Ahern pledges action on climate change

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern today insisted it was no longer morally acceptable to ignore climate change.

In a speech to the Institute of European Affairs in Dublin, Mr Ahern conceded stark evidence about the catastrophic effect of man-made pollution on the world could no longer be disputed.

Exhaust fumes from a car Photograph: Alan Betson.
Exhaust fumes from a car Photograph: Alan Betson.

"It is clear that the single greatest, economic, environmental, geopolitical issue now facing us is climate change," Mr Ahern said. "Its existence is beyond serious doubt. The evidence is extremely clear. That debate is over.

"It is a force against which there is no hard power, no military solution. It demands unprecedented global unity of purpose. Our actions now will shape the welfare of mankind for centuries ahead."

The Minister said Ireland will back EU pressure for an international agreement to cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent at the Spring European Council next month.

In the absence of agreement between developed countries, the Government will support a unilateral 20 per cent cut throughout Europe, he said. It will also demand a fifth of all energy come from renewable sources, at least 10 per cent from biofuels and a 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.

Mr Ahern was speaking less than a week after it was revealed Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions had surged by almost double of what was agreed under the legally binding Kyoto Protocol.

There a lot of practical things the Government can do; like doubling investment in public transport, allowing more wind energy onto the grid and improving planning regulations.
The Green Party's environment spokesman Ciarán Cuffe

The Green Party cautiously welcomed the remarks but were sceptical of the Government's commitment to seriously tackle the issue.

The Green Party's environment spokesman Ciarán Cuffe insisted the looming crisis demanded action on a domestic level as well as globally.

"That is simply not happening at the moment," he said. "There a lot of practical things the Government can do; like doubling investment in public transport, allowing more wind energy onto the grid and improving planning regulations.

"These are things that can be done within months if the political will was there."

Mr Cuffe called on the Cabinet to take the lead by reducing their carbon footprint, with such simple measures as changing to more environmentally sound cars.

PA