Mary Robinson at the 2014 One Young World Conference in Dublin, Ireland Photo: Stefan Schäfer

Climate Change: standing at a crossroads for “our very humanity” says Mary Robinson

July 16th, 2018

The existential threat of climate change has left the world standing at a crossroads for “our very humanity”, Mary Robinson said at a UN conference last weekend.

Speaking at a side meeting of the ongoing high-level UN forum on the Sustainable Development Goals in New York, Mary Robinson said that expert warnings of a potential three to four-degree increase in global temperature are “very scary”.

The former President, who runs her own climate justice foundation, said in her opening comments that we are now “living through challenging times” due to the “existential threat” posed by climate change.

“As such, we stand at a crossroads for our very humanity,” she warned.  “In the face of a challenge so great, it is easy to feel helpless… We need to support each other in order to move forward.”

It is vital, she added, to work together to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement as, for some communities, the 1.5 °C target set out in Paris Agreement can be vital for extinction.

Ms Robinson said that climate justice is becoming a civil rights movement in which everyone can participate and it must ensure that the voices of all the people must be heard when the decisions on climate change and sustainable development are being taken.

“Intergenerational equality lies at the heart of climate justice and sustainable development,” Ms Robinson said, calling on world leaders to work to ensure a healthy planet for future generations rather than focusing on short-term political cycles.

Mrs Robinson said that is everyone’s duty is to live in such a way so that our “precious, life sustaining environment” is passed on to future generations in at least as healthy a state as it was received from the generations before us.

“We will not succeed in ensuring a safer world for future generations and fighting climate change, without first ensuring dignity and rights of all people alive today are respected and protected,” she added.

Ms Robinson’s foundation is working to establish an office of the Global Guardians of Future Generations, she said, to help enhance mutual trust between Member States, the UN and civil society to adopt a “development first” approach to intergenerational equity.

It must be assured that countries at different levels of development are heard, she said, as this will help to balance the needs of people living in poverty and underdevelopment with the economic, social and environmental needs of future generations.

World leaders, Ministers and hundreds of civil society groups from around the world are at the UN headquarters in New York for the High-level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Denis Naughten, Minister for Climate Action and Environment will be in New York tomorrow to present Ireland’s first Voluntary National Review detailing the steps the Government have taken in the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

A delegation from Coalition 2030, a grouping of over 100 Irish civil society organisations, is also attending the event and will launch its own shadow report tomorrow morning.

About the Author

Laura Matjusaityte

Laura is a first-year journalism student at DIT. She has an interest in the environment, veganism and literature.

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