.

The other high-impact sectors have sweeping actions too. The ‘Building Better Sector’ calls for retrofitting 120,000 dwellings to Building Energy Rating Certificate (BER) B2 by 2025, with a target of 500,000 for 2030. The ‘Transforming How We Travel’ sector dumps the previous commitment of one million electric cars and instead seeks to have a third of all private vehicles on the road, be electric. This report emphasizes active forms of transport, with walking, cycling, and public transport to account for 50% of our journeys by 2030. 70% of people in rural Ireland will have buses that provide at least three trips to the nearby town daily by 2030. The agricultural sector is mentioned below. The ‘Greening Business and Enterprise Sector’ aims to decrease embodied carbon in construction produced and used by 30%. The final industry, ‘Changing Our Land Use’, aims to increase our annual afforestation rates to 8,000 acres hectares per annum from 2023 onwards. These are mammoth plans and will need immediate implementation. 

The analysis from environmentalists and scientific bodies recommends something similar. Friends of the Earth, in a statement, notes that the plan is a step in the right direction. However, it said that “2023 must see a laser-like focus on implementation, implementation, and implementation.” They also highlighted that this is the first plan after the climate act.

“Ministers now have an individual responsibility to act on the sector emissions targets for their area. This is a fantastic first for this country and demands more inspired leadership”.

Ministers now have an individual responsibility to act on the sector emissions targets for their area. This is a fantastic first for this country and demands more inspired leadership. The Climate Change Advisory Council, the body responsible for advising the Government on the crisis, had a more subdued response. They note the 26 million tonngges of CO2 emissions, which are yet to be allocated and dependent on “emerging technologies”. The council states, “despite the progress in the new climate action plan, the remaining gap of unallocated emissions reductions is a substantial concern”. They also urge swift implementation of the plans.

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA) response was optimistic, noting that they were committed to reducing emissions but could not come at the cost of farmers’ livelihoods or by reducing output. The IFA continued by saying that the “focus must be on reducing emissions, not on reducing cattle numbers”. This has become a divisive debate among agricultural stakeholders. The Government now proposes to cap cattle numbers, even though the expected cut of 10% of the national herd was not in the final plan. Overall, the association’s message urged significant engagement with farmers. Specifically, the plan proposed actions on agriculture include: a substantial reduction in chemical nitrogen as a fertilizer and increasing organic farming to 450,000 hectares by 2030. Again, the plan lacks detail; it talks about diversifying farmer income streams. However, it does so without specifying how the Government will support this diversification.

While I was writing this, Met Eireann announced that “2022 was the warmest year on record for Ireland” since 1900. It is the 12th consecutive year with above-average temperatures in Ireland. These climate action plans are essential, and the 2023 action plan showcases an enormous positive shift in policymakers’ ambition and understanding of the climate and biodiversity crisis. The real problem is that it’s just a plan; we should be beyond plan-making and moving toward unprecedented implementation. That will be the real test of political leadership and bravery. The time to act is now, we don’t want to hear about another plan, not when climate breakdown is hitting the poorest people in the world, and its effects are more visible than ever. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. In this case, life is climate breakdown. Implementation is challenging, but the effects of climate change are already here and accelerating, so we need to make these changes before it’s too late. 

The History of the Decline of Irish Rail Networks

by Ellen Duggan

I’m afraid before I introduce you to the tragic history of the decline of the once-glorious Irish rail network, I must confess a bias. Not only a bias towards the train as a means of transport (as any student can tell you, it is much easier to write an essay on a train than a bus) but a bias instilled in me from an early age by my father.

On many occasions, driving the backroads of Tipperary, he has gazed at the road ahead of him and mournfully stated that were he in government, the first thing he would do is bring back the trains. My sympathy for his nostalgia is somewhat tempered by the fact that our nearest train station, Laffansbridge, ceased operating before he was born, rendering his wistfulness for a bygone era somewhat dramatic, but on the whole, I find myself agreeing with him.

Our current rail system is generally based around services between major urban centres, with pauses at smaller stations on the same line. It is so poorly connected that a rail journey from Waterford to Wexford, a journey which takes an hour by car, takes six hours by rail. Once upon a time, the vast majority of towns in rural Ireland had their own train station that connected them to local areas and, allegedly, in the North almost everyone lived within five minutes of a railway station.

For those living in areas not served by a rail network, the available public transport is often inadequate for the needs of those in the community. Public transport providing access to train stations tends to coincide poorly with the train’s timetable due to a lack of integration between train and bus timetables. Donegal has notoriously been left without rail services since 1959, a cause of much concern for those living in or attending college in the county. As a friend of mine once declared, “One hundred years ago my great granny’s American communist artist suitor could get a train to Donegal and I can’t.” 

“Once upon a time, the vast majority of towns in rural Ireland had their own train station that connected them to local areas”.

The history of the Irish rail network is well-documented, with societies such as the Irish Railway Archive and museums scattered throughout the country dedicated to preserving the memory of the golden age of Irish transport. In 1834, the first railway in Ireland opened, stretching from Westland Row to Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire). By 1860, several small rail companies popped up across the country. An Act introduced by Arthur Balfor, then Chief Secretary of Ireland, in the early 1890s provided State assistance for the construction of so-called ‘Balfour Lines’- mostly light railways in rural areas in Ireland. This Act led to the vast majority of the country being connected by rail.

After Partition, most lines in the south of the country were amalgamated from smaller, separate companies into the Great Southern Railways company in 1925. It was around this time that the decline began. The Civil War took a heavy toll on railways in the Irish Free State. Furthermore, the effects of World War II led to an inadequate supply of coal. With the deteriorating quality and infrequency of service discouraging passengers, many lines were closed, citing lack of use. In 1945, Great Southern Railways was dissolved and its assets were transferred to Coras Iompair Eireann. Which, unfortunately, experienced major losses over its first decade in business, and these struggles alongside a Northern Irish government pushing anti-rail policies vehemently led to the dissolution of train services in the North West of the island.

“By 1860 a host of small rail companies had popped up across the country, and the railway spanned 2,170km”.

During the 1950s, lines that were entirely in the north were transferred to the Ulster Transport Authority, lines in the south were transferred to the CIE and almost all cross-border lines were closed. Transport Acts passed in 1958 and 1964 in the Republic of Ireland led to the closure of the majority of rural lines. Further line closures occurred in the seventies, marking the beginning of a period to last until the 1980s, in which the only major development in rail services was the creation of the DART. The CIE was heavily in debt by the late eighties, and, following recommendations to increase focus on bus services, another Transport Act in 1986 meant the CIE was split into Iarnrod Eireann, Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus. Since then rural transport initiatives have focused on bus routes, and the development of the Rural Transport Programme in 2007 saw the eventual establishment of 18 Local Link areas.

As a teenager who couldn’t drive in rural Tipperary, the little white bus driving through my village was the ultimate symbol of freedom. But if the government truly wants to commit to a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050,then buses are not the best way to go about it. A 2019 study by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy shows that travelling by rail is the best option for the environment over moderate-to-long distances. In 2018, transport accounted for 25% of EU greenhouse gas emissions. Rail contributed only 0.4% of this, with emissions by diesel trains only. 127 million regional bus journeys, excluding the vast amount of city services, were taken across the island of Ireland in 2019, with only 65 million rail journeys made in comparison. Furthermore, the distance travelled by car has increased within the past decade. If our leaders truly want to commit to the National Development Plan, which professes aims of enhancing regional accessibility and commitment to sustainable mobility, then the train is the best route to take.

Furthermore, if we consider the North West region, where the tourist industry supports more than 29,000 jobs and welcomes nearly 300,000 visitors from overseas annually (as well as hundreds of thousands of domestic tourists). The fact that such an expansive region is forced to depend on either car or unreliable bus service for transport is surely unappealing to prospective visitors, as well as those from the area. Chloe McBrearty, a first-year psychology student from Donegal, told me that most young people are forced to drive rather than take the bus, citing the comparative length of journeys and the inconvenient scheduling of routes. Even if the prospect of driving is at odds with concerns for the environmental damage caused by the use of diesel and petrol cars, the benefits of driving so far outweigh the discomfort of a long bus journey to Dublin that a car is an obvious option. Studies on the social consequences of rail closures in the UK indicate the contribution of these closures to rural depopulation, and marked reductions in travel to the areas previously served. While a similar study has not been done in Ireland, when railways were introduced into rural areas in the nineteenth century, they provided a lifeline for isolated farming communities to nearby towns as well as major cities. 

“if the government truly wants to commit to a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050, then buses are not the best way to go about it”

So what kind of rail network do we have today? Ongoing projects set to be completed between 2023 and 2027 include additions to the intercity fleet, expansion of rail infrastructure in the Cork metropolitan area and the proposed MetroLink. The MetroLink will be particularly important as the alignment will link Dublin Airport, Irish Rail, DART, Dublin Bus and Luas services, as well as connecting key destinations. As for the abandoned tracks, nobody is quite sure what is going to happen to them. In 2010, the Great Western Greenway was built upon the Westport to Achill line, a 44 km cycling and walking trail on the Wild Atlantic Way. The Greenway was a huge success and was voted the top three cycle trails in the world by the New York Times. It has stimulated growth, particularly in the hospitality and tourism industries, bringing in over 250,000 visitors annually, as well as providing a valuable local amenity. Its success has inspired the creation of more Greenways across the country, perhaps most notably the Waterford Greenway, which opened in 2017 and is similarly located on a disused line. In 2023, €63 million will be allocated to the further development of Greenways, with Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan confirming the development of cycling and walking infrastructure being key to sustainable tourism and strengthening rural communities.

Despite the accomplishments of Greenways in the regions in which they have been implemented, many are dissatisfied with the fact that with the majority of rail infrastructure still intact, there has not been more investment in making use of the abandoned tracks to improve rural rail services. The All Ireland Strategic Rail Review was commissioned in 2021 by both governments of Ireland, with British engineering firm Arup undertaking the review. Minister Ryan and Nicola Mallon, previous Minister for Infrastructure of Northern Ireland, claim the review will consider how the rail network on the island can improve to promote sustainable connectivity in major urban centres, improve regional accessibility and support regional development. The draft of the review is currently being finalised, but Minister Ryan has implied that it will not be published until the restoration of the assembly. A recent article in the Journal claims that the review will recommend the reopening of some regional lines, with some updates to infrastructure. Among those mentioned are the West and South West Lines, which previously were set to be converted into Greenways. 

After many years, it’s possible that the decline of the great Irish railroad has reached an end, and that we are about to see an improvement in rail services offered on the island. It may be that my father gets his dream after all.

Maximalism: A Case For More Over Less in Living Sustainably

by Becca Payling

The idea that we need to slow down is an undisputed fact. Through the growing conversations around slow living, de-influencing and the importance of community, corporation tactics and advertising strategies that entice us to buy their products and continue to strip the planet of its resources are becoming increasingly evident. Consumption – the endless chase of wanting ‘more’ – appeals to our need for individuality, to feel validated, but according to studies such as that of Moldes & Ku (2020), consumption, ultimately, makes us unhappy.

Cue minimalism. The breath of fresh linen entering the world of interior design.  A quiet middle finger to the ornate and intricate essences of the renaissance era, by replacing baroque with basic, it gave people the change to bridge the wealth gap while still being stylish, rolling in a new era of design. Now a monochrome pristine apartment in NYC, lightly furnished, is the domestic face of the American dream. The wave of design discretion had its benefits elsewhere; the birth of the capsule wardrobe encouraged people to curate a closet full of matching outfits that can be worn multiple ways, saving on space, and supposedly, money too.  

But is this decluttering, and the desire for more open spaces in the home, actually claustrophobic? 

I first heard of the term ‘maximalism’ by Kamea Chayne, a writer and host of the Green Dreamer Podcast, who used it to describe her practice of saving and sharing her resources, and maximising their use. It is a practice that pertains to the ideology of ‘more is more’ but must not be confused with the ‘excess’ that defines hoarding, which is a disorder and should not be glamourised, nor the way citizens are pressured to buy things they don’t need. For me, learning of this term was the breath of neroli, bergamot (and maybe amber?) air after my confusion at seeing minimalism entwined with sustainability discussions so frequently. In a household where I had grown up with a bag of old, used plastic bags under the sink as bin liners, for the stash of ribbons off old pyjama sets for gift wrapping, my mum’s affinity to collect charming or otherwise boxes ‘just in case’, and the 20+ year old sturdy Morrison’s bags we did the groceries with, minimalism just went against every zero waste value with which I had been raised. In fact, I would argue that maximalism has a far broader scope to encapsulate environmental values than minimalism. 

“Where minimalism is choked of colour and creativity, maximalism celebrates the plethora of possibilities in earnest.”

Maximalism can be largely defined by diversity of design. Where minimalism is choked of colour and creativity, maximalism celebrates the plethora of possibilities in earnest. In terms of environmental mindfulness, maximalism echoes our need to transition from a linear to circular economy. It echoes flea market knick-knacks, hereditary furniture, jewellery, the wonky homemade. In contrast, monochrome furniture would be most likely bought brand new; stains or other signs of wear presumably add too much to an otherwise unadorned chair. And how much waste in the process of making such simple furniture is hiding behind these perfectly curated indoor landscapes? 

For clothes, maximalism offers up unbound enthusiasm to clash styles, create new looks, and the sociability of sharing and giving away clothes in swap shops or online. Upcycling forms a large and personal component to maximalism, making use of items you already have, and transforming them. It closes the loop. On the other hand, capsule wardrobes – minimalism couture – are cute and functional in a static sense, but leave no room for personal styles to evolve through time, and encourage tight possession of the limited clothes you have. Furthermore, when you trawl Etsy or Redbubble for the perfect gift for a friend that appeals to a niche interest of theirs, you are supporting a small business- and the passionate people behind it. That flower print embellished with an in-joke, or your name, is wildly more important and impactful than the furnishing of an IKEA influencer!  

Some have even suggested embracing maximalism is part of decolonisation, by appreciating the design of other cultures. If maximalism fosters fusion of styles, cultures and ideas, this is precisely the mindset we need to make sustainability more accessible, and to create better transdisciplinary frameworks for industries to become more transparent and ecologically-sound. We need more environmental impact assessments, more B-Corp certifications, more take-back schemes, more design thinking, to create low-carbon and circular practices.

Happily, for people like me, maximalism is seeping back into clothing (other #cottagecore girlies anywhere??), indoor aesthetic, and even gardens. Even Marie Kondo, a figurehead for minimalism has stopped decluttering with the vigour her books suggest – adducing a shift in her priorities to spending more time with her children. Especially with the pandemic, people seem more eager to create Instagram posts for their holidays spent staycationing around one of Ireland’s castles or surrounded by England’s thatched villages, rather than a staccato landscape of NYC skyscrapers or a homogeneous tropical, tourist-heavy beach. Venice and Paris, the homes of an array of architecture, are still the most popular tourist spots in Europe. More and more cities are embracing green infrastructure, community gardening, or urban habitats that may have traditionally been considered ‘messy’, not only in recognition of the abundance of ecosystem services these structures provide, but also because of their wild but calming appearance. Even in Trinity, we have evolved from the Death Star-esque Arts Block to the Living Wall of the Business School. 

“the shift towards maximalism makes me so proud of the odd old mini shampoo bottles we’d take instead of buying new on holiday”

Even though, as a child, embracing this messy side of sustainable living was more for financial than environmental reasons, the shift towards maximalism makes me so proud of all the odd old mini shampoo bottles we’d take instead of buying new on holiday, my (rainbow) preloved wardrobe, and all the boxes we have for different Terracycle bins in the dining room back home. And if you still prefer a geometric print to a collage of Cicely Mary Barker’s flower fairies on your wall, or Samuel Beckett to J.R.R. Tolkien, that’s still cool too. Being open-minded to differing preferences, needs and beings (human or otherwise) is key in co-creating a healthy planet. This way, maximalism opens doors, challenges the status quo, acting as the expression of the radical transformation the planet and society urgently require.

After all, as narrated by Braungart & McDonough (2008): diversity is nature’s design framework, and ecosystems don’t function through limits and suppression, they operate in a regenerative abundance. 

Student Climate Coalition Launched in Trinity

by Roisin Dolliver

Third level students have always been primary drivers of political change. We’re keen, curious, privileged in our education, and precarious in most other aspects. We are a community of likeminded people and have access to numerous resources. In short, we’re pretty perfect activist material.

So why hasn’t there been a greater collective push for climate action from third level students? It’s not for lack of trying. In Trinity alone, I can count eleven separate student bodies addressing environmental issues. And we aren’t so special: this response is occurring in almost all educational institutions around Ireland. Our issue is that we’re all acting in silo and lack coherence. Apart from the odd email, we have no established connections to environmentalist groups on other campuses.

“Fridays for Future showed us what was possible when secondary students come together”

Fridays for Future showed us what was possible when secondary students come together and speak out against our government’s inadequate response to climate change. I reckon its high time we started pulling our weight!

‘Time to Act’ (who you might remember from their march last semester), were approached by both the UCC Vegan Society and Maynooth Environmental Society about possible collaborations and prompted us to start a Student Climate Coalition. The main goals of the coalition are to share information, to organise large scale demonstrations, to support climate action campaigns, and to form a body of support and solidarity.

“None of us can make lasting impact on our own, especially on the issue of climate change, where change sometimes feels like an impossible task”

None of us can make lasting impact on our own, especially on the issue of climate change, where change sometimes feels like an impossible task. The power of peer support is not to be underestimated. Building better lines of communication and consolidating our voices are  incredibly powerful and positive actions. Even in helping this far, I’ve been so energised by the enthusiasm of those we reached out to. Already, we have members from DCU, TU Dublin, NCAD, MTU, NUIG and UCC – all of whom unhesitatingly committed from first contact. We’re already talking about organising a climate camp where we can hold workshops, share activism and environmentalist tricks, and maybe hold an action or two.

Before that though, we’ve got marches to go to. On March 3rd, Fridays for Future will protest against Fossil Fuels and Fossil Finance. At the time of writing this, some of the details are still up in the air but hopefully all will go well. For now, the Student Climate Coalition is in force and ready for action.

COP27: What You Need to Know 

By Macyn Hanzlik-Barend 

On November 6th, 2022 over 35,000 attendees came together for the commencement of the 27th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP27. This conference was held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, leading many to refer to it as the ‘African COP’ or the ‘Implementation COP.’ 

Despite an outpouring of praise from various media outlets, including the BBC and The Washington Post, regarding COP27’s outcomes as ‘historic’, gaining a comprehensive understanding of just what historic means has proven difficult for many. This article will attempt to break down what COP 27 tangibly accomplished. 

First, some background on what COP is. This momentous conference was sparked by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a treaty that acknowledges human contribution to climate change and commits to combatant efforts. The is responsible for all negotiations relating to this convention. Since 1995, this conference has met yearly to negotiate international decisions regarding climate action. 

“COP27 worked to expand on these pre-established promises and aimed to put further functional practices in place”

Throughout COP’s history, multiple ‘historic’ agreements have been reached. Namely, the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, and the Glasgow Climate Pact. A quick debrief on these three agreements will help clarify what was achieved in Egypt. The Kyoto Protocol, established in 1997 at COP3, ensured that member states of the conference committed to reducing greenhouse gases. This pact was the first global agreement to combat global warming, and each COP since is founded on this promise. The Paris Agreement, signed at COP 21 in 2015, established the goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This was agreed to by the world’s largest emitters. Finally, the Glasgow Pact, established in 2021 at COP26, re-emphasised the commitment to reduce greenhouse gases with a target temperature rise of 1.5°C. COP27 worked to expand on these pre-established promises and aimed to put further functional practices in place.

The lauded achievement of COP27 is known as the loss and damage fund. This fund would provide a resource for vulnerable countries to draw from following climate-fueled disasters. The establishment of this trust was the most contentious issue discussed when writing the Paris Agreement and came to no conclusion. Now the parties have reached an agreement to begin constructing this fund. According to a report from the UNFCCC, a number of multimillion-dollar pledges to the fund have been made from countries including Austria, Canada, Germany, and New Zealand. Although this promise is significant, it is far from being functional. The committee has yet to decide how the fund will be constructed and which member states will financially contribute. Additionally, they must decide which claims will be eligible for compensation. Though a committee has been delegated to discuss these obstacles, progress has been put off until COP28 at least, negating the goal of ‘implementation.’ Despite the headlines, the loss and damage fund was not the only accomplishment of this COP. 

Various governments and global organisations contributed to funding. The United States government contributed $150 million in support of Africa’s efforts to combat climate change and assist in the inauguration of the Cairo Center for Learning and Excellence on Adaptation and Resilience. Egypt also secured $15 billion in funding for the Nexus of Water-Food-Energy (NWFE) project, which focuses on food and water security on the African continent. Several climate-focused foundations have also announced notable investments in sustainable energy. Regardless of these contributions, many world leaders concluded that they were not sufficient. The final statement of COP27 included a call for the “transformation of the financial system and its structures,” specifically the World Bank and other multilateral development banks, in order to make palpable changes with the shortening timeline. Though this pledge is a first, COP has once again left the decision-making up to multimillion-dollar organisations, simply suggesting that they do the right thing. 

“As climate disasters are becoming more sudden and destructive each year, the global community must come together to help those that cannot bounce back so easily”

Priorities also slightly differed at this COP. There was a new focus on agriculture, dedicating a whole day of the conference to the topic. This led to the Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation initiative, which pledges to put funding towards adapting food sourcing systems to the changing climate. Many of these improvements have been made with low- and middle-income countries in mind. As climate disasters are becoming more sudden and destructive each year, the global community must come together to help those countries that cannot bounce back so easily. At the conference, UN Secretary General

António Guterres announced a plan with an investment of 3.1 billion USD to construct early warning systems for the whole world within the next five years. Though ambitious, this pledge shows a commitment to combating the inevitable consequences of climate change, not just prevention. In order to ensure that these promises are likely to turn into action, the first stocktake was taken at this COP, allowing countries to see what tangible progress they have made. This initiative was established as part of the Paris Agreement and will continue at future conferences. 

Instituting a pivotal first, COP27 explicitly established climate stability as a human right. This demonstrates the changing attitude among leaders towards the climate crisis. This shift is likely due to the conference’s expanded audience. This year, COP27 held the first youth-led climate forum in an attempt to acknowledge the next generation of climate activists and hear an inclusive range of opinions on the issue. 

“Greenhouse gas emissions must decrease by 45-50% before the year 2030 in order to reach the 1.5°C temperature target.”

Despite the many positives of this COP, the outcomes are inadequate. UN Climate Change released a report revealing that greenhouse gas emissions must decrease by 45-50% before the year 2030 in order to reach the 1.5°C temperature target. Despite numerous pledges made throughout the conference, the COP failed to enact legal consequences and thus cannot make any promises about the actions of the member states. According to the UN magazine Africa Renewal, COP27 “did not achieve much success around mitigation. It was unable to reach agreement, for example, on phasing out of coal and other fossil fuels or setting emission peaking periods.” So in short, COP27 was historic in words; however, the world is left wondering if governments will take substantial action to resist the climate crisis.

Trinity’s Climate Activists Strike to End Fossil Fuel Financing

By Faye Murphy

On March 3rd, a global climate strike organised by Fridays for Future took place. The protest was organised in response to the continued financing of the fossil fuel industry. Despite the growing awareness of the dangers of climate change, many governments and corporations continue to invest in the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, contributing to rising temperatures, sea-level rise, and other devastating consequences.

Although organised by Fridays for Future, the strike was supported by various Trinity climate action groups, as well as Extinction Rebellion, Irish Doctors for the Environment and new group, the Student Climate Coalition. In their reasoning for protesting, Fridays for Future stated that the “fossil financing of global north governments enables Shell, TotalEnergies, Repsol, Perenco or Chevron to neo-colonial exploitation, wars and human rights violations.”

“the strike was supported by various Trinity climate action groups, as well as Extinction Rebellion, Irish Doctors for the Environment and new group, the Student Climate Coalition”

They continued, “investing in fossil fuel projects, not only is fully incompatible with the Paris Agreement and international law, but it is a criminal act with deadly consequences”, stating that “frontline communities” have been “paying for their [global north governments] greed since the onset of colonialism.”

In conversation with Evergreen, the newly formed climate action group, Time to Act TCD, began saying, “we’re attending to show our opposition to the continued success of the Fossil Fuel industry and the influence of Fossil Finance”. They carried on, stating that “one aim of the protest is to support the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty which is something that we have campaigned on in the past so we’re keen to support it again”.

By attending the strike with the newly formed “Student Climate Crisis Coalition”, a coalition of organisations, unions and individuals from third-level institutions across Ireland, Time to Act TCD hoped to “provide a voice for students (and specifically trinity students) within the climate movement”. In response to this protest, Student Climate Crisis Coalition demanded that “Ireland legislate to prevent the construction of any new LSG terminals”.

When speaking to Trinity’s Environmental Society (EnviroSoc), they declared that they “want to see an end to the financing of fossil fuel companies”. They expressed their belief that “the current economic system is destroying our planet” and continued by noting “investments in fossil fuels are being used to fund oil and gas exploration, with the goal of continuing to burn fossil fuels and continuing to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This has to stop.”

The society voiced “we want global temperature rises to stay under 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC report has made it extremely clear that we only have a short period of time to ensure it does so”. In line with the demands of Fridays for Future, Envirosoc want “climate justice and equity”, adding “currently the countries with the lowest emissions are facing the worst effects of climate change, while the corporations who are responsible continue to make record profits”. They hoped to “support Fridays for Future and the Student Climate Crisis Coalition and to end fossil finance”.

“On a global scale, over 140 strikes were organised across Europe, approximately 80 in both North America and Africa, with 399 registered Fridays for Future strikes taking place worldwide”

Within Ireland, the protest was not only organised in Dublin, from the Garden of Remembrance to Leinster House, but smaller demonstrations took place in Galway and Cork. On a global scale, over 140 strikes were organised across Europe, approximately 80 in both North America and Africa, with 399 registered Fridays for Future strikes taking place worldwide. Fridays for Future called on everyone to “grassroots organise and act against fossil capitalism through the means of action suitable for them”, whether it be “from voting to civil disobedience”.

The Climate vs. Capitalism

by Steven James

There are a multitude of factors contributing to the ever-deteriorating climate situation we are facing. Overpopulation, lack of recycling, overconsumption of finite resources, and manufacturing of compounds and gases that are destroying our environment are not only examples of these factors, but also markers of a growing global economy. Despite being at different levels of economic growth, every country has more or less followed the same pathway towards building wealth: consume resources, build and expand, worry about the repercussions later.

If it costs more to dump waste than to recycle it, dump it. This behaviour is certainly encouraged by a capitalist market, where the goal of each member is to maximise productivity to optimise profit. Despite having zero care for the environment or living sustainably, capitalism certainly has its benefits – it allows for higher standards of living and ample employment opportunities, where one’s opportunities are endless. However, these opportunities can only remain endless if we have a habitable planet to live on.

Curbing climate change and capitalistic values do not go hand in hand. Government policies that cut down on environmental pollution will generally also slow economic growth – it is near to impossible to find solutions that allow economic growth and protect our environment simultaneously (or else we wouldn’t be in this mess!!). At a corporate level, capitalist markets provide no incentives for sustainability – protecting the environment comes at a cost, and very few corporations are willing to risk losing out to competitors by making sustainable choices that are actually impactful. Is this solely to blame on capitalism, or is will this always be a problem regardless of the economic model in place?

If a solely capitalist model is a certain death sentence for the environment, could governments step in and regulate markets that are damaging the climate the most? Could a mixed economic system give corporations a financial crutch in order to make better choices for the environment? The vast majority of wealthy countries actually have mixed economic systems, where some industries are regulated by their government, and the remainder are privately owned.

Ireland is an obvious example of this, and unfortunately is also a clear example of why mixed economic models are no better than full-blown capitalist models for the environment. In 2020, Ireland was ranked among the worst countries in the developed world for our climate crisis response. Despite declaring a ‘climate emergency’ in 2019, carbon emissions in Ireland continue to rise. The Irish government have failed time and time again to set achievable targets for emission reduction, constantly being slowed down by TD’s defending the agricultural industry. 

In an ideal world, our government could help lift the financial burden placed on the agricultural industry in order for them to drastically reduce emissions. In the real world, nobody is willing to take a pay cut to help the environment. Our government is currently faced with two options; either make a small reduction into emissions in the agriculture, which is probably going to be too little to make a positive difference and will potentially put some farmers out of business, or else they can make a decent reduction in agricultural emissions while bankrupting several farmers and threatening our country’s food supply.

What they won’t do is make considerable reductions in agriculture and support farmers financially through the process, ensuring food security, job stability and progress on climate protection. Why? Because that will cost too much money. Through smart investment, mixed economic systems could definitely lend a hand to the industries that effect climate change the most, giving all market competitors incentives to become more sustainable. Sadly, not many governments see this as a useful investment, certainly not the Irish government.This may seem bleak, but there is hope for the future.

Despite the fact that a capitalist economy will pillage and destroy its environment to irradicate poverty, once this objective is complete, there is an opportunity for this damage to be reversed. Capitalist markets encourage competition between some of our brightest and most creative minds, as well as demanding constant innovation to fix the most prominent problems faced by society. In recent times, eradicating poverty and starvation was the prime objective of many nations, but soon their focus will shift to saving the planet.

The dark shadow of climate change continues to loom over us, getting darker as the days go by, and not long from now it will become a problem we simply cannot ignore, finally making climate change somewhat profitable to investors. This will hopefully spark an influx of money into new technologies and strategies to combat climate change – it is sad that we have to wait until saving our planet becomes profitable before major investment into this industry happens, but money truly does make the world go round.