Each one of us will increasingly be confronted with the same question in the coming years: what are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?

There will be a relentless focus on emissions, be they from driving a car or heating a home.

The question will equally apply to one’s place of work.

It’s all part of a new era of accountability; of determining whether actions are helping to counter global warming or fuelling the climate crisis.

Every householder, business, farmer, local authority, multinational company, State body and Government department will have to answer that question and demonstrate how they are shaping up and making their contribution to decarbonisation.

Rightly, the biggest generators of carbon – notably in sectors such as transport, agriculture, heating, buildings, aviation, power generation and shipping – will be subject to the biggest demands, and the highest penalties for failing to deliver set targets.

Lives will undoubtedly change dramatically as Ireland decarbonises. Getting out of fossil fuels will be the single most important shift.

And if the “nudge” approach, as advocated by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, does not work in big enough numbers, it will become increasing costly for those who persist with old polluting habits.

The Government plan sets demanding timelines for uptake of electric vehicles, retrofitting of homes, deployment of renewable energy, diversifying agriculture and reducing food waste.


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