‘We will have to change the habits of a lifetime to deal with the climate’

Speaking on climate change in the Dáil last week, Minister for Communications, Climate and Environment, Richard Bruton, highlighted the “lack of commitment” in the past in Ireland.

He also pointed to how even though Ireland committed to a 20% reduction in emissions “the country failed to achieve that target”, and added: “It is absolutely appropriate that we be called out on that failure.”

The minister said that younger generations were “pointing the finger” at his generation and telling them that they will be the first generation to pass the world on in a worse state than they found it.

That, he added, “is a heavy responsibility which we need to seriously address”.

‘Addressing the shortfalls’

Meanwhile, the Dáil debate took place in advance of this weekend’s conference on climate change that is being hosted by the UN.

Minister Bruton said, that for Ireland, the conference will be the first opportunity for him to present the strategic approach Ireland has taken in addressing the shortfalls “that have clearly occurred” in its climate strategy.

The way we have gone about this shows we have the capacity to mobilise the necessary change.

He continued: “The Citizens’ Assembly has provided leadership on this issue and clearly pointed the way forward, as it has done when addressing previous major changes in Irish society as well.

“The all-party Oireachtas committee put huge care and effort into conducting hearings around the scale of the challenge, how we shape that challenge, and how to govern in order to ensure policies for delivering targets are implemented.”

Climate Action Plan

He then pointed to the Government’s Climate Action Plan which was launched earlier this year.

We are moving to a whole new approach to governance.

The minister added: “There will be far greater levels of accountability for individual ministers on the delivery on climate budgets within their sectors, and far greater accountability to the Oireachtas here as well.

“Just as departments are accountable to the Committee of Public Accounts, they will in future be accountable to an equally important – if not more important – climate action committee.

Also Read: How will the Climate Action Plan affect farmers and rural Ireland?

“The plan we have set out is ambitious. Some people will say it is not ambitious enough, while others will say it is too ambitious.

“People will have to change their concept of what types of infrastructure should be part of a society that is committed to decarbonisation.

We will have to change the habits of a lifetime in many ways.

“We will have to accommodate one million extra people in this country and do it in a way that is compact, sustainable and connected.

“We will have to mobilise very large amounts of private capital to deliver this. I believe it is a serious test of politics.”