Civil society groups call for Ireland’s new Taoiseach to ratchet up climate action

Published by Niall Sargent on

Environmental and civil society groups have called for the new Taoiseach to ratchet up Ireland’s climate action in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, TD was elected as the next Fine Gael leader and taoiseach-in-waiting yesterday, less than 24 hours after Mr Trump’s announcement that puts the US in line to join only Nicaragua and Syria as non-participants in the Paris Agreement.

In December 2015, more than 190 countries adopted the Agreement, the most ambitious climate change agreement in history.

While criticising the US’ decision, An Taisce said that Ireland is also failing to deliver on our targets under the Paris Climate Agreement, urging the next Taoiseach to recommit to “evidence-based science and international solidarity” in tackling climate change.

“Climate change is a fact of life that the international community, despite the decision by the US, will have to continue to develop strategies to cope with”, said John Gibbons of An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee.

“The US has abandoned its traditional position of international leadership, so others need to step up and fill the vacuum”, he added.

Mr Gibbons added that the National Mitigation Plan, due out later this month, must add up to a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy, starting this year not later. Ireland is currently one of only two EU countries unlikely to meet our 2020 targets on carbon emissions.

The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of 26 environmental NGOs in Ireland, said last month that the “long overdue” draft of the Plan is almost “wholly inadequate to meet the climate challenges ahead”.

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition held a rally outside the US Embassy yesterday afternoon to protest Mr Trump’s decision to play “Russian roulette with humanity’s life support system”.

SCC is a coalition of environmental organizations, faith groups, and aid agencies, including Trócaire , whose Executive Director, Eamonn Meehan urged the new Taoiseach to reaffirm Ireland’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.

“The Trump administration’s hostility to reality should not distract the rest of the world from the task of building a safe and sustainable future,” he said.

“This is an opportunity for Ireland to show leadership on the global stage by reaffirming our belief in and commitment to the targets set out in the Paris Agreement.”

Also speaking at the event, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said that we “need to get our own house in order” in Ireland and follow through with own commitments on climate change.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson said in a statement that other world leaders will “build a legacy to be proud of” and create a “truly sustainable future” powered by renewables.

“We are bound together as a global family living on a shared planet; in order to thrive we have to respect each other and respect our planet,” she added.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London