Ireland needs climate change plan every town and city can get behind – Robinson

John Fitzgerald says Government has ‘dawdled’ in number of areas in action plan

Former president of Ireland Mary Robinson. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Former president of Ireland Mary Robinson. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Former president Mary Robinson has said it would be feasible to limit temperature rises, but it would depend on political will.

“This is our moment,” she said.

The impacts of climate warming were being seen in the drastic weather events in the northern atmosphere, she told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland. It would still be possible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, if drastic action was taken now.

Mrs Robinson, who served as a UN special envoy on climate change, said governments must step up and make the necessary decisions. Solutions had never been cheaper or more accessible, she said.

“It may sound strange, but coming out of Covid and knowing that we’ve used up a lot of money to protect lives and jobs and livelihoods means we should be prepared to spend to get to that clean energy future.

“I think it’s worth it, because it’s our children’s future and we need to see it as a future that would be much better for health, and much more equal, because the developing world will also have to be part of having access to electricity, which many parts of the world don’t have at the moment.”

Ireland had gone from being a “laggard” to having good climate legislation, she said, however, the country now needed an actual plan that every town and city could get behind. There was no reason why Ireland could not be a leader of wind energy, while forestry needed to improve.

On the same programme, economist John Fitzgerald, who is a member and former chairperson of the Climate Advisory Council (CAC), said that the Government had “dawdled” in a number of areas of its action plan to tackle climate change.

The Government had delayed in dealing with the licensing regime for forestry which meant that it was now “completely clogged up” and bureaucratic. This needed to be sorted out quickly because forestry was “sucking carbon” out of the atmosphere and would be a major part of the solution in Ireland, he said.

Retrofitting houses would be a difficult challenge because it would be a costly project for households and would need a wide range of taxation, grants, subsidies and regulations.

The Government needed to be honest with the people of Ireland and telling people that it was all going to come for free would be a “recipe for disaster.”

Taxes would have to rise, which would not be pleasant, he warned, but climate change was even worse. Professor Fitzgerald, emphasised that he was speaking in a personal capacity.