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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Twitter An Taoiseach speaking at COP27 this afternoon.
# Adaptation
‘Future generations will not forgive us’: Taoiseach tells COP27 that climate can’t wait
Micheál Martin delivered Ireland’s national statement to the World Leaders Summit at COP27.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 8th 2022, 1:40 PM

Lauren Boland reports from COP27

THE TAOISEACH HAS urged world leaders not to waste any more time before taking action on the climate, impressing upon them that the situation is “urgent but not hopeless”.

He pushed the clear warning that: “If this generation doesn’t step up urgently, future generations will not forgive us.”

COP27, an international climate confernece, is taking place this week and next week in Egypt, where countries are tasked with trying to negotiate new climate commitments – though even agreeing on an agenda was a drawn-out process.

A World Leaders Summit with heads of state and government from around the world began yesterday with a grim warning from United Nations Secretary Antonio Guterres that the world can either “cooperate or perish”.

The Taoiseach addressed the summit this afternoon to a room with delegates from other countries, climate experts, campaigners, and media.

He described how the world is “witnessing the reality of a changing climate” with “record temperatures, wildfires, floods, and droughts”.

“People in the poorest parts of our planet are being driven from regions that can no longer support and sustain them. Climate change is fuelling conflict, global instability, competition for resources and abject human misery,” he said.

The Taoiseach told the summit about Ireland’s targets to reduce emissions 51% by 2030 and to be climate-neutral by 2050 will be “challenging”.

He pointed to measures that Ireland has adopted on climate, such as the international climate finance roadmap – which had been due to be published in the first three months of this year but was released behind schedule in July.

“The burden of climate change globally is falling most heavily on those least responsible for our predicament,” he said.

He warned that people “will become increasingly cynical, weary and hopeless if words are not urgently matched by deeds, if commitments do not generate new realities”.

He said “the situation is urgent, but it is not hopeless” and that the world is making “progress, but it is far from enough”.

“This generation of leaders cannot say that we didn’t know. The science is clear – every tonne of carbon warms the world, every delay makes our task that bit bigger. Let us not waste a second more.”


The Taoiseach attended a working breakfast with the Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz and the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo this morning where funding was announced under the Global Shield initiative, a finance-protection programme targeted at countries under threat from the climate crisis.

Ireland has committed €10 million to the fund.

However, the move was criticised by activists because the funding relates to financial institutions like insurance rather than directly targeting the impacts of the climate crisis. 

Ahead of delivering Ireland’s national statement to the summit this afternoon, the Taoiseach told Irish media that his address will identify the urgency and necessity of taking action on the climate crisis.

“But also, I will balance it by by saying that people’s behavior is changing,” he said.

“People are making a difference and we can turn the tide. Already there is some evidence that the work of the last decade is bearing fruit but not at the pace that we needed to.

It is important to say to the younger generations that there is hope there, that through proper human behavior and changing how we do things, that we can actually turn this around, and we can protect the planet and understanding the enormous challenges we face.”

Also on the Taoiseach’s agenda today is a meeting with civil society representatives from Ireland who are attending the conference.

“I welcome the civil society contribution. Without civil society, I believe governments in the past would not have been perhaps provoked into action,” he told reporters.

He said that he will meet with representatives later today and that he values their input.

“I think much of the activism of young generations has been very influential in the last decade. I think that’s important and in a liberal democracy we value civil society.”

Adaptation Agenda

Meanwhile, COP27 President Sameh Shoukry released the details today of an Adaptation Agenda, a plan identifying outcomes that the world should aim for to boost resilience for four billion people in communities most vulnerable to climate change by 2030.

The issue of losses and damages that vulnerable countries are suffering due to climate change has quickly emerged as the dominating theme of the conference, and its success will likely be measured by how far developed countries can be pushed to support them. 

The plan focuses on food security and agriculture; water; human settlements; oceans; infrastructure; planning and finance.

The world should enable sustainable agriculture than can increase yields by 17% and reduce emissions by 21%; install early warning systems for extreme events; and allocate at least $10 billion a year to expanding access to clean cooking for 2.4 billion people.

In a statement, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell said that “as the growing number of climate emergencies throughout the world clearly shows, focusing on adaptation is a crucial, pressing necessity”.

“The Adaptation Agenda outlines multiple actions and combines the commitments of governments and non-Party stakeholders into a joint vision and a joint plan.

“We need all stakeholders on board to deal with current and future impacts of climate change, and this is a prime example of how that can happen.”

Ditching coal

Yesterday, the EU, along with France and Germany individually and the US and UK, backed a plan by South Africa to transition away from coal with an $8.5 billion deal.

The agreement could provide something of a template for other similar plans at a COP where the impact of the climate crisis on developing countries is at the forefront of minds.

South Africa’s economy currently depends on coal for 80% of its electricity generation.

The funding will be allocated to decommissioning coal power plants and investments to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, according to a joint statement.

US President Joe Biden said: “Our support for South Africa’s clean energy and infrastructure priorities, which include efforts to provide coalminers and affected communities the assistance that they need in this transition, will help South Africa’s clean energy economy thrive.”

Additional reporting by AFP

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