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Monday 24 October 2016

President Higgins warns of 'defining moment' in climate change battle

Published 21/07/2015 | 10:35

Michael D Higgins was in Paris to attend the Summit of Consciences for the Climate
Michael D Higgins was in Paris to attend the Summit of Consciences for the Climate

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has warned that this may be the last generation with the ability to respond to and tackle climate change.

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Speaking in Paris this morning, Mr Higgins said that 2015 was a “defining moment” for the future of humanity, as world leaders gather later in the year to strike a global deal to reduce emissions.

He also said that governments were confronted with “urgent choices” which could not be avoided.

“Climate change is the great challenge of our time, already challenging most severely those already poor, for whom, if we do not act, it will deliver devastation,” he said.

“Ours may be the final generation with the opportunity to effectively respond to the now urgent effects of climate change.  This year thus marks a defining moment for the future of humanity. 

“In this year 2015 we will decide on what must be a shared universal response to climate change – and on a practical agenda for action.  We will also this year decide on what should be sought as ‘development’ in the wake of the Millennium Development Goals, in response to global poverty and increasing global inequality.”

The president was speaking at the Summit of the Consciences for the Climate in Paris at the invitation of French President Francois Hollande.

He said that the great challenges of our time were “ethical and intellectual” in nature, and that we had to accept the science of climate change.

Experts warn that unless greenhouse gas emissions from industry, transport and agricultural sources are sharply reduced, and we ramp up investment in renewable forms of energy, the world will warm beyond 2C, which is likely to result in catastrophe.

Extreme weather events including winter storms and flooding, coupled with summer droughts, will become more commonplace. The world’s poorest will be forced to flee the land as agricultural production is decimated, and no-where on the planet will escape.

Mr Higgins said that humanity would have to learn to live side-by-side with nature, and that failure to act would ultimately lead to destruction.

“We must begin with an acceptance of the evidence of science.  It is now clear that failure to respond to the scientific reality of climate change may ultimately lead to the destruction of life on our planet. 

“We must therefore unequivocally reject the position of those who would obscure the scientific reality of climate change in their protection of any narrow and short-term self-interest. The first ethical test is in accepting that there can be no compromise with truth.

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