Environmentalists warn of 'crucial' weeks ahead in climate change battle

Environmentalists warn of 'crucial' weeks ahead in climate change battle

A group of Stop Climate Chaos campaigners dressed as Homer Simpson held a demonstration by the Dáil last week ahead of the annual UN climate conference. Picture: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

The coming weeks will be "crucial" for climate change both nationally and internationally, according to environmentalists, with Ireland's latest Climate Action Plan and the international Cop27 global summit in the final planning stages.


Check out our Sustainability and Climate Change Hub where you will find the latest news, features, opinions and analysis on this topic from across the various Irish Examiner topic desks and their team of specialist writers and columnists.

The UN-backed Cop27 at Sharm-El-Sheikh in Egypt this November follows on from the Cop26 event in Glasgow last year. 

It aims to build on a number of pledges made by national governments around the world on tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, the Government is poised to update its Climate Action Plan to incorporate the agreement on "carbon budgets" and ceilings imposed on various sectors as to the emissions they can produce, reflecting legally-binding reduction targets for 2030 and 2050 in the Climate Act.

Stop Climate Chaos (SCC), an umbrella group of more than 30 organisations in Ireland, said: "The next few weeks are a crucial period for climate action. Big decisions are due to be made both nationally and internationally. 

"A trio of Irish climate policies are due to be finalised or progressed. The global Cop27 climate negotiations start next month. Every action that every one of us takes between now and then is important."

A breakthrough on loss and damage is "desperately needed" at the Egypt event, SCC said.

'Loss and damage'

The UN uses the term "loss and damage" during climate negotiations to refer to the consequences of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to, or when options exist but a community does not have the resources to access or utilise them, according to the World Resources Institute.

SCC said: "Sometimes climate impacts are so severe they go beyond what people can adapt to. 

Think of the current climate-exacerbated drought in the Horn of Africa, heavy rains destroying hectare upon hectare of crops in Rwanda or recent flooding that left one third of Pakistan under water. 

Climate impacts like this are referred to as 'loss and damage'."

The bigger and more developed countries, typically in Western societies, are the biggest culprits when it comes to emitting greenhouse gases that are warming the planet, but it is the smaller countries that are paying the price of devastation from extreme weather events and global warming, SCC said.

"Big polluters should be paying for the loss and damage they cause — but at the moment they’re not," it said. 

"Climate-vulnerable countries and climate justice movements will make a huge effort to change this at Cop27."

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney attended a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Monday, where co-ordination on EU efforts on climate change ahead of Cop27 was discussed, among other issues such as the Ukraine crisis.

"Ireland is extensively engaged in EU preparations for the Cop27 conference in Sharm el-Sheikh," he said. "This includes working to increase our collective climate ambition in line with the Paris Agreement, and pushing for urgent implementation of prior commitments."

Environmental groups 'curtailed'

Cop27 is already under fire from human rights organisations over fears that the host country is stifling dissent from climate scientists.

Egypt, which is seeing the likes of rising sea levels and water scarcity already having an impact, has silenced critics, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.

The Egyptian government has severely curtailed environmental groups’ ability to carry out independent policy, advocacy, and field work essential to protecting the country’s natural environment, it claimed.

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