Time for action on climate change

 

Sir, – The report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes for disturbing reading. Climate change catastrophe is on the horizon and unless humanity changes its behaviour, famine, flooding and droughts will become the norm.

Average global temperatures have increased by 1 degree since pre-industrial times and any change above 1.5 degrees will result in significant damage to the planet. The solution, according to the IPCC, is to stop burning coal, gas and oil by 2050. That means zero emissions. A rise of 2 degrees would mean sea levels increasing by 10cm, putting 10 million people at risk. The impact on ice caps, coral reefs and sensitive species of plants and animals would be catastrophic.

The report says that renewable energy should provide 85 per cent of electricity globally by 2050 and in order to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, 2.7 million square miles of land must be used to grow trees and energy crops.

Such targets are extremely difficult to meet because for some cuts in greenhouse gases usually goes hand in hand with weaker economic growth. Economics and the environment are inextricably intertwined. However, the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of acting now.

According to Nicholas Stern, the UK economist who authored one of the first reports on the dilemma, the solution is global: “The evidence on the seriousness of the risks from inaction or delayed action is now overwhelming. We risk damages on the scale larger than the two world wars of the last century. The problem is global and the response must be a collaboration on a global scale”. – Yours, etc,

THOMAS POWER,

School of Engineering

and the Built Environment,

Dublin Institute

of Technology,

Dublin 9.

A chara, – The stark messages from this week’s IPCC report show that the time for much talk and little action on climate change is quickly diminishing.

It is therefore hugely concerning that the Government has ignored recommendations from a number of credible bodies, including the ESRI and the Climate Change Advisory Council, by failing to introduce a carbon tax increase in Budget 2019.

If the Government is serious about climate change mitigation, it must be willing to commit to difficult political decisions and challenging policy contexts, while ensuring that the necessary supports are in place to help communities in the transition to a decarbonised society.

As the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term costs, there is no justification for delay. Concerted policy consensus and commitment from across the political spectrum are in everyone’s interest. – Yours, etc,

CATHERINE DEVITT

Environmental

Justice Officer,

Jesuit Centre

for Faith and Justice,

Dublin 1.