Governments urged to respond to IPCC report’s ‘stark’ findings

Mary Robinson and campaigners call for more ambitious action on climate change

The latest UN scientific report provided "further irrefutable evidence that climate change challenges our very existence", said Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly. "As a nation, we must do everything in our power to curb our emissions."

He added that the challenge posed by global warming “is well understood by this Government” and was reflected in the outline of its Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill, and by the national policy statement underpinning it, both published last April.

But Oxfam Ireland's David Healy said the Government should bring forward the Bill "immediately", so that Ireland could begin to make the transition to a "low-carbon, fossil-fuel-free economy" ahead of next month's UN climate summit in Lima, Peru.

Unequivocal findings

Oisín Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth Ireland, said the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was unequivocal in finding that humans “are causing climate change with the same level of certainty that we know smoking causes cancer”.


He added: “If we are going to avoid irreversible changes to the climate, we need to leave the vast majority of our fossil fuel reserves in the ground and switch our investments to the clean solutions that are becoming more available and cheaper now.”

Trócaire executive director Éamonn Meehan said the report’s findings were “stark”, as was its warning that the current level of political action “is not enough to stop a future marked by species extinction, hunger, flooding, drought and increased poverty”. He complained that the EU’s recently adopted climate action and energy package for 2030 was “unambitious” and fell far short of what scientists say is needed. “How many more expert reports do we need before the political system listens?”

May Boeve, executive director of the campaigning group, said it was now the politicians' turn. "World leaders have everything they need to act: clear scientific evidence, a strong economic case, and huge public support. The only thing they lack is the will."

Science clear

Former president

Mary Robinson

said the science was clear: “We cannot say we do not know the facts.

“Transformative leadership from all levels of community, business and politics can drive world leaders to commit to brave and ambitious actions.”

Greenpeace climate chief Martin Kaiser said governments need to "phase out coal and oil now or end up doing it later at a much higher cost. However, those who seize the potential of renewable energy will leap ahead to a sustainable future."

Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said more political leaders were “waking up to the costs of dealing with runaway climate change” and now needed to work together to reach an “ambitious and equitable climate agreement in Paris”.

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald

Frank McDonald, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former environment editor