We need a new Whitaker Plan

July 6, 2007 at 10:03 am | Posted in Statements | Leave a comment

The time has come for a major renewal of our society and economy towards sustainability. In effect, we need a new Whitaker Plan to guide us towards achieving new social, economic and environmental objectives. I believe that there would be great excitement and potential in engaging on a national project like this. But to begin this task what we now need are vision and leadership. 

The reason that we need such a new direction is clear. The age of fossil fuels is coming to an end. This is for at least three reasons. Because of peak oil fossil fuels will become uneconomic. Second, dependence on fossil fuels is becoming a political liability in an unstable world. Finally, our use of fossil fuels is triggering a climate change sequence as yet with unknown consequences.  What all of this means is that ‘business as usual’ is not an option.  

The irony is that a move towards sustainability offers the only viable way to trigger long-term economic growth in this country and greatly improve the quality of our social lives and community. We should commit to a net zero-carbon status within the next twenty to thirty years. To achieve this we will need carbon quotas for each citizen and business, carbon taxes and significant incentives for research and development. We need a serious energy conservation programme. We need a major renewal of our agricultural sector so that can produce more high-quality foods for local sale and crops that can be used for energy and construction purposes. 

The potential is there to make Ireland a world-leader in developing new, sustainable economic and social models. We had the courage and vision in the 1950s to think our way to new solutions. We need the same qualities of leadership today. 

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