Taoiseach praises Irish role in tackling climate change

Kenny warns the ‘clock is ticking’ and there is ‘no time to waste’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny praised Ireland as a world leader in the fight against climate change, telling the United Nations in NewYork that the ‘clock is ticking’ and there is “no time to waste” on the issue. File Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Taoiseach Enda Kenny praised Ireland as a world leader in the fight against climate change, telling the United Nations in NewYork that the ‘clock is ticking’ and there is “no time to waste” on the issue. File Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has praised Ireland as a world leader in the fight against climate change, telling the United Nations in New York the “clock is ticking” and there is “no time to waste” on the issue.

Mr Kenny joined world leaders - including US president Barack Obama, French president Francois Hollande and British prime minister David Cameron at the one-day meeting hosted by the UN.

“Global warming is a stark reality that can only be dealt with by a collective global reponse,” the Taoiseach said in his short address.

Ireland had a “strong and proud record” on tackling climate change, he said, implementing a range of carbon-pricing instruments, including a carbon tax, and has long-term objectives to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent across electricity, transport and the environment.

“We are working within the EU to ensure a fair and effective burden-sharing of the EU’s overall commitment and we are implementing legislation to underpin our climate change efforts,” the Taoiseach said.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr Kenny said the New York summit would be a precursor to another meeting in Paris. He said he hoped the Paris conference would not repeat the mistakes that dogged the Copenhagen summit in 2009.

“Copenhagen wasn’t the success that people might have imagined it should be simply because agreement couldn’t be had from all of the leading nations,” Mr Kenny said. “What’s going on here today as part of the process is that countries are invited to set out their own particular individual national agendas and Ireland has a very good track record on this.”

Mr Kenny said Ireland intended to continue to be a world leader in reducing carbon emissions and that it had exceeded the targets under the 1997 Kyoto agreement, contributing more than €100 million. “So Ireland is in good shape and we want to contribute as part of the European debate here in arriving at targets that are fair, that are ambitious, that are sustainable,” he said.

Friends of the Earth’s Oisín Coghlan said that while the Taoiseach’s speech was “carefully crafted to sound the right notes”, it was short on substance. “I’m not convinced the Taoiseach really believes that he needs to lead a transformation of Irish society and the economy on order to contain climate change.”

Hollywood actor Leonard DiCaprio told the UN summit that climate change was “not hysteria - it’s a fact.”

“The time to answer the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet is now,” he said in an address to the UN general assembly. “You can make history or be vilified by it.”

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said that leaders were “not here to talk but to make history”.

About 400,000 people marched in Manhattan to campaign for the fight against climate change on the eve of the summit, where Chinese president Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are among the notable absentees.