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Leo is eating less meat to reduce his carbon footprint, but Micheál says he's 'walking a lot'

Micheal Martin says the government’s climate change policies are ‘a bit all over the place’.

The Fianna Fáil leader says they are looking at how he can reduce his carbon footprint.
The Fianna Fáil leader says they are looking at how he can reduce his carbon footprint.
Image: Sam Boal

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR caused controversy early this year when he said he was eating less meat in order to reduce his carbon footprint. 

What followed was a wave of criticism from the farming community and rural TDs, which resulted in him having to tell the Dáil that he was not going vegan any time soon.

But what about Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin? What is he doing to reduce his carbon footprint?

“Well I walk a lot. Well actually we are looking at various things. I mean in terms of my carbon footprint, you know, I think we have other things to do, but it’s not as high as it might be,” he told reporters. 

Varadkar has said that government ministers should “lead by example”, adding that the government owns a lot of vehicles and rolling out more hybrid and electric cars in the fleet should be looked at in the future.

However, Martin hit out at the government’s record on climate change, saying “we’ve had a lot of rhetoric, we’ve had the publication of ambitious plans, but when it comes to actually operational implementation, we do have to wonder that a country 30 years after the introduction of the smoky coal ban cannot finish the job”. 

For some reason the government “baulked because a number of letters came in the door from vested interests”, he said. 

“That is to me… gives the lie to the rhetoric that we’ve got from government in relation to climate change and that particular agenda.”

During the week, Martin said if he was in power he would have a separate department for higher education. But would he do the same for climate change?

In short, no.

“Climate change has to be interdepartmental. For example, it’s come to our attention – I’ve met with various groups – that we’ve had a disjointed approach so there are units in certain government departments that shouldn’t be there. You do need to reconfigure government to bring various dimensions together under the one roof,” he said. 

One thing Martin is happy about this week is the move by the Office of Public Works to implement a new pollinator plan for the Leinster House lawn and surrounding areas, which will include planting Irish wildflowers, using organic weedkiller, and installing bee boxes.

Martin had been calling for Ireland’s national parliament to do more to encourage biodiversity on site. He welcomed the announcement. 

“I got a letter from the Ceann Comhairle’s office saying that there will be, they’re saying it’s good timing anyway but they would say that anyway. But they’re taking up the initiative, it will be good, I am looking forward to that. 

“I think that’s something we all can do in our daily lives. But I think from a political point of view, I do get frustrated at the lack of real urgency around it. The smoky coal ban to me, surely to hell they could go off and do it.”

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