Climate crisis – ‘a code red for humanity’

Sir, – A very simple but effective message, and one that would show real leadership, would be to change the official cars used by the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, Ministers, etc, to fully electric vehicles. It is incredible to still see them in the large executive-style gas-guzzlers. In the current climate crisis, it’s not just incredible, it’s inexcusable. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.


Sir, – The easy part of dealing with climate change was always going to be convincing people that it is happening. This has only taken decades but we do not see much denial anymore. However, the next phase of reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) to zero by 2050 is going to be more difficult. There are many commentators indicating that this will be a win-win process and that it is not going to be that hard. This view is ignoring the profound political and economic problems thrown up by the race to decarbonise society.

Some argue that we can solve the climate crisis by more economic growth and the production of more green technologies. Others argue that we need to curb economic growth as measured by GDP.

This debate needs to be resolved quickly by research answering the question of whether environmental destruction (eg, climate change, biodiversity crises, etc) can be decoupled from economic growth or not. If they can be decoupled, then we can still grow economically and devise new technologies and behaviour that will lead to a zero-carbon future.

On the other hand, if we cannot decouple growth and environmental destruction, we then face a very severe situation. We are then looking at major political and economic changes in the way we organize society. For example, poorer regions of the world will still need to grow but as overall growth in the world economy is not possible, some wealth will have to be transferred from rich countries to poorer region of the world. Achieving this will not be easy.

We have only a few decades to achieve our goal of zero carbon and we need to reduce GHGs by over 50 per cent by 2030 in the developed world. We will need to get buy-in to a GHG reduction plan from all countries in the world. This is possible, and hopefully much progress will be made at the COP 21 (2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference) meeting in Glasgow, but it is an unprecedented project. I think we should point out the advantages of a world free from the existential threats we face but we should also warn people that it will be anything but easy and major changes will be necessary in the way we live. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – As the threat of climate change looms larger, we are beginning to move past the denial stage and are entering the excuses phase. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change must be feeling a little like Cassandra, having the power of true prophecy, but under a curse from the gods so that none heed its words. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.

Sir, – Taking the stance that Ireland should not be burdened to fight climate change until larger countries do so is to miss a marvellous opportunity and discourage individuals to act in defence of our planet. A letter writer (August 10th) is wrong to do so.

Inevitably, all countries will need to adjust to the new reality and shift to a cleaner economy. If Ireland already has the know-how and a home-grown green tech industry by the time larger countries gain momentum, there will be great opportunity to capitalise on the shift.

The green revolution might seem costly now, but will yield a high return on investment for those who back it early. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – The IPCC report starkly presents our future to us.

How is it then that the Irish afforestation programme has been allowed to collapse from a Government annual projection of more than 8,000 hectares to 2,400 hectares last year, due to red tape and no real commitment to change things? Especially as the Irish programme needs to be 15,000 hectares annually to make a real difference? – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.