An “unprecedented collaborative and collective effort” will be needed to address the increasing climate emergency, according to Sinn Féin.

Today’s (Monday, August 9) report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a “stark warning and an urgent call to action”, deputy Darren O’Rourke said.

The Sinn Féin climate action spokesperson said that Ireland needs “to bring all communities along this journey to a decarbonised future”.

“The government’s punitive approach of carbon taxes and fuel and electricity price hikes will simply not work.

“It is clear from today’s report that an unprecedented collaborative and collective effort will be needed to address the increasing climate emergency.

“The latest IPCC report represents the latest and most advanced scientific assessment of climate change and the connection between human activity and global warming.

“The report concludes that it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land and that, as a result, human-induced climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying.”

Systemic change that is state-led

Sinn Féin climate justice spokesperson Lynn Boylan said that the issues outlined in the report cannot be addressed “without systemic change that is state-led”.

“Ireland and our health system was not prepared for the pandemic. We have to learn from that,” senator Boylan said.

“We need to prepare both for the consequences of climate change that are now happening while also taking the measures needed to cut emissions and protect our environment and biodiversity.   

“Addressing the crisis of climate breakdown must be done in a way which tackles the large corporate polluters, uses public investment to facilitate changes in how we all live and behave and does not punish ordinary people through punitive charges which play no role in changing behaviour.”

Failure is not an option

Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore said that today’s landmark report is a reminder that “time is running out” to avert a climate catastrophe.

“We are already seeing first-hand what failure to act will mean as we watch fires and floods rage across Europe this summer,” the party’s climate spokesperson said.

“This report is clear – climate change is already affecting every region on earth, in multiple ways. There is nowhere to hide from the devastating consequences of climate change.

“The government must move from climate rhetoric to climate action. There is an urgency now in implementing measures that will see profound, prolonged and sustained reductions in our carbon emissions.

“Time is running out and failure is not an option.”

No more time to postpone or defer

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell said that the government must use its positions on the UN Security Council and within the EU to be “a leading voice for action”.

“We simply do not have any more time to postpone or defer the radical decision-making we need on a global level to avoid disaster,” the party’s climate action spokesperson said.

“I believe that Ireland, having passed ambitious legislation to tackle emissions in the form of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development [Amendment] Bill, combined with our role in the EU and our seat on the UN Security Council, has the opportunity to speak for hundreds of millions of people around the world.

“We should not, and cannot, afford to let this moment pass us.”

Leave a more hopeful legacy

He said that while the details in the report of increasing wildfires, droughts, heatwaves and other extreme weather events to come are “frightening prospects, we must also recognise that by taking decisive global action now, we can avoid some of the very worst scenarios and save lives”.

“The world must make profound cuts to emissions and while this will not be easy, over the past 18 months we’ve seen unprecedented levels of action taken to address the Covid-19 pandemic on an international level.

“We must now harness this attitude and urgency to act on climate change.

“Make no mistake – this will affect every nation, big and small, regardless of geography, demographics or economic status.

“I believe that we can still do the right thing and save our children and grandchildren from this spectre and instead leave a more hopeful legacy as the generation that finally, at long last, rose to the urgency of climate change.”

Decision making at all levels

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that the IPCC report provides information that “can inform decision making on climate change at all levels”.

EPA chief climate scientist Frank McGovern said that it is “essential that we maintain and develop targeted climate change research in Ireland”.

“This is needed to inform actions here and, in particular, the responses that we require,” he said.

“This includes enhanced management of greenhouse gas emissions and removals, as well as the adaptation responses needed to ensure that we can manage the impacts of climate change.”