Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou MacDonald has called for stronger leadership on climate change and said it must come from the top down.
The Dublin Central TD has said while there is no doubt that individuals must take responsibility for their own choices, more action is needed by the Irish state and other countries to tackle the climate crisis.
Ms McDonald was speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme this afternoon, following her party’s ard fheis at The Helix in DCU yesterday.
It comes as the Irish Government has signed-up to an international agreement to reduce the country’s emissions by 51pc by 2030.
Ms McDonald said that target is ambitious but it is also necessary given the seriousness of the situation.
“I think we’re in the circumstances now where we have to be ambitious. I think individual actions and all of us being aware that we have to change our behaviours is really important, but the truth is that we’re not getting to grips with this until the state leads and until globally we have much more aggressive leadership on these matters,” she argued.
Ms McDonald said the state needs to work towards making “consistent” improvements and argued there is no point in “taking out the big stick to Irish farmers”.
“Talk about the suckler herd, leaves beef farmers in a state of anxiety on the one hand and then go and sign a trade deal Mercosur which will flood the European market with Brazilian beef. That just makes no sense.
“That beef production in Brazil is devastating the rainforest. It’s one of the key carbon basins for the world,” she added.
Ms McDonald described the climate crisis as “systemic” and said her party would use carbon budgeting but in a fairer manner.
She said it is unfair to expect ordinary people to pay thousands of euro to retrofit their homes, while the Government in “rolling out the carpet” to data centres, which she said “guzzle” energy.
Ms McDonald added that her party is calling for a moratorium on the establishment of new data centres.
“We’ve called for that (moratorium) and not alone that, there is an issue that the state is affording to these data centres huge write-offs in terms of their setup costs.
“The average person watching that says where is the consistency is there,” she said.
The Sinn Féin leader said younger voters now recognise that big changes are needed, and they are willing take personal responsibility to help the situation.
She added that young people are also aware that the biggest changes still have to come from the top down.
“The root to dealing with this is two-fold, systemic change and social justice. Those need to be the bedrocks on which we build are climate justice agenda,” she said.