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Leo Varadkar

'Most important in years': Taoiseach heads to Dubai for COP28 climate change conference

Varadkar said Ireland in particular has a lot of opportunities when it comes to renewable energy.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR is in Dubai, United Arab Emirates today to attend COP28, the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The 2023 Summit, held in Expo City and beginning today, is one of the most important in years as counties will take stock on what progress has been made to meet the targets agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

During the two weeks, negotiations on how to cut emissions, produce more renewable energy, and use climate finance to limit the impact of climate change on people and the environment will take place.

Speaking from Dubai, the Taoiseach said this year’s summit is a “crucial” opportunity. 

“We’ve had a year of record-breaking temperatures and alarming severe weather events, including some on our own shores, which have had disastrous consequences for the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people around the world,” he said. 

The Taoiseach will hold several bilateral meetings with world leaders while at COP28. 

It is understood these will focus predomenantly on climate change but will also include the ongoing wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.

The Taoiseach will make Ireland’s National Statement to the conference this Saturday, which will set out Ireland’s commitment to vulnerable countries experiencing the greatest impact of climate change. 

Varadkar said we must work harder and faster to secure “a safe, healthy, prosperous environment for all.”

He said one of the most effective ways to do this is via a better system of climate finance.

“Sadly, the countries suffering most from climate change often have the greatest difficulty getting access to the finance and resources they need to deal with it.

“So, I look forward to COP28 making progress on a new loss and damage fund,” he said.

Ireland has committed to €225m a year from 2025 to climate finance.

This is the highest ever committed by Ireland. The Taoiseach said he fully expects Ireland to reach that target. 

“At a time when the world is divided in so many ways, the urgent need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and bring down our emissions, is one challenge that unites us all,” the Taoiseach said, adding that prioritisation and scaling up of adaptation measures is needed. 

“Climate change is happening even faster than most people anticipated. The international community must achieve the goals it has committed to. We need to find a way of removing the obstacles that have stood in the way of progress to date.”

The Taoiseach added that there are also a lot of opportunities, particularly for Ireland in renewable energy. 

“We have vast natural resources, which we can harness, making us energy independent and fuelling our economy with cheap, reliable, secure energy.

“The transition must be just and fair. I’m really conscious that both the effects of climate change, and the actions needed to prevent it, do not affect people equally, so we must make sure we protect the most vulnerable in everything we do,” he said.

 “Whatever is agreed here at COP28, it will have consequences for the future of our planet and its people.” 

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