Climate crisis and political accountability

Years of complacency and inaction

Sir, – Your report “Earth has been pushed past its safe limits for humans, scientists say” (News, May 31st) makes for alarming reading, particularly as it confirms what most scientists have been telling us for years. Yet the coverage of this, and similar reports, is treated by most media as if it were a niche story of interest to a small subset of the population rather than a stark warning about vast problems that we’re creating right now for our children and grandchildren.

Ironically enough, there is far more news coverage being given to the reversal of the fuel excise duty cuts, or the return of flights between Dublin and Cork.

This idea that climate change and biodiversity loss are of limited interest is by no means confined to the media – many of our politicians operate under the same presumption and will happily treat action in these areas as if it were an optional “bargaining chip” between competing interests. In his recent interview with The Irish Times (News, May 27th), the Taoiseach clearly articulated the view that emissions reduction measures are “for” Green voters. Meanwhile, MEPs from the State’s three biggest parties seem likely to reinforce Ireland’s poor record on biodiversity by failing to support the EU nature restoration law.

Of course, most people have plenty of other things to worry about day to day, and there is a lot of work required to improve housing and health services. Politicians would say that their actions and voting records reflect these priorities, which is reasonable up to a point. But what is needed right now is an ability to handle multiple things at once, to see the big picture, and to articulate the challenges to the rest of us. This is made much more difficult when those same politicians exist in (and contribute to) a media landscape where climate action is treated as a “minority sport” that’s largely disconnected from the economy and politics in general.


As the financial crash showed clearly, there’s only so long that politicians can ignore warnings in favour of electorally tempting short-term incentives.

But unless high-emitting countries like ours change drastically, the resulting human, economic and political stresses will make 2008 seem very far away indeed. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – The EPA report revealing that Ireland will likely miss its legally binding 51 per cent emissions reduction target for 2030, reaching only 29 per cent, is deeply concerning (News, June 2nd).

In the face of such an immense failure, the question emerges: who will be held accountable?

We urgently need robust mechanisms to hold those responsible to account for these missed targets. Otherwise we risk more years of complacency and inaction. – Yours, etc,


North Strand,

Dublin 1.