In the frame for Lisbon

Am usually happiest to operate from the safety and relative anonymity of this side of the keyboards, but decided to face the music, so to speak, and contribute to a press briefing held in the dramatic setting of the upper deck of Trinity Point, a brand new low-energy building opposite TCD in Nassau Street.


An odd experience, all told, for someone quite used to being on the other side of the microphones. A planned doubling of the plastic bag tax (from 22-44 cent) seemed to be uppermost on the minds of the substantial turnout of journalists for the event. Minister Gormley described Lisbon as a “no brainer” for anyone serious about climate change, a point picked up on by Duncan Stewart, who stressed the extraordinary urgency of this issue.

Would I do it again? As Voltaire famously mused, on being invited back after attending his first orgy: “Once a philosopher; twice a pervert.”

ThinkOrSwim is a blog by journalist John Gibbons focusing on the inter-related crises involving climate change, sustainability, resource depletion, energy and biodiversity loss
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3 Responses to In the frame for Lisbon

  1. David McHugh says:


    I’ve just read through your two blog posts advocating a YES vote on Lisbon, on environmental grounds, and I’m finding myself wondering “what’s the connection”? Look, I whole heartedly agree with you that the EU has been a powerful force for good in relation to environmental issues in general and climate change in particular. Just consider the global leadership provided by the EU in relation to the implementation of the Kyoto protocol. But it must be borne in mind that this was achieved in a pre-Lisbon world.

    I’ll be honest with you, I find it a bit disingenuous when Lisbon advocates hold up climate change as a basis for ratifying the treaty, without offering any substantiation. You’re not alone in this regard; I was listening to Simon Coveney making similar assertions at a public meeting in Cork a few weeks back. And like yourself, he failed to mention exactly what environmental benefit Lisbon would deliver. The closest he came to this was to assert that a permanent president of the Commission would aid the battle against climate change, but never stated how, nor acknowledged the leadership provided by the EU under the existing regime of a rotating presidency.

    So, exactly how will the changes contained in the Lisbon treaty assist the EU’s battle against climate change? Are there any specific clauses of the treaty do you think will assist the EU’s battle against climate change? Is there any conceivable way that a yes vote in Ireland would deliver a better outcome at Copenhagen?

    It is certainly worthy of attention, if not directly influential, when a noted public commentator advocates a particular position on something as important as a constitutional referendum. But let’s bear in mind why you are a columnist in the paper of record: you write coherent, incisive articles on environmental issues. Now, if you are going to engage in political discourse, be advised that you readership will be expecting a similar level of analysis!


  2. John Gibbons says:


    In general, I confess to being very pro-Europe, probably goes back to the first time I went to France as a 15-going-on-16 year old, and was totally blown away by the culture, the food, the pace of life and the open-mindedness, none of which were much in evidence in the Ireland of the late 1970s.

    Water, habitats, birds directives, and many more besides – all flow from Europe, pre-Lisbon yes, but the EU as a 27-member state desperately needs to streamline the way it works (and yes, that includes qualified majorities to get rid of the absurd position that any one state, no matter how small, can kibosh the EU from any action – that’s not democracy, it’s lunacy).

    Energy and climate change get a major boost under Lisbon. Specifically, the EU acquires energy competence under Title XXI of the Treaty. We are probably the most import-dependent of EU states on energy, quite what we stand to gain from buggering up the EU developing a coherent energy strategy (including reductions in energy consumption and intensiveness) is beyond me.

    North Dakota could, I suppose, secede from the federal US, but then what? Just look at the jokers who claim to be “pro-Europe”, the Shinners, Ganley and his gang, yet each and every thing they do is profoundly anti-Europe.

    Climate change and energy conservation: Lisbon places these firmly up the EU agenda far beyond their current status. And as I’ve said in print, without the EU bashing ahead when it was neither popular nor profitable, we wouldn’t now be within an asses roar of Copenhagen (and yes, the Americans may yet fall short, but that only emphasises my point).

    I confess David to sticking my neck out on this “political” issue, but it’s down to this: a crippled EU, riven by divisions and with the Czechs and soon the UK Tories threatening to further unravel its ability to act with a single voice, will be unable to lead on climate, and then we’re all stuffed. QED!

  3. David McHugh says:

    Well John, that sounds much more convincing! I’ll have to check out the references & give some thought to your insights.

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