Phil Hogan, the Environment Minister, has branded the Sunday Independent and another newspaper as “knackers” and threatened to “put manners” on them for publishing pictures of himself and his now former press secretary in Doha on Budget day.
Last Thursday, Mr Hogan accused the Indo of engaging in a “disgraceful game” and threatened: “We will put manners on you.” Mr Hogan was reacting to coverage of himself in recent months.
Rich considering The cheapest room in the hotel is 605 euro which is an outrage when he is standing over cuts to the blind and disabled.
The 10-strong Irish party that attended included Hogan’s press secretary, Yvonne Hyland, the woman pictured with him on the front page.
His little finger is definitely on the rump area.- Oh Dear Maybe they’re really good friends?
Well he is doing no worse that Bertie, Biffo and co.
But I recall Mr Hogan was a very strong opponent of cronyism when Fianna Fail were in power.
Amazing they way people change their mind when they get power,
Hogan could cross over to FF and they would be at home in there lot
Yvonne Hyland was a former P.R person for F.G before she became press secretary to big mouth Hogan. Was she hired because of he skills and suitability for the job or was she hired for other reasons? I bet her interview was a real tough one. A lady on 83k a year whose job was to insure no bad PR and no unwanted photos!!! A lady of amazing abality
Money well spent. I doubt it
The woman that big Phil was pictured cosying up to in Qatar has since left her position.
What happened there…. they seemed to be getting on quite well.
A giant tanker ship carrying 150,000 cubic metres of gas left Norway earlier this month for Japan. The vessel, Ob River, is taking a short cut that will trim several thousand kilometres off the trip. Its historic voyage would, just a decade ago would have been inconceivable even in high summer. The Ob River is travelling through the remnants of the once-frozen Arctic ocean – in the depths of winter.
While 17,000 politicians, NGOs and policymakers gather this week in Doha for the 18th annual talking shop of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), back in the real world, temperatures are rising, ice is melting relentlessly and the planet is quickly slipping into a new, chaotic climatic era that scientific studies have been warning about for decades.
Three separate major reports this month, from the World Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the European Environment Agency all point to the same stark conclusion: the climate crisis is rapidly turning into an planetary emergency that is fast moving beyond humanity’s ability to contain, let alone reverse, it.
“This isn’t about shock tactics, it’s simple maths”, according to Leo Johnson of PwC. “One thing is clear: businesses, governments and communities across the world need to plan for a (dangerously) warming world – not just 2C, but 4C, and, at our current rates, 6C.”
Even at 2C over pre-industrial levels, the world is likely to have stepped into the abyss of irreversible climate disruption. As that approaches 4-6C, “we are passing through the gates of hell” in the words of one senior scientist. The World Bank Report warned that India would lose half its grain crops and Africa a third of its arable land at just 2C global average temperature increase.
Drought and famines will quickly spread into what are today some of the world’s most important food-producing regions – northern China, the US mid-west, much of the Middle East, as well as India and Pakistan are all facing collapse in water supplies within 10-20 years.
PwC calculates that, to have a 50:50 chance of avoiding the 2C climate ‘red line’, annual carbon emissions reductions of 5.1 per cent will have to be achieved, year on year from now until 2050. In reality, emissions are heading in the opposite direction, currently growing at over 2.5 per cent annually. Not since World War Two have global emissions ever actually declined by this level, and even then, it was for five, not 40 years.
“The new data provides further evidence that the door to a 2C trajectory is about to close”, Fatih Birol, chief economist with the International Energy agency said recently. John Steinbruner, lead author of a study for the US Central Intelligence Agency commented: “climate extremes are going to be more frequent…we’re also saying it could get a whole lot worse”.
The US military, not renowned for environmental alarmism, is now bracing for the collapse of multiple states, as floods, famine and disease triggers involuntary mass migration across international borders, on a scale that will rapidly overwhelm any capacity to respond. Ironically, publication of this CIA study was delayed by 10 days as Hurricane Sandy shut down the US Federal government last month.
“We’re on track for a 4C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise,” according to the World Bank report entitled ‘Turn Down the Heat’. A 4C rise this century is “a doomsday scenario”, World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim acknowledged glumly.
The UN conference in Doha comes just weeks after the expiry of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which has had only marginal impact in curbing global emissions. There is nothing on the table at Doha that will have any material impact on staving off calamity. The host country, Qatar, is the perfect metaphor for the paradox of progress, as it depends for its wealth on vast reserves of climate-destroying fossil fuels. Scientists estimate that 80 per cent of all known fossil fuel reserves (worth some $20 trillion) must remain in the ground if disaster is to be averted.
We now have no choice but to forego the easy wealth that comes from burning this vast carbon store and instead switch on a massive scale to low-carbon sources, such as renewables and nuclear power, as well as drastic improvements in energy efficiency. Like it or not, this also means the effective winding down of consumption-based capitalism and big drops in living standards.
Once we finally grasp that the consequences of ‘business as usual’ are unimaginably grim, political and economic changes that today seem unthinkable may soon be inevitable. The global slave trade went, in a matter of years, from an indispensable pillar of the world economy to being morally repulsive. To have a future, humanity’s relationships with fossil energy may very soon have to undergo a similar transformation.
John Gibbons is an environmental writer and commentator.
He is on Twitter: @think_or_swim
In Doha, another round of climate talks comes to a close with promises to come back next time and continue arguing the same old points again and do as much as is required to fobb off the electorate in the interim.
Essentially the third world countries got a bollocking for cutting down their trees and not hugging tigers, the capitalist western rich climate destroying nations got moaned at for paying lip service to the whole thing.
The Americans don’t want to pay for climate change because ‘they didn’t mean it’ all they wanted do do was make harmless trillions by filling the air with chemicals for which they take no responsibility whatsoever.
Who knew right?
Everyone did, including the Americans!
There then followed much niggling about the ‘exact wording’ of this and that, some clapping, patting of backs and then a chorus of ‘Thanks F*ck that’s over for another year’ by all concerned.
They then jumped into their bird killing jets, ate a dinner that cost more money than a Somalian Village earns in a year, typed texts and emails on a variety of far-from-carbon-neutral mobile devices and then went home to prepare for another extravagant Christmas.
Dr Kelly Michaels from Sevenoaks University has calculated that the annual cost of Hypocrisy is roughly equivalent to that of the Italian national debt (a sum so large that it requires a specially designed wide-screen cash-point to display).
Calls for an anti-hypocrisy summit have thus far fallen on deaf ears as most governments would have little to say at such an event without contravening its underlying principle.
Meanwhile, polar bears are eating their cubs, more bad things ‘the size of Belgium’ are happening each years, four orangutans die to make one packet of jammy dodgers and China has started paying for fish with giant pandas because they’re too bloody expensive to look after and it gives them an air of environmental benevolence.
God, as usual, is keeping very tight lipped over the whole affair.
Desert mission’s costs could have reversed cut in respite care grants for 92 families
The bill is enough to reverse a €325 cut to the €1,700 respite care grant – introduced by last week’s Budget while Mr Hogan was in Qatar – for 92 families.
Mr Hogan and his ministerial entourage of nine spent a week at the UN talks toiling at back-to-back round table sessions, bilateral meetings and political briefing.
But the lasting image of the jaunt will be the Irish Daily Mail‘s pictures of the minister relaxing over drinks in his five-star hotel bar with his press adviser Yvonne Hyland, a former Fine Gael press officer.
The photographs were published on Budget Day, hours before the public was to discover the extent of the tax increases emanating from his department on cars and homes. They were reportedly taken at the end of a long day of back-to-back meetings.
Meanwhile, the burdened citizens back home who are paying for Mr Hogan’s trip were counting the cost of his latest austerity measures.
For a Government bent on selling a message of austerity, the timing was poor. The department said the costs of the trip came to €5,000 for flights and €16,000 for hotel accommodation. On top of the cost of flights and accommodation, the group of 10 would be entitled to claim foreign subsistence rates intended to cover any food, drinks and other costs incurred by Mr Hogan and his civil servants while abroad.
Daily subsistence of about €100 over seven days adds €7,000 to the bill, bringing the final cost closer to €30,000.
Although the sum is relatively modest in the scheme of Ireland’s debt problems, €30,000 is enough to reverse the €325 cut to the €1,700 respite care grant for 92 families or to extend the newly-cut €1,375 grant to an additional 21 families.
The department said it had “no response” to the publication of photographs last week showing Mr Hogan and Ms Hyland relaxing over a drink.
One of the few TDs to query Mr Hogan’s absence
ANALYSIS PAGE 28
from the Dail on Budget week was Sinn Fein’s Aengus O Snodaigh.
Mr Hogan and his ministerial entourage were in Doha to bone up on international environmental issues in advance of Ireland’s assuming the EU Presidency next month.
He was accompanied by his private secretary, Eddie Kiernan, Ms Hyland, and John McCarthy, the assistant secretary at the department’s environment division. Six other officials were also in the group but his department did not name them. Some of the party travelled in advance, no doubt to get in early to prepare the ground. They flew economy on flights from Dublin to Doha via Abu Dhabi – at a cost of around €500 each.
“The numbers attending (Mr Hogan and nine officials) on the department’s part are being kept to the minimum necessary to allow us to be able to cover multiple parallel tracks of meetings and to prepare us for the Presidency role that we will have to discharge from January to June, including leading for the EU at an inter-sessional meeting in Bonn,with the possibility of a second inter-sessional also being mooted,” a Department spokesman explained.
Mr Hogan and his officials stayed at the Kempinksi Hotel in Doha, which offers a range of luxury suites and “sky villas” with “Arabian sun peaking through the floor-to-ceiling windows.”
But far from living it up in solo luxury, the department staff doubled up to save money. A spokesman said they shared “what are, in effect, two-bedroom apartments”.
Mr Hogan, meanwhile, had what the department called his own “one-bedroom unit” but which was reportedly one of the suites touted by Kempinski on its website, on the 49th floor, complete with four bathrooms, a kitchen and panoramic sea views.
“In both cases the accommodation is the cheapest of three available categories of accommodation in the hotel,” the spokesman said, coming in at a relatively modest €149 a night
Although Qatar governs itself according to strict Sharia law, luxury hotels are allowed to sell alcohol to non-Muslims.
The department claimed the delegation was among the smaller groups attending the international conference. Almost 200 nations attended the climate change talks which were aimed at negotiating a new international treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2015. Mr Hogan will be the minister leading the EU’s work on climate change when Ireland takes over the EU presidency in January.
And it was necessary to send nine officials to various parallel meetings going on at any one time.
During the seven days, Mr Hogan gave one three-minute address to a UN plenary session in which he spoke about the need for urgent action on climate change.
He also promised delegates “an ambitious environmental agenda” when Ireland takes over the Presidency of the European Council in January.
According to a schedule released by his department, he spent much of the week attending daily co-ordination meetings with 27 EU ministers; bi-lateral talks with EU ministers and the UN; ministerial round-table talks; and multiple “bilateral talks” with small island states, with Russia and with “least developed countries” and with non-government agencies.
He also attended a ministerial breakfast hosted by Mary Robinson