President Michael D Higgins underlined the grave implications of the impending climate crisis in an address to the UN General Assembly in New York.
President Michael D Higgins has warned that the climate crisis is “moving so much faster than the efforts we are expending or enlisting to address it” in a speech at the 74th UN General Assembly in New York.
He warned that there was no greater challenge facing the international community that is more urgent than the climate emergency, in an address as part of a campaign for Ireland to secure a seat on the UN National Security Council in 2021.
Higgins urged all countries to take decisive climate management moves and said nations must “muster the courage to take action”.
“We must expose and oppose the obduracy in continuation of what has been shown to be unsustainable,” he continued. “Otherwise, we will be justifiably regarded by future inhabitants of our planet as having colluded in the destruction of the lives and life-worlds of some of the most vulnerable peoples of our human family and the biodiversity on which our planetary life depends.”
He agreed with UN Secretary General António Guterres, who has said “that schoolchildren have grasped the urgency of climate action better than some global leaders”.
‘Young people, and citizens of all generations, are asking us now for more than a response to climate change. They are seeking authenticity of words and actions’
– MICHAEL D HIGGINS
These comments come hot on the heels of worldwide global climate strikes led by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, which culminated in her speech at a UN climate summit on Monday.
Higgins noted that young people have “accepted the science” and have a keener grasp of the disastrous consequences of our present models, and “see the prospect of their futures disappearing due to inaction and short-term thinking.”
He continued: “Young people, and citizens of all generations, are asking us now for more than a response to climate change. They are seeking authenticity of words and actions.”
Laying the burden of this solely at the feet of the UN as an institution, he said, would be wrong, adding that responsibility is on all leaders and citizens to address the issue. Referring to his own personal role in climate crisis, he noted that he plans to travel by ship to Athens and Cyprus in October.
Higgins’ speech followed the release of the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warned that sharp emissions cuts are needed to curb “unprecedented” changes in the world’s oceans and frozen areas due to the climate crisis.
Michael D Higgins. Image: Irish Labour Party/Flickr