Alan Kelly praises ‘historic’ global climate deal

Minister for the Environment says he is proud of part he played in reaching agreement

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly: “The next generation would not forgive us if this deal was not done.”  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly: “The next generation would not forgive us if this deal was not done.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has said the Paris agreement on global climate change represented a “truly multilateral response to one of the largest challenges facing humanity”.

Mr Kelly, who attended the negotiations last week, said what had been agreed would now allow ambitious action, as well as providing for a transparency system that would allow countries to be assured other countries were living up to their pledges.

Referring to the recent flooding in Ireland, Mr Kelly said the agreement showed how important it was to build resilience to changing weather patterns.

“The deal is by no means perfect, but having a deal signed by so many countries will be historic. This was among the most important gatherings in world history. I am proud to have played my part as part of the EU team in making it possible,” he said.

“We are no longer debating whether climate change is real, we are trying to agree on how to tackle it. The next generation would not forgive us if this deal was not done.”

New consensus

Speaking from Paris, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said it signalled the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel era.

“We now have a new consensus, where every country agrees to ramp up actions to avoid dangerous climate change. This means leaving fossil fuels in the ground and switching to a more sustainable economic model. 

“We agree with those climate scientists who say it does not go far enough and we need a much stricter carbon budget. We also share the concern of those who say not enough is being done to help the poorest countries,” he said.  

Neither Fianna Fáil nor Sinn Féin issued statements in response to the agreement.

Political momentum

Trócaire’s head of policy, Dr Lorna Gold, praised as “highly significant” the world uniting in taking action on climate change for the first time, but

said it still left a lot to be desired. “This deal leaves us a long way from preventing the worst impacts of climate change for the most vulnerable, but does increase political momentum on the issue.”

Ibec, the representative group for Irish business, welcomed the agreement. Its head of infrastructure Neil Walker said: “The conference outcome is potentially favourable for Irish businesses, given that other regions such as the US are now more likely to approach the level of collective climate ambition to which the EU has already committed.”

Friends of the Earth was critical of the effective lengthening of the timeframe for decarbonisation until the second half of the century. Its Irish chairman, Dr Cara Augustenborg, said the agreement used vague language which referred to greenhouse gas neutrality by the end of the century.

An Taisce said the agreement provided a roadmap for tackling the worst extremes of global climate change.