Climate crisis – ‘a code red for humanity’

Sir, – While the headlong rush to tackle climate change through policies is laudable, how can changes made by a small country like Ireland make an impact when it requires significant change by the large offenders – China, the US and the like? We may become very carbon efficient but it will be a “pimple on the elephant” if the big countries don’t act. We need a global covenant where action from the big polluters then produces action from the smaller countries. We shouldn’t force the Irish people to spend huge amounts on this when our action will not affect the global outcome if the “big guys” don’t lead! – Yours, etc,



Co Wexford.


Sir, – Are there are too many of us consuming too many things! – Yours, etc,



Co Leitrim.

Sir, – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report outlines unequivocally the evidence that human activity in the form of fossil fuel-driven consumption is destroying the ability of the planet to support life in its current diverse form. Politicians have known about this for decades, but with a political system in the pocket of vested interests, such as Wall Street and unaccountable oligarchs, nothing has been done. The drive to maintain a status quo which uses the metric of GDP as a measure of wellbeing has created a global economy of needless consumption which is leading us off a cliff.

A radical change is needed to move away from the current economic ideology to a sustainable model. This is a huge political challenge which requires that governments take back control of economic policy and redefine it as one that serves the community, with significant social and environmental dividends. This is a global emergency which left unchecked will manifest itself very quickly into a global security issue.

The UN Security Council needs to step in to initiate efforts toward global solidarity in overcoming political and ideological barriers to success.

Ireland has an opportunity, with its considerable diplomatic experience, to drive these discussions. The time for prevarication is gone; the time for action is now. – Yours, etc,


Blackrock, Cork.

Sir, – The link between emissions and animal farming has never been clearer and more stark – 76 billion farmed animals raised and slaughtered every year, and the numbers are rising. The link must be broken. Factory farming must end if we are to avert the catastrophe that is coming down the tracks with accelerating speed. We can start here in Ireland, by radically reducing the national herd and by phasing out as quickly as possible the highly polluting intensive pig and broiler chicken industries. – Yours, etc,



Co Roscommon.

Sir, – In view of the most recent IPCC assessment of the state of climate change, the theme for the upcoming COP 26 (2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference) can be summed up in just a few words – it’s time to finally cop on. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – The IPCC report on climate change should be an impetus for an end to populist posturing against necessary environmental measures that need to be taken in Ireland and so it is time for various Opposition figures to finally drop opposition to carbon tax. Until they do, they have zero credibility to critically comment on Irish transitional efforts to become a carbon-neutral economy, while in the meantime the Government responsibly attempts to implement the Climate Action Plan and the measures of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill. – Yours, etc,


(Fine Gael),

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

County Council Offices,

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Sir, – With the publication of the latest IPCC report we’re in danger, as with previous such reports, of failing to link the causes of the problem (emissions) with the day-to-day behaviour and decisions that are made in all areas of life. So for example, battles over bike lanes are still reported often as negative for motorists and a positive for cyclists with only a vague connection with environmental concerns. Similarly, new roads are announced with the cost in euros trumpeted as a big win for the local area, and maybe a small footnote about “sustainable transport”.

What would be helpful would be to “cost” new projects in terms of emissions, and for these figures to appear in press reports at least as prominently as financial costs do for the same projects. So “new €350 million bypass to open” would be matched by “new bypass will add 35,000 tonnes of CO2 per year”. As with financial figures, these amounts would come with caveats, but at least it would move things on from the idea that money is the real cost whereas emissions are just for the people concerned with “the environment”. – Yours, etc,


Salthill, Galway.

Sir, – Following the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which involved more than 200 scientists and thousands of studies, what are the odds that the former US president Donald Trump will alter his tune of climate change denial? Last year, in addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, which had the intensifying climate crisis at the top of its agenda, he urged the participants to “reject the perennial prophets of doom” and just last November he formally withdrew his country from the Paris climate agreement. This latest report even admonishes the Paris signatories, stating that the pledges made “were insufficient to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions enough” and issued “a code red for humanity” before our planet is destroyed. Considering this one issue alone, can we expect Donald Trump to remain as a potential Republican candidate for the 2024 US presidency? – Yours, etc,


Ballina, Co Mayo.

Sir, – It is to be hoped that the publication of the latest IPCC report, approved as it is by governments around the world, can finally attract the resources needed to engage with the climate emergency in a serious and coherent manner.

Those of us who have spent our careers in the science and engineering of better ways of doing things in the energy and environment space have often felt close to despair because we weren’t being listened to. We were inspired by people like Peter Chapman, who wrote in 1975: “You can fuel some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fuel all of the people all of the time.”

However, it wasn’t until an economist appropriately called Stern published The Economics of Climate Change in 2007 that (some) people started to take notice. The degree of international collaboration necessitated to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, while not fully realised in practice, has at least shown us all what is required to tackle such world-threatening matters. It is now appreciated, at least by some, that we should all “listen to the science” and act accordingly.

Let us hope that governments and peoples can appreciate the massive short-term measures required to deliver long-term sustainability, can commit appropriately and can deliver on such commitments. – Yours, etc,