‘There is no choice’: Taoiseach says cost of not responding to climate change too high

Cop26: State will sign global pledge to lower methane emissions by 30% but Martin says cuts will differ in countries

Britain’s foreign secretary Liz Truss and United Nations politician Patricia Espinosa with Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Glasgow. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/AFP via Getty

Ireland will more than double its funding for poorer countries to tackle climate change by 2025, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has promised.

The Taoiseach, who will address the UN Cop26 summit in Glasgow on Tuesday, said the Government’s annual commitment to climate finance would rise from €93 million to €225 million over the next four years.

The Government agreed in March to double the proportion of Overseas Development Aid (ODA) spent on climate finance by 2030 but Mr Martin said today’s announcement marks a stepping up of ambitions.

“The commitment in the programme for government is to more than double the current commitment to climate finance and our climate finance is of good quality as well,” he told reporters at the summit in Glasgow.


“We grant assist low-income countries and also small islands, the independent islands particularly around the Pacific. We have a strong relationship with those and we have targeted a lot of resources there.

“So we’ll grow it now up to a situation in 2025 we’ll be at €225 million. That’s a significant more than doubling, which exceeds the commitment in the Programme for Government. But we think it’s important.”

Mr Martin said the fact that 120 world leaders were in Glasgow was evidence of a growing momentum behind the need to deal with climate change in a radical and urgent way.

He said the Government’s climate action plan, which will be brought to Cabinet this week, would set firm targets for individual sectors along with carbon budgets.

‘Enormous disruption’

“I would make the point that economically it’s essential that we do this. Very often people talk about the cost of adjustments and the cost of the measures that we would have to introduce in respect to climate change,” he said.

“But just think of the enormous disruption that big weather events or events that are a consequence of climate would have on our economies in the future.

“So to those who are sceptical about the cost of this and the cost of doing all of this, what I would say is there is no choice. That does mean greater investment in public transport, it does mean carbon taxation.

“The international research is strong on carbon taxation, that it achieves two things. Over time it disincentivises the use of fossil fuels but it also gives very valuable resources to the government to invest in retrofitting, for example, to invest in more environmentally friendly farming.”

Mr Martin said Ireland will sign up to a global pledge to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, but he stressed that the 30 per cent target was a global one and did not imply that each country would cut emissions of the gas by the same proportion.

“It is a global pledge we are signing up to. The specific manifestation of that in each country may differ because different countries have different challenges in that respect or produce methane at different levels in different sectors. So our climate action plan will give specifics in terms of our methane reduction strategies as well as reducing emissions across the board,” he said.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times