Hogan defends cost of attending Doha
ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan has rounded on the critics of his visit to Doha for the global negotiations on a new climate change agreement.
There were complaints during the lead up to the conference about the €16,000 cost of flights and accommodation for him and his nine officials.
But Mr Hogan said anyone who attended and heard about the impact of climate change on developing countries would have a different view.
"I take no pleasure in having to say it, but a lot of what has been written has been ill-informed and has involved a cheap trivialisation of one of the major challenges that the world faces," he said.
Mr Hogan said rising sea levels posed a clear danger to people living on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, while droughts were driving farmers from the lands in parts of central Africa and Latin America.
"Climate change is not an academic concept, or a scientific process: it's an urgent reality for billions of people around the world, with direct human consequences," he said.
The Doha summit led an eight-year extension of the Kyoto protocol, which commits countries to reduce their carbon emissions and was due to expire this year. However, countries will get to choose their emissions targets to meet by 2020.
Mr Hogan said everyone would have liked to have seen more emerge from the two weeks of negotiations, but he said there were important steps towards a new global and legally binding agreement by 2015.
He told the Oireachtas Environment committee that small countries like Ireland could help to shape a global agreement.
He also said that his team of officials had worked closely with Mary Robinson's Climate Justice Foundation in Doha during the climate change negotiations.
Mr Hogan was speaking as he unveiled his environmental priorities for the Irish EU presidency, which will see him chair meetings of environment ministers over the next six months.