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Climate action benefits are not just environmental, says Ryan

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan spoke at the party’s national convention this evening.

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan and Deputy Leader Catherine Martin
Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan and Deputy Leader Catherine Martin
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

GREEN PARTY LEADER and Minister for Transport and the Environment Eamon Ryan has said that many changes people can make to tackle the climate crisis are “worth doing anyway” for other reasons.

Ryan and his deputy Catherine Martin spoke at the Greens’ national convention this evening, which is being held virtually over the weekend.

Ryan said: “For those listening at home, let me say that the risk isn’t from taking action – the real risk is from standing back and doing nothing at all. For this new green economy is the one that is emerging across the world. It is an inevitable transition because under business as usual, the world will simply burn.

The only question”, he said, “is: Do we want to change now, or do we want to wait to try and catch up later, when it will cost us much, much more?

“The great thing is that most of these changes are worth doing anyway. For far too long the debate around climate change has fixated on what it would cost or what we need to cut out, or to ban.

“in December we will start by introducing new rules, so households and farms and businesses can put solar panels on their roofs and sell their excess power back to the grid.
The same month will also see the introduction of a new vision for road safety, aiming for zero deaths on our roads. It will create a ‘safe-system approach’ so that the priority is creating a safe environment for vulnerable road users.

Ryan said that habits such as school transport would have to change in a “back-to-the-future” way: “When I went to school the majority made it on foot or by bike whereas for my sons and daughter’s era being driven there became the norm. Reversing that trend is going to be good for everyone. Less traffic congestion, healthier children and more freedom for their parents.”

He said he would bring a proposal to Cabinet in the coming weeks on electrifying the Maynooth rail line, and ordering 95 new battery-electric train carriages for Irish Rail.

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In her speech, Martin said that while COP26 presented hope for tackling the climate crisis, “it was disillusioning to see other countries and politicians haggling to dilute wordings and trying
desperately to maintain the status quo”.

“Ireland may be a small country”, she said, “but we can set a leading and lasting example, and we can make a difference. The bottom line is that we need to act faster and be courageous in our actions.

“This is where the Green Party comes in … an enormous and intrinsic part of this challenge
is to endeavour to do all we can to take other political parties and the people on that journey with us – coming together for a cause bigger than any political party – this global challenge does not have time for opportunistic populism, it does not respect, let alone recognise geographical borders, political egos or political ideologies.”

The Green Party will celebrate its 40th birthday next month.

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