The latest IPCC report published this week represents the last publication in the present 6 th

Assessment Report cycle. It will be a further 6 years or more before the collective wisdom of the

world’s top climate scientists is revised. By then the planet will almost certainly have passed through

the first tipping point of warming of 1.5℃ above its pre-industrial level. By then the demise of the

homes of millions of people in low lying and vulnerable areas will be well underway. By then the

world will be on what the UN describes as the ‘Highway to Hell’. And yet we don’t really get the

message, do we?

The report confirms that the earth is hotter than it has been for 125,000 years, that methane

concentrations are at their highest for 2 million years, that 1.5℃ means that 14% of all terrestrial

species face an extinction risk and that deadly heat waves, storms and floods will put a ‘liveable’

future at risk for all humanity. But we don’t really get the message, do we?

For Ireland we continue to increase our greenhouse gas emissions and put in place ambitious

reduction targets that we fail to meet. Our legally binding carbon budget of 295Mt of greenhouse

gases over the current period 2021-2025 is hardly mentioned as we kick the can down the road to

2030 or even 2050. The two main parties in government acquiesce in stifling measures in order to

keep their key supporters onside for the next election. The climate emergency demands emergency

action and toes to be tread on. Why are we not getting the leadership that the problem and the

people demand?

Emeritus Professor John Sweeney of An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee stated “Emergency

action, such as was taken during Covid should include: a mandatory reduction in car usage, through

immediate congestion charges, VRT penalties on high emitters, higher parking charges and reduced,

or zero fares on all public transport; accelerating the retrofit programme; mandatory reduction over

the next two years in dairy cow numbers and an end to the nitrate derogation."

Theresa O’Donohoe of the Clare Association of An Taisce stated “We need dependable public

transport, free of charge to encourage behavioural change in rural Ireland. We also need a

retrofitting programme that understands the nature of housing in rural Ireland as there is no one

size that fits all.” She added “Small farmers must be supported for the changes they need to make.”

Why are we subsidising fossil fuels to the tune of €2.5bn per year? The polluter, especially the

better off in society, must pay and facilitate a just transition for those who struggle with fuel


Professor Sweeney further stated “This report from the IPCC is the ‘final warning’. The time for plans

and hopes for technological miracles is over. In the words of Antonio Guterres: ‘Our world needs

climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once.’ Nowhere is this truer than in

Ireland. Will we at last get the message?”

Contact Details: 

John Sweeney ([email protected]

Phone: 0872476516