Week 8

3 Apr

During this week’s lectures we discussed European Law and how the mention of the environment has changed throughout the years. In the first treaty there was no mention of the environment, nowadays every treaty must have regard for impact on the environment. This to me represents a great change. If a country breaks any of these laws, a member state may end up in front of the European Court of Justice. Ireland has had many cases brought in front of it and this certainly highlights the need for a better strategy for implementing environmental sustainability.

Although, it’s easy to say we should just implement some of these European laws more strictly. The Irish Government are now implementing a law that will see no more turf cutting in Ireland anymore. They will certainly meet a lot of resistance from many rural people in the Irish midlands. Some of these people depend completely on the turf they cut; they have no central heating and don’t want to leave the oil on as it will be very expensive.

The septic tank charge is another controversial topic at the moment. Because of Ireland’s sparsely populated countryside, many one of septic tanks have been established. These septic tanks were not built to the standard as they should have been and leakage has occurred, polluting the land and sometimes polluting water. Polluted water is another big problem in Ireland as well. A few years ago, water restrictions were in place in many parts of the country. It’s hard to believe that a country like Ireland could have water shortages, but it’s simply down to poor decision making and lack of infrastructure.

For Ireland to reach its target emissions reduction, set out in the Kyoto protocol which we discussed earlier in the year, we may have to reduce the livestock numbers which will have a detrimental effect on the Irish economy. At the moment, Ireland’s economy is depending heavily on exports and many of these exports are in the form of beef and dairy produce. There is sure to be a protest or two also.

All of these problems above are recommendations from The EU to reduce environmental impact. I think it’s a good idea that Europe forces its member countries to become more sustainable as I don’t think Ireland would implement any of these environmental laws if we weren’t part of the EU. However, are the EU having too much of a say in how we run this country? They now input their opinions for the budget and these opinions are enforced as well. Are we really a democratic country now that is we’re run by the people we vote into power, or are we ‘under the thumb of France and Germany’?

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