Dáil debates

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Establishment of Special Joint Committee on Climate Action: Motion


4:30 pm

Photo of Maureen O'SullivanMaureen O'Sullivan (Dublin Central, Independent) | Oireachtas source

The word I would use about Ireland is "disconnect". There is a perception that climate change has nothing to do with us, we did not cause it and really we are not affected by it. However, we have scientific evidence that climate change is real. It is happening, humans are responsible and we are all affected. Some are affected more than others, as the Minister knows - crucially, those who are in what is known as the global south or developing world. Those who have done the least damage to the environment are most affected by the decisions we make in the so-called developed world. Our record has been very poor. Although Ireland did not have massive industries such as the coal industry, we need to accept the reality that we could and should be doing more.

We have a drought warning, the first in many years. The drought we are experiencing today is a reality for millions in the developing world every single day. Their crops and productivity are not for profit but are a matter of life and death, of survival. Our relationship to climate change and way of tackling it seem to involve renegotiating targets, finding loopholes to avoid targets, and avoiding fines. We consider that a win because we are valuing profit over sustainability. Climate change is a massive threat. Our generation cannot understand how previous generations tolerated slavery for so long. Later generations will be at a loss to understand why we did not do more about climate change. Deputy Thomas Pringle's Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill will be before the House on Report Stage next week. It is long overdue. As Iceland harnessed its volcanic geology for energy, surely we can do more, even for purely economic reasons. Our reliance on fossil fuels makes us very susceptible to changes in the market.

Our country has a considerable record when it comes to human rights. Our aid is poverty focused and untied. We played a phenomenal role in developing the sustainable development goals and getting agreement on them. The Minister's Department is taking part in the first voluntary national review of progress. Climate change or some aspect of it is a feature of practically every one of those sustainable development goals. We need to achieve policy coherence. Cuirim fáilte roimh an choiste agus an obair atá le teacht.


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