Now is our ‘defining moment’ for climate change – President Higgins

21 Jul 2015

Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland

Irish President Michael D Higgins has warned that we may be the final generation with the tools to help combat the growing threat of climate change.

Speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris today , President Higgins warned that a failure to appropriately respond to the “scientific reality” of climate change could lead us down an irreversible path.

“We must begin with an acceptance of the evidence of science. It is now clear that failure to respond to the scientific reality of climate change may ultimately lead to the destruction of life on our planet,” he said.

Calling on society to “unequivocally reject” the position of people looking to obscure this scientific reality, Higgins said: “the first ethical test is in accepting that there can be no compromise with truth”.

Backing the world to take action, Higgins lauded the younger members of society – whose search for beauty and awe for nature is apparent – while hoping the wiser elders of the world could influence policies and institutions for the greater good.

Other speakers in Paris today include former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, Prince Albert of Monaco, former president of Ireland and UN special envoy for climate change Mary Robinson and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.

International climate change negotiations have evolved significantly in the past two decades or so. What started in 1992 in the Rio Earth Summit expanded and culminated in the 2005 Kyoto Protocol.

From this, the Bali Action Plan in 2007 was followed by a meeting in Copenhagen two years later that aimed to limit global warming to 2oC.

“In 2010, the Cancun Conference enabled us to make this goal effective,” explained COP 21, the event at which President Higgins is speaking.

“Would it not be the greatest of all human achievements if we were to succeed in delivering the benefits of science, the shared wisdom, instinct and intuition of diverse cultures, and the products of reason and faith; and in delivering all of these through new, balanced models of development, ecology and society?” asked Higgins.

Main image via Irish Defence Forces on Flickr

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic