Taoiseach claims he takes it as a compliment to be told he sounds like a member of the Green Party

Micheal Martin

Caroline O'Doherty

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin says he takes it as a compliment to be told he sounds like a member of the Green Party.

The Taoiseach was responding after reaction to his comments at the Cop26 climate conference where he made his strongest arguments yet for rapid, dramatic climate action.

In a number of interviews Mr Martin also insisted Ireland would be a far better place to live and work for taking the pain of emissions cutting measures.

Many observers remarked that he was speaking as if he was in the Green Party.

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Mr Martin said that “absolutely” a compliment.

“You don’t have to be a member of any political party to get this and to understand this,” he said.

“In our manifesto before the last election we were very committed to this. It didn’t get the same profile perhaps as other manifestos might have on that issue but it wasn’t a big ask for us in the Programme for Government.

“There is an imperative here for everybody irrespective of one’s politics to do the right thing for future generations.

“I would like to think at the end of this government when peole look back they would see the decisions we have taken as a milestone in turning around Ireland’s approach to deal with climate change.”

Mr Martin was speaking as he prepared to deliver his speech at the world leaders summit segment of the UN climate conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Overnight, Ireland formally committed to another new pact formed for Cop26 – a pledge to halt and reverse deforestation globally by 2030.

Yesterday the Taoiseach confirmed Ireland had also signed up the EU-US led pact to cut global methane emissions by 30pc by 2030.

He said both those commitments, and the details contained in the revised national climate action plan to be published on Thursday, would be “very challenging” for all sectors.

He did not, however, agree that India’s announcement that it would only aim for net zero emissions by 2070 – 20 years after Ireland, the EU and many other countries – should mean Irish farmers should feel they were being treated unfairly.

“To get a commitment [from India] is positive. Different countries have different challenges and constraints. We will work with other states to see can we improve on this,” he said.

Mr Martin said he was “a bit impatient” on the lack of progress in delivering environmental schemes that would provide alternative income streams for Irish farmers.

He also said Ireland was not planting “anywhere near” the number of trees necessary.

He said, however, he was hopeful for the future as there was different mood around this Cop.

“I got a sense after talking to many prime ministers that there is a real intent in terms of moving on this agenda,” he said.

“I am more hopeful that I would have been before. There is a different mood around this one in terms of commitment and engagement with the issue and the sense that there really has to be movement.”