Climate crisis and political action

Sir, – The response by Evan Byrne (Letters, July 31st) is what makes me so pessimistic that we will be able to solve our climate predicament. The inference of this market-orientated techno-optimism is that we have time on our hands to gradually "nudge" citizens in the right direction through piecemeal approaches without discommoding their current lifestyles.

We do not. Climate change is a clear and present danger, and we are fast approaching a global climate which is beyond that which has been experienced in the entire history of human civilisation.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear. Limiting global warming to a “safe” threshold of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels requires “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. We are currently at 1.2 degrees and we have less than a decade to halve our emissions.

Unless citizens are willing to accept that our lifestyles must fundamentally change – and that there will be some pain – we have no chance of achieving a habitable future.


We have seen during the pandemic that the public is, by and large, willing to accept very significant inconveniences for the greater good, so long as the risks are clearly communicated, which is the job of political leadership.

This is not idealism. It’s realism. We’re in an emergency. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 1.