‘It’s going to be very challenging,’ Martin tells Dublin Climate Summit

Ireland is about to enter a challenging period as the government applies greater urgency to climate action and the country accepts demanding carbon budgets, the Taoiseach said.

“It’s going to be very challenging,” Micheál Martin said at the Dublin Climate Summit at UCD on Thursday. “There will be people coming to this kicking and screaming in terms of saying ‘your industry has to do this; your industry has to do it’. It will need relentless focus.”

Responding to climate change, he said, requires a lot of collaboration, but also “an honest conversation and a shared acceptance that we all need to change the way we do things so much will be vital if we are to succeed.”

He added: “Achieving Ireland’s climate goals will require changes across all sectors of society and the economy, reinforced by the collaborative effort of government, business, communities and individuals to implement ambitious new policies, technological innovations, systems and infrastructure.

“This will require changes in our collective and individual behaviors, including how we work, heat our homes, travel, consume goods and services and manage our waste.”

Martin said that “no sector is or can be affected by this comprehensive and shared transition that we have embarked on,” and that work was underway to set emission ceilings across the economy, which will determine how each sector will contribute to achieving the carbon budgets.

He said that while “climate change is the biggest challenge we face as a country and as a planet,” there was a need to “consistently bring the public with us on this journey to ensure that our children’s children have a quality environment to live in and the world is brought back from the abyss towards which it is currently headed”.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia immoral invasion of Ukraine has also brought into focus the need to phase out fossil fuels and develop renewable energy “at a pace that ensures our energy security.”

While Ireland has made significant progress in rolling out renewable electricity, Martin said “we must do a lot more and we must do it quickly”. Strategic public investment was vital to act at the scale and pace required, but investment needs “simply cannot be met sustainably by the public sector alone”.

EU finance ministers

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said climate change had become a central part of the monthly meetings of the Eurogroup of EU finance ministers, which he chairs, and that this was not the case five years ago.

He said he thought Covid-19 would “deflect the issue to the side”, but reminded people of the intimate and deep bond with their natural environment, so much so that a large part of the EU’s recovery fund of more than €600 billion was designed to deliver projects that help meet climate goals.

The war in Ukraine raised the possibility of another derailment of the climate agenda, but “again, the opposite happened,” Donohoe said.

“Because what governments and ministers fully understand is that if we want to become energy independent and we want to reduce our dependence – which will take time – on imported oil and gas. . . Renewable energy is now the only medium-term game in town.”

Culture Minister Catherine Martin said that despite Ireland’s relatively strong economic position and temperate climate, it is not immune to climate risks, “nor can we afford to look away from the damage that is occurring elsewhere.” .

The work of the news media has been crucial in combating climate change disinformation and denial and in debunking conspiracy theories, she said.

Irish media faced the challenge of reporting on climate change, Martin said. “There is now a vibrant public debate about how we can best, together as a society, mitigate the climate crisis and adapt, while protecting the most vulnerable. It’s a debate that now influences all areas of policy, from the optimal design of our energy system to the role of the tax system. But of course more can, should and will be done.”

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