Cop26: It is not ‘too late’ to the turn tide on climate change, says Taoiseach

The Taoiseach also said that legally binding targets will ensure Ireland will reduce emissions and reach climate neutrality by 2050.
Cop26: It is not ‘too late’ to the turn tide on climate change, says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has told fellow leaders at Cop26 that it is not too late to turn the tide on climate change.

As reported in The Irish Times, Mr Martin told the summit that Ireland’s policies reflect the country’s confidence that the aim of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees can be achieved with fairness.

The Taoiseach also said that legally binding targets will ensure Ireland will reduce emissions and reach climate neutrality by 2050.

“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 said.

“We believe in the immense capacity of humans to work together and to achieve great things. If we act decisively now, we will offer humanity the most valuable prize of all - a liveable planet.”

Mr Martin mentioned how a cooler and more biodiverse world “with healthier air for us to breathe, healthier soil for things to grow in” can be achieved.

“A world in which people can live more sustainable lives, handing a healing and enriched planet to future generations. We can create a world in which human impact on all parts of our ecosphere - the land, the sea, the air - is brought back into balance,” the Taoiseach said.

He also announced Ireland will be doubling its annual contributions of climate finance for poorer countries to €225 million by 2025. Mr Martin said countries in the developed world have a responsibility to those more challenged by climate change.

Existential crisis

Speaking to reporters, the Taoiseach said that presentations made by smaller and low income states at Cop26 have brought home the message that climate change is very real for them.

“It’s not something in the distant future in terms of an existential crisis for their societies and the need in terms of climate finance is to make it more practical in terms of its distribution, its allocation and operationalisation,” Mr Martin said.

“In other words, there are many hurdles to accessing climate finance for these countries and there really was a plea from the heart at yesterday’s afternoon session to really change and improve upon that.”

Change in political leadership

Reacting to the speech made by the Taoiseach, Oisín Coghlan, director of Friends of the Earth, said Mr Martin's comments marked a change in political leadership.

"I've never heard a Taoiseach speak so convincingly on the need for climate action," Mr Coghlan said.

"Of course, these fine words now need to be translated into firm action. The real test will be the Climate Action Plan due to be published later this week.

"Fairness must be our watchword. Doing our fair share as a country and every sector doing its fair share. No more and no less. And everyone getting the support we need to leave no one behind in the transition."

Mr Coghlan also said the Taoiseach's announcement of increases in Ireland's climate financing to help poorer countries cope with climate change is welcome.

However, he commented that €225 million by 2025 still falls short of Ireland's "fair share".

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