Wilton Justice Group is a community organisation in Cork advocating for climate justice, immigrants and the homeless. As we approach the general election on February 8, we are calling on the leaders of Ireland’s political parties: Leo Varadkar; Micheál Martin; Mary Lou McDonald; Brendan Howlin; Eamon Ryan; Catherine Murphy and Roisin Shortall to make climate action an immediate priority in the next government.
Climate change is not a one-party issue — it is an every party issue.
The quality of the air we breathe, and the food we eat, impacts our wellbeing and thereby our health system.
Changing climate patterns impact habitability leading to migration, adding to pressure on housing systems. Climate change is one of the greatest injustices of our time, and one future generations will judge us by.
It is also one of the easier problems to solve — we just need politicians with courage and a commitment to an inclusive, just transition.
Climate change mitigation is now critical. Earth’s temperature has already increased by around one per cent and the consequences of this are evident through the loss of biodiversity, extreme weather events and the increased likelihood of extended and more regular natural disasters, including melting ice sheets and the forest fires in California and Australia.
2019 saw an unprecedented rise in public awareness of climate change through school strikes, global protests and the introduction of new policies around the world, notably in New Zealand and the European Union’s green deal.
Ireland’s climate action plan was a welcome move but is unambitious and unrealistic in its targets.
It omits, for example, any consideration of a herd reduction in the agricultural sector; its target of one million electric vehicles is not feasible and fails to address the issues of resource depletion and traffic congestion, and most importantly — it has not been backed up with a definitive abandoning of fossil fuel-based energy.
The plan also lacks any long term vision, as it fails to decouple resource extraction and consumption from economic growth calculations.
2020 will necessitate a greater commitment to real climate action. For a healthier Cork, a better Ireland, and a more beautiful planet for generations to come.
Chair, Wilton Justice Group
- These readers opinions were originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 27 January 2020.