An increase in the carbon tax of €7.50 each year until 2030 will help, especially if the government invests this new revenue in making homes more efficient, but Ireland must support nuclear energy production and future-proof its gas generation for the growth of blue hydrogen. Little policy has been put in place to achieve the 7 per cent per year emissions reductions which will be needed to reach the 2050 target. Until green hydrogen becomes cheaper and more achievable at scale, blue hydrogen (at half the price of its green counterpart) needs to be at the heart of the Irish decarbonisation process. This focus, combined with relaxed legislation and tax breaks for sustainable business practices and providing consumers with more choice to vote with their wallets, will allow Ireland to join the world in achieving net zero status while remaining competitive and stable. Finally, Ireland’s energy grid needs desperate reform. With all these changes in progress, decarbonisation will become more difficult as time goes on and the easier choices run out, leaving the more difficult and costly decisions to be made later down the line. If Ireland focuses on these three primary sectors, it could begin reducing the source of two-thirds of their emissions. All nations face this challenge, and Irish research and development can be part of the solution when supported by impact investors and private equity. Large companies are included under the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) but they only accounted for a quarter of Irish emissions in 2018. Wind and solar are not powerful or reliable enough to make up 80% of the Irish grid – this may be a decision Ireland comes to regret. The Irish government announced a further two weeks of restrictions due to Covid-19 until 18 May followed by a gradual reopening the Irish economy and wider society over the next few months. epa08398556 A container ship sails off Dublin Port in Dublin, Ireland, 03 May 2020. The agricultural sector is currently exempt from Ireland’s carbon tax, but this will not last forever, and prices and farmers’ margins will be affected by the rule change when it inevitably arrives. Facebook

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The Republic of Ireland has committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, after the coalition government of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Greens passed the climate bill back in March 2021. efforts will need to be made to electrify vehicles and provide the necessary infrastructure (such as charging stations) to make a less carbon-intensive transport industry a reality. The demand for energy will continue to increase as the population grows and businesses bloom, and whilst population growth, immigration and prosperity are all good things, they will inevitably contribute to greater greenhouse gas emissions unless Irish energy is generated from green sources. If Ireland wants to reach its 7 per cent per year target, it needs to begin considering the pros and cons of the difficult decisions now, because many of these changes – specifically reform of Ireland’s energy grid – will take decades to enact. The Irish government’s Climate Action Plan 2050, published in November, sadly relies on state-led solutions and a degrowth mentality which will not allow Ireland to decarbonise without sharp contractions in productivity and growth, and severe disturbances in vital sectors and markets. Phasing out coal and incentivising walking are nice goals that will be better for the planet, but we cannot achieve the change required unless we embrace nuclear energy, electrify public and private transport, and allow the private sector to innovate through tax breaks. One of Ireland’s major obstacles to decarbonisation will be the agricultural industry, which produces a third (33 per cent) of Irish emissions, and particularly produces methane emissions, which dissipate more rapidly than carbon dioxide, but which are 80 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Another is transportation, which is the source of almost 20 per cent of Irish emissions. Using France as a model to emulate, Ireland can decarbonise without risking energy shortages due to the changeability of the weather and the lack of sunshine we sadly experience. The Irish government seeks to spend €125 billion on this climate plan, but it will likely go over budget as the negative externalities of agriculture, transportation and energy become apparent and markets become spooked. EPA-EFE/AIDAN CRAWLEY

Dublin's shipyards. This is the only real option to achieve our environmental goals while maintaining our standard of living – we must be bold enough to embrace it. No country can flick a sustainable switch somewhere and manage to decarbonise in a handful of years, and Ireland must be sure to avoid over-politicising potential solutions such as nuclear and begin laying the groundwork for a transition to cleaner sources of energy. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Ireland’s climate action plan must look beyond de-growth led by the state

By Joshua Taggart
An environmental economist and researcher who has worked for the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Entrepreneurs Network and the European Policy Information Center.

The Uzbek delegation travelled to the Torkham border to witness the arrival of four cargo trucks all the way from Uzbekistan via Afghanistan to Pakistan. The criticality of the Afghan situation is compelling the Central Asian states to edge closer and China and Russia to intensify their cooperation and coordination to strengthen regional security. It is against such a dynamic background that the second development of the month, on November 8, needs to be assessed — the dramatic announcement by Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister Akylbek Zhaparov that Bishkek is ready to proceed with a long-standing project by Beijing to build a railway line to connect China with Uzbekistan. To be sure, the developments in Afghanistan dominated the one-on-one meeting between Yusuf and Makhmudov. No wonder, Uzbek foreign policies have been performing so brilliantly amidst a challenging external environment. In March, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan agreed to a roadmap for the building of a 573-kilometre route from Mazar-e-Sharif to Peshawar, via Kabul. From the Russian viewpoint, as the proposed Central Asian rail grid gets connected to the Russian grid. Personal equations at leadership level help advance geostrategy in the steppes and both leaders are conscious of the imperatives of politics and economics that push them together. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa received the Uzbek delegation. Yusuf said Islamabad and Tashkent “shared the same stance” on Afghanistan — namely, there should be constructive engagement with the current government in Kabul to avert a humanitarian crisis that could further severely affect the neighbouring countries. The Western media which copiously reports if Beijing sneezes, has blocked out Zhaparov’s announcement in Bishkek regarding the railway project. The official statement issued in Islamabad said the protocol “covers wide-ranging security-related matters of mutual interest and establishes coordination mechanism” between the two national security councils. The lines from English poet Shelley’s famous ode To a Skylark come to mind — ‘In the broad day-light / Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight…’
Two events in the past fortnight indicated growing optimism about Afghanistan’s future. The first test train crossed the border in August. During Makhmudov’s visit, Pakistan has done well to sign a protocol with Uzbekistan, which “will help strengthen coordination on security and regional connectivity between our two brotherly countries,” as NSA Moeed Yusuf wrote in a tweet. Abdulaziz Kamilov has been Uzbekistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2012 — and is probably the most experienced foreign minister anywhere in the world if his nine years in a previous stint from 1994 to 2003 is also taken into account. Thus, as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, China has longstanding plans to construct a railway from Xinjiang through Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan and onward to Turkmenistan (and Iran.) The main hitch has been that Beijing insisted that the new rail line should adopt tracks with 1,435 millimetres width, which China and most of the world use, while the Soviet-era Russian gauge of 1,520 millimetres is prevalent in Central Asia. In May this year, Pakistan’s first transport under the TIR system was sent to Uzbekistan via the land route. Iron ore will be the main product carried across the bridge, which has an annual designed cargo capacity of 21 million tons. Gen. Yusuf told the media after the signing ceremony that the two countries would expand cooperation against terrorism, transnational crimes, drug trafficking under the new security commission, assist each other on anti-narcotics force and disaster management capacity building, and also strengthen defence and military cooperation. Certainly, the three-day visit to Islamabad in early November by Uzbekistan’s National Security Advisor Lt. The full control to exercise national security powers vested with the institution of the National Security Council in Tashkent under the chairmanship of the president gives remarkable consistency to the country’s policies. The announcement, immediately after the visit of the Uzbek delegation to Islamabad, would suggest a nifty bit of sleight of hand on the part of Beijing working on the “big picture” of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. Trust Chinese ingenuity to find a technological solution by double-tracking with the narrower international gauge run inside the larger Russian one, which would also reduce costs of the project by eliminating the need to make transitions at the Chinese-Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistani-Iranian borders. Both developments signify that the scaffolding for improved regional connectivity, economic development, and governance is coming up, largely unreported. To be sure, there is an all-round realisation amongst the main protagonists — principally, amongst China, Uzbekistan and Pakistan –that regional connectivity and long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan are interlinked. Indeed, the US State Department was quick to realise this while announcing in July the US-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan-Pakistan Quad, “focused on enhancing regional connectivity” encouraging “long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.” The US initiative would have rung alarm bells in Moscow and Beijing. Thus was born the Uzbek-Pakistani home-grown approach to regional stability and economic growth. In fact, a 2.2 kilometre long Sino-Russian Tongjiang-Nizhneleninskoye railway bridge across the Amur River, the latest project completed under China’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative, has become a “technology demonstrator” using the new method of double tracking. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>New railway agreements reveal the contours of Central Asia’s rapid integration

By M.K. Uzbekistan is an advanced model of state formation in the post-Soviet space. And, importantly, the railway bridge has a dual track system, which allows trains running on both the Russian gauge and the Chinese gauge! An Afghan soldier guards the Soviet-built “Friendship Bridge” that links Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The rail link would have a multiplier effect on Russian capability to tap into Afghan reconstruction. The project, at an estimated cost of US$5 billion, will open Pakistani seaports on the Arabian Gulf to Uzbekistan. Enhanced outreach to Central Asia under its geoeconomic policy is a key objective for Pakistan. As Yusuf put it, “Uzbekistan due to its close proximity with Afghanistan is a very crucial element in attaining our geo-economic paradigm.” This is a statement of fact. The Chinese Communist Party has stated at the goal a rail link all the way to London. An ex-Soviet technocrat and a sports icon and playboy make improbable partners, but in reality, Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev and PrimeMinister Imran Khan have struck a warm friendship at personal level. With the commissioning of the bridge, the railway transportation distance from China’s Heilongjiang province to Moscow will be shortened by 809 kilometres, cutting 10 hours of transportation time. Not to be underestimated is the Uzbek-Kyrgyz agreement in March to resolve their 30-year border dispute at Tashkent’s initiative, which is a prerequisite for the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railroad. Uzbekistan has prioritised transport through Pakistan to the ports of Gwadar and Karachi over the Chabahar route to the world market. Bhadrakumar
Former Indian diplomat

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The information war is so intense nowadays that unsung melodies are often more alluring that the sung ones. Zhaparov said his government has reached an agreement with Tashkent on all outstanding issues regarding the railway project and expects to do the same with Beijing in the near term, possibly during a high-level visit to the Chinese capital. Uzbekistan is a great beneficiary here, being the principal gateway to Afghanistan and Pakistan (Gwadar and Karachi ports) and Pakistan becoming a pivotal state in regional politics. Beijing (and Moscow) will have noticed the desperate Anglo-American mission to stage a comeback in Afghanistan. Bishkek’s clearance for the Chinese railway project can phenomenally transform the cross-border connectivity in the Central Asian region and a host of regional states, including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Makhmudov is holding his position since 2013. China appreciates that Uzbekistan has a fairly developed internal railway network and has potential as a regional hub. The geopolitics of the region will never be the same again. ViKtor Makhmudov at the invitation of Pakistan’s NSA Moeed Yusuf deserved far more attention than it did.