Taoiseach at COP26: ‘It’s not too late’ to address climate crisis

2 Nov 2021

Image: © Вера Тихонова/Stock.adobe.com

Taoiseach Micheál Martin outlined Ireland’s commitments in addressing the climate crisis, including increasing financial aid.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Ireland would increase its financial contributions to developing countries affected by the climate crisis to €225m by 2025.

The announcement was made as part of Ireland’s national address at the UN’s 26th climate conference, COP26, in which he outlined the country’s commitments this afternoon (2 November).

The summit will run until 12 November and is being attended by hundreds of world leaders in Glasgow. In his address, Martin said that “young people worry that there will be no worthwhile future for them to inherit”, but he said he would do “everything” in his power to ensure that this would not be the case.

“We do not believe or accept, as some would have it, that it is too late; that the transition will be too costly; that it is inevitable that we will leave people behind; that someone else should shoulder the load,” he told the audience.

Conor O’Neill, policy and advocacy adviser for non-profit Christian Aid Ireland, said the contribution was “welcome” but not enough for “the scale of the task at hand”.

“Taking past emissions and wealth into account, it’s likely only half of our fair share of the global effort needed, which is closer to €500m per year. We have to remember that climate finance is not some optional, charitable extra. It’s the repayment of an ecological debt by those who overwhelmingly caused the crisis, and a real test of their sincerity in tackling it,” he said.

“We need a clear, urgent plan for delivery of climate finance and an increased level of ambition consistent with the science and global need,” he added.

Pledge to cut methane emissions

Yesterday, it was reported that Martin would sign a global pledge to cut methane emissions by 30pc. However, he emphasised at the time that the target was a global one and not a national one.

“We will contribute globally to a global reduction. It’s a global pledge, it’s not country-specific. We will develop our climate action plan which will give our specifics in respect of each sector,” he said.

Ireland will sign the pledge together with about 90 other countries, including the US and many EU nations. Most methane emissions come from agriculture.

EY Ireland head of sustainability Stephen Prendiville, who is attending the summit, said: “While it remains unclear whether the EU targets will be 30pc, and then whether that goal will apply consistently to all EU countries, whatever target Ireland ends up working towards – the route to achieving it will involve some tough questions and course of action for the agri sector specifically.

“Ireland’s recently announced national carbon budget has an implicit reduction in methane considered, albeit the allocation of those carbon budgets to sectors has yet to be finalised,” Prendiville added.

He said it “remains to be seen how this pledge could place or replace the pressure on the Irish agri sector to tackle its emission footprint in the immediate term” as the country advances towards the 2030 deadline.

Martin has also addressed the farming industry’s need to be involved in attempts to cut methane emissions rates. Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme this week, he said that building a sustainable future had to involve all parties being realistic about what the “land can take”.

He said there should be incentives for farmers to protect biodiversity. He also cautioned against “scaremongering”, adding that he did not accept reports in the Irish Farmers Journal that emission cuts of 21pc could result in the loss of 10,000 jobs.

“We have no choice here. The climate change will catch up with us. It will catch up with our farming. It will catch up with our agriculture if we don’t take action,” he said.

Ireland has also joined more than 100 countries in signing a pledge to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, in the COP26 climate summit’s first major deal.

Experts welcomed the move, but warned that a previous deal in 2014 had “failed to slow deforestation at all” and this time, commitments needed to be delivered on.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic