Ireland’s declaration of a ‘climate and biodiversity emergency’ is ‘largely symbolic’ and must be followed up through action, the Taoiseach told Dáil members.
Declaring an emergency for any other reason than a security reason “does not give us any additional powers, tools or resources with which to deal with the problem,” Leo Varadkar added.
“But symbols and gestures matter,” he said.
Ireland is the second country only in the world, behind the UK (May 1), to declare an emergency, following publication of a report from the Joint Committee on Climate Action.
The JCCA was established following a recommendation in a Citizen’s Assembly report that also outlined how the State could become a leader in tackling climate change.
On May 9, the Dáil ‘accepted and endorsed’ the forty-one recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee.
“It has taken the visual imagery however of children protesting on our streets and streets throughout the world to force the Dáil to take action, along with numerous reports,” remarked the Independent deputy, Catherine Connelly.
“On the very day we declared an emergency, Ireland was conspicuously absent from the list of EU states demanding that 25% of the budget be set aside from climate change,” she added.
Reacting to the announcement, Oisin Colghan, coordinator of Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, said it was a “radical mandate” for climate action from the Dáil.
“It really puts it up to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, whose climate action hasn’t matched his virtue signalling.
To respect this declaration, he said the government’s first response must be to commit to immediately implementing the Dáil’s blueprint for action “in full and on time.
“We have a climate emergency because we now have to do in ten years what we should have started 20 years ago,” he said.
An interdepartmental, all-government climate plan is expected to be rolled out shortly.
“However to succeed, we will have to mobilise people across all sectors – including buildings, heat, transport, industry and agriculture to step up to Ireland’s response to climate change,” remarked Minister Richard Bruton.