The Minister for the Environment has said that Ireland is sending its largest ever delegation to the UN climate talks, which are being held in Glasgow next month.
Eamon Ryan told the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action that Ireland is sending “around thirty” people, including many people from NGOs and civil society.
The committee looked ahead to COP26, the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“The numbers of COPs says it all,” said Deputy Brid Smith, Solidarity-PBP.
“We’re at COP 26 now – and things have never been worse on the planet.”
The committee also discussed the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Minister Ryan pointed to “unprecedented changes in the climatic system,” which the IPCC has documented.
“Some changes, such as the rise in sea-level, are irreversible,” he said.
The minister told the committee that some projections point to more flooding in the north and west of Ireland, and drought in the south and east.
“We could have both flooding problems and drought problems,” he said.
He added that domestic action is one of the best ways to influence those abroad.
But he noted that there is much in this complex realm that we don’t know for sure.
“In all these targets, we’re looking at probabilities… There’s nothing certain in this,” he said.
His said that his officials are working closely with their UK counterparts on this issue.
Next month’s gathering in Glasgow is also the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Climate Agreement.
Minister Ryan said that the agreement offers “our best chance of protecting the planet from runaway climate change”.
The Minister said he will shortly announce “a whole relaunch… of the SEAI grant system” for retrofitting homes.
“We can’t call ourselves leaders yet” on the international stage, he said, but Ireland is “well positioned to start showing real leadership”.
Several committee members raised a variety of related issues, including rural connectivity.
Minister Ryan said that the Government has committed in the budget to buy 81 new buses for rural areas.
This should help to connect villages and townlands into the national network more effectively, he said.
“We need to start paying our farmers” for maintaining marginal lands, the Minister said, rather than simply maximising usage of all rural land, as EU official policy prioritises.
Peatlands and wetlands work as carbon sinks, retaining CO2 and having suckler herds on them is better than allowing them to go wild, Minister Ryan said.
Source: Irish Times