By Cate McCurry, PA
The fight against climate change will need joined-up policy and investment on a cross-Border basis, the Taoiseach has said.
Micheal Martin said there is no more “significant and common concern” than tackling the generational challenge of climate change in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
The Fianna Fáil leader joined Northern Ireland political leaders Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill for an all-island climate change event in Belfast.
The event discussed what global agreement on climate action means for companies across the island of Ireland.
Mr Martin said the Irish Government has made a €1 billion cash injection into the Shared Island Fund for collaborative North/South projects.
He added: “There is no more significant and common concern for us on this island, and across these islands, than meeting the generational challenge of climate change.
“So, to be fully effective on climate action, we need joined-up policy approaches and co-ordinated investment on a cross-Border basis.
“It is significant that I am sharing this stage with the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
“But it is also significant that they are here together — jointly — to address this important topic for the people of Northern Ireland and of the whole island.
Pleased to address the #LetsPowerChangeTogether climate action event in Belfast today.
The impact of climate change will be felt by every individual, household, business and community on this island… pic.twitter.com/GbTMVgXSUT
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) October 8, 2021
“It is only through the good functioning of the Northern Ireland Executive that the challenges of climate change and Covid recovery can be met by and for the people of Northern Ireland.”
Mr Givan said there has been evident changes in recent decades.
He said that the average temperature in Northern Ireland has risen by nearly 1% from the mid-70s to the mid-2010s.
“Climate change was not a concept that had much currency a century ago, but nevertheless it was real,” he added.
“Rainfall in Northern Ireland has increased by over 6%, hard to believe in this part of the world you can get even more rain.
“This year we saw the highest temperatures on record on the season and the seas around us are rising and weather events, that once thought extreme, are increasingly common.
"There is no more significant common concern on this island than meeting the climate challenge."
An Taoiseach @MichealMartinTD outlining the need for an all-island approach to tackling climate change. #LetsPowerChangeTogether pic.twitter.com/9VrIwH3Xb3
— SSE Ireland (@SSEIreland) October 8, 2021
“As we gather today, we are united in our promise to the next generation that we must do all we can to preserve this place as their future home.
“Our shared experience of the Covid-19 global pandemic has shown us that when we join together, we can find solutions that are for the good of humanity.”
Deputy First Minister Ms O’Neill stressed the importance of working on a cross-border basis, saying that climate does not recognise borders.
The Sinn Féin deputy leader said that colossal changes are happening every day.
“The devastating impact of climate and how it unfolds is being felt right across the world,” Ms O’Neill added.
“I think that whenever you look at things like the increase in sea levels, the extreme weather, famine, disease, threat to food security, conflict, people being forced to flee their homes to take refuge, the evidence is very, very clear.
“There’s no doubt that the issues that we face are political, they’re economic and they are societal challenges.
“That means that it’s going to take leadership on all of our parts to be able to work our way through all of this.
“I hope that today shows a very clear demonstration, that at a political level, the leaders of government in the North, the Taoiseach being here, us all standing together to say that we recognise the seriousness of the challenge that we face, but also our commitment to tackling that and doing something about it, which is more important.”