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Taoiseach hails 'hugely important' IPCC climate report following criticism of his 'silence' yesterday

A UN report on climate change has found “deep reductions” in emissions are crucial to limit global warming.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Aug 10th 2021, 5:38 PM

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that “every tonne of emissions matters” in the battle against climate change and that Ireland is “stepping up” to the call for action. 

In a statement this afternoon, Martin said the government will publish its Climate Action Plan 2021 in the autumn which will outline “sector by sector, the targets and steps necessary to achieve our overall objectives” in reducing emissions. 

The Taoiseach’s comments come following yesterday’s alarming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which pointed to “unequivocal” evidence that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. 

The report outlined a number of potential future scenarios based on different CO2 levels, but said that the damage already caused means that global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the middle of the century under each model. 

Minister for the Environment and Climate Eamon Ryan said yesterday that “all countries must play their part” in solutions to mitigate the climate crisis.

The Taoiseach was criticised for not making a statement on the report yesterday, with Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan saying that he and Tánaiste “have been silent on this important report” and that this “amounts to a failure of leadership”.

“A report of this magnitude should be taken seriously and the Taoiseach and Tánaiste must show leadership here,” Boylan said.

In an op-ed on The Journal this morning, environmental commentator John Gibbons noted that neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil made any mention of the report on their Twitter accounts yesterday

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have tweeted videos this afternoon in response to the report, with Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also now sharing comments on their personal accounts. 

In a statement this afternoon, the Taoiseach said that “climate change will affect us all”. 

“Our ways of life – urban, coastal and rural – will all be impacted by climate change, with increasingly devastating consequences for lives, livelihoods and nature unless immediate action is taken,” he said. 

The Report is equally clear in describing the increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, heatwaves, flooding, droughts and wildfires that we can expect to experience from this increased warming effect. Its publication truly is a ‘code red for humanity’. 

The Taoiseach pointed to Climate Act recently passed in the Dáil which makes Ireland’s carbon reduction targets legally binding. 

The targets outline that the county must reach a 51% reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.

The Taoiseach said that how the country achieves this will be outlined in the upcoming government plan. 

“The Climate Action Plan 2021 will be published this Autumn and will reflect our higher level emissions reduction ambition and will set out the direction of Ireland’s response to the deepening climate crisis,” he said. 

The time to act is now and government is doing so. But government on its own cannot make the difference required. In our Republic, every citizen, industry and community must embrace this challenge and make the decisions necessary for positive change.

Carbon tax

Speaking earlier today about the government’s response to the climate crisis, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the government “remains committed” to increasing carbon tax to €100 per tonne, adding that with climate change will be “central” to upcoming budget.

Donohoe said that climate change represented “a huge challenge to humanity” and that the government is part of the response to it.

As part of the Programme for Government agreed by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party, the coalition outlined a target of increasing Carbon Tax gradually up to €100 per tone by 2030. 

As part of that pledge, Carbon Tax increased by €7.50 from €26 per tonne to €33.50 per tonne in Budget 2021 and increased €6 per tonne in the previous budget. 

Budget 2022 discussions are set to kick up a gear next month ahead of the mid-October announcement.

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Donohoe said today that, while he cannot yet say what Carbon Tax increase will take place next year, climate will be “central” to those discussions. 

“I’m not in a position to be able to say what additional changes might be contained in the budget as a result of the publication of the report yesterday, which reminded us of the threats to our civilization and humanity in some parts of our world because of climate change,” he said.

But it has been an ongoing feature now of the last two budgets that we’ve done to increase carbon taxation, and we have now legislation for automatic increases in carbon taxation each year until we hit our target of €100 per tonne of carbon emissions and I remain committed to do that.

He added: “I would expect now when we begin the next phase of our budgetary preparations in September that climate will continue to be central to discussions. But it will be a lot later in September or early October when we could be seeing any specific changes as a result of the work that we do.” 

Asked today about the social media silence on the IPCC report from the Fine Gael account yesterday, Donohoe said that Eamon Ryan “commented on it on behalf of the government”.

“The new climate governance bill that the government has just passed through the Dáil builds on the work done by Richard Bruton when he was Minister for Climate in the last government. The commitment to change carbon taxation is a commitment that I implemented as Minister for Finance both in this and the last government,” he said.

“The actions that we have taken in that bill, but now critically the work that we’re going to have to do to turn this into a Climate Action Plan later on in the year, speaks to the commitment that both Fine Gael and the government has to respond back to the huge challenge to humanity that was highlighted by the IPCC.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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