By James Ward, PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has hailed a pact made by the United States and China at the Cop26 climate summit.
The two superpowers, the world’s biggest emitters of CO2, pledged to act in a joint declaration made in a surprise announcement in Glasgow on Wednesday.
Both nations agreed to “recall their firm commitment to work together” and to close the “significant gap” to achieving the 1.5C temperature goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Speaking on Thursday, Mr Martin praised US president Joe Biden for bringing America back from the point of being in “climate denial” under the Trump administration.
He said: “The most important thing that happened in the last year and a bit has been the election of Joe Biden as president of the United States in respect of climate change.
“That’s my view because prior to that we were facing a fairly depressing scenario where you had an administration that was almost in climate denial.
“Why is that important? You can see already leading into Cop 26 that the European Union, which is a leader in terms of climate change, is now partnering with the United States and the Biden administration with John Kerry as a special envoy, and driving the global agenda.
“Now this morning, we hear about a very good partnership announcement between the US and China.
“John Kerry’s saying he’s had 30 meetings with his counterpart in China and they’re reaching agreement.
“The Chinese envoy on climate is now saying this is an existential crisis, we’re partnering with the world and with the US to deal with this. This is progress.”
'We are behind'
Mr Martin also said Ireland had much to do on the climate change front.
“Speed is everything here and we in this country are behind,” he told Dermot and Dave on Today FM.
“We need to move, because it’s about the generations, it’s about my children, the children coming after me. That’s what this is about.”
The Taoiseach said it was important not to “vilify” certain sectors on the issue, but instead work together to find solutions.
He referenced a meeting with 15-year-old climate activist and farmer Liadh Dalton, who spent a day working in the Taoiseach’s office this week as part of a Unicef programme.
A pleasure to meet Liadh Dalton as part of @unicefireland’s #KidsTakeOver
Really impressed by her passion for farming and tackling climate change.
The positivity of young people like Liadh show how we can all work together for a more sustainable future. pic.twitter.com/qIJUajCDRi
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) November 10, 2021
He said: “Her main concern, she’s a young farmer from Offaly, is very committed to climate change, but feels that we’re not building bridges between communities.
“That rather than vilifying, say, the agricultural community, we should be engaging and building bridges with the agricultural community.
“Working out projects through research as to what will help them reduce methane, get better practices, technologies. And it was very interesting.”
He added: “I thought it was a good insight for me. Here’s a young person whose future is at stake, who loves the land, is on the land for generations and wants to be a part of the solution.
“And she is saying to me: ‘Look, stop attacking our community on a constant basis. Work with us to get it done.’
“That has to be the spirit that informs how we approach this into the future.”