Climate action on fuels needed, says Mary Robinson

Former president says planet on track to be 4 degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels

Mary Robinson: “The latest science makes it clear that the world needs to reach zero carbon emissions globally by 2050 to maximise chances of staying below 2 degrees and to make 1.5 degrees feasible.” Photograph: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Mary Robinson: “The latest science makes it clear that the world needs to reach zero carbon emissions globally by 2050 to maximise chances of staying below 2 degrees and to make 1.5 degrees feasible.” Photograph: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

 

Two-thirds of known fossil-fuel reserves must be left in the ground if global warming is to be kept at less that 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, United Nations special envoy for climate change Mary Robinson has said.

“The latest science makes it clear that the world needs to reach zero carbon emissions globally by 2050 to maximise chances of staying below 2 degrees and to make 1.5 degrees feasible,” she said.

“To do this, two-thirds of the known fossil-fuel reserves must be left in the ground and alternative sources of clean energy found.”

The former president was speaking yesterday at a climate change conference in NUI Maynooth, organised by the Catholic bishops’ agency Trócaire, St Patrick’s College Maynooth, and the university.

Defence line

“Science tells us we are far off track to meet even the goal to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. We are on track to a 4 degree warmer world compared to pre-industrial levels,” she said.

Developing countries would have to grow “using a different model to that which made the industrial countries wealthy” that can be achieved only if they “are supported with the necessary climate finance, investment and transfer of technology to make this transition,” she said.

Moral imperative

The climate challenge demanded “global co-operation on an unprecedented scale – a whole new era of solidarity based on an understanding of our interconnectedness,” she said, adding that it “confronts us with the reality of our interdependence”.

Mrs Robinson recalled how in his encyclical Laudato Si’ Pope Francis said : “We have to realise that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” She said it was a call for climate justice “from one of the most influential moral voices on our planet today”.

She said the pope had established “climate change and safeguarding the Earth for humanity as a fundamental moral issue of our time”.