‘Wishing the crisis away’ no longer an option, says Archbishop of Dublin

Dermot Farrell: issue will not be solved by sound bites, short-term actions, or ‘easy’ solutions

Approaches of “paralysis” and “wishing the crisis away” are no longer an options for dealing with the threat of climate change, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin has said.

In a message marking the Cop26 UN climate summit, under way in Glasgow, Dermot Farrell cautioned global leaders against adapting responses to the issue crisis that "leave much to be desired".

He referred in particular to an “ethos of threat and fear that appears to emanate from certain strands of commentary” on the subject that, he said, was “less than helpful”.

Such “one-sided, ideological responses fail to empower people for such change,” he said, adding the best approach was “to encourage all to find a positive way forward in this crisis”.

Climate change, the archbishop said, was"a long-term and cross-generational crisis" and one that, as yet, "most people have not taken the enormity of its challenges on board".

It was “the defining issue of this generation, and will not be solved by sound bites, short-term actions, or ‘easy’ solutions”.

“There is no magic bullet. Although scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades, there is still a long way to go to address it,” the archbishop said.

“Paralysis and wishing the crisis away is no longer an option. For our sakes, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of everyone and everything – all the creatures of this Earth – let us resolve to make one change, no matter how little,” he said.

Ireland's Catholic bishops are being represented at Cop26 by Bishop of Kilmore Martin Hayes, a member of their Council for Justice and Peace.

“As people of faith we are called to be custodians of God’s creation,” he said, adding action was needed “to lift up the voices of the most vulnerable in our world – the poor – who are on the frontline of the effects of climate change”.

At Cop26, it was Bishop Hayes’s intention to “advocate for policies relating to climate justice, to attend civil society events, interfaith gatherings and prayer vigils which will take place around this conference”.

Trócaire, the Irish Catholic bishops' development agency, said Ireland "must step up its commitments to pay its fair share of the devastating costs of climate change".

It noted although Ireland’s recently published Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill set out a target of reducing emissions by 51 per cent by 2030 “we remain the second highest emitters per capita in the EU.”

It was “unacceptable that the gap between Ireland and our neighbours is widening at a time when we need to be catching up as fast as possible,” Trócaire said in a policy document issued to coincide with Cop26.

“By comparison to Ireland the EU has set a target of reducing emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030.”

Ciara Murphy and Martina Madden, from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice in Dublin, are also attending Cop26, where they will collaborate with other faith groups and organisations such as Jesuit Missions UK, Ecojesuit and Stop Climate Chaos. They hope Cop26 will "mark a turning point for climate action".