Tackling the climate emergency

 

Sir, – I read with interest the letter by Seán Kelly MEP and others claiming that Fine Gael and the EPP are taking real climate action (May 22nd).

Climate action means stopping the drilling, extraction and burning of fossil fuels. Climate action means putting systems in place that negate the need for them, such as generation of electricity from renewable energy sources, the replacement of private cars with public transport, and energy-efficiency measures for all buildings. It also entails the regeneration of natural ecosystems that can act as carbon sinks.

As signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement, we have agreed we need to halt warming at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels in order to avoid the catastrophic climate breakdown that is already in progress. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us that an emissions reduction of 45 per cent (from 2010 levels) by 2030 is needed, and a further reduction to zero emissions by 2050, which we can only do by emitting less than 40 more gigatonnes of C02. At current emissions rates we will overshoot 40 gigatonnes and 1.5 degrees in eight years. The consequences of not staying within these limits are horrific: crop failures, extreme storms, more catastrophic wildfires and floods, all worsening every year. Millions of lives are at risk.

We cannot burn even a quarter of known fossil fuel reserves without causing the extinction of most life of every kind on this planet, including ourselves.

Mr Kelly says that he and his party are “aware of the consequences if we fail to act now”.

However, this Government has in the last week taken two actions that are the exact opposite of what is needed: it has issued a new exploratory licence to China National Offshore Oil Company and Exxon Mobil to drill for oil off the Kerry coast, and it has slapped a “money message” on the Climate Emergency Measures Bill, effectively blocking it from proceeding to committee stage.

How can a party that claims to be doing everything possible to stop climate change put the financial concerns of oil companies and governments above the continued existence of human beings and all other species?

I notice that Mr Kelly shows no concern for the €150 million that Ireland will pay to the EU next year in fines for not meeting our emissions targets.

We need real and robust climate action.

Our very existence depends upon it. We are in a state of emergency, and we need our leaders to act accordingly. – Yours, etc,

AISLING WHEELER,

Kilfenora,

Co Clare.